tv After Words CSPAN March 15, 2014 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
"the crusade years 1933-1955" herbert hoover's last memoir of the new deal era and its aftermath. in it the hoover institution fellow presents what is referred to as the missing link in the hoover memoirs. he provides the first president's political philosophy and of the century's most historic conflict. this program is about an hour. >> host: hello. the book is "the crusade years 1933-1955" herbert hoover's last memoir of the new deal era and its aftermath. the editor is george nash the most esteemed scholar of herbert hoover today. herbert hoover, he served from 1929 to 33 which means he was
the president who saw the worst years of the depression and the great depression was so bad that a lot of our modern history is about assigning blame for it figuring out whose fault that depression was. many people blame hoover and down the decades increasingly so. the 31st president of the united states was ranked 37 out of 43 in a recent u.s. news poll. that magazine wrote of hoover, he was known as a poor communicator who fueled. wars and exacerbated the depression. not only those on the left but also sometimes on the right assigned blame to herbert and we are here today to talk about that specifically and president huber's own analysis, his own work which blames other people as well including his successor franklin roosevelt and his predecessor calvin coolidge. we want to welcome the viewers to this hoover revision.
doc nash is a frequent guest on this channel. richard norton smith introduced him and interviewed him a few years ago for another book and this time we are going to give license to this crucial controversial depression subject. we are going to make our hour into three parts. the first part is remind yourself to hoover was. the second is to talk about the production of this tremendous book and its many pages and much editing and detail in the third part will be to talk about why it matters, what about the great depression and two c-span viewers welcome and george welcome. hoover's identity really begins in college and you have written a whole book about that. where did hoover go to college and how did it affect him? >> guest: he was first of all born in 1874 in iowa as the son of quakers and the son of the locksmith. he was orphaned before he was 10 and went to live eventually with
an uncle in oregon. never had more than a middle school education really and then applied for entrance into newly formed stanford university in the summer of 1891. he got admission and was told to take some additional tutoring with the help of which he passed most of his entrance exams and he was allowed to enter. he was probably literally the first at stanford university in the fall of 91 getting his dormitory room ahead of anyone else. that became in a deep sense his alma mater. you have to remember he is an orphan boy and he was trying to make it in the world. he was only 17 when he entered college and he was rather shy but he blossomed in college and became student body treasure by the time he was out of college. stanford meant so much to him that about 25 years or so after that after world war i hoover literally built his own home on
the stanford campus. that is still there in the official residence today of the present of the university. >> guest: . >> host: dr. -- what did he do with his education? he studied mining and engineering. >> guest: his official major was geology and he had an interest in mining engineering in that quickly became his graph g. graduated in the class of 1895. after a year or two he got a break and was hired by a british engineering firm that was preeminent in the world at the time and he was sent as a young man to australia. before he left australia at the age of 23 he was already the manager of one of the great goldmines the sons of quality out it was called and from there he got married to a stanford woman who also was a geology measure -- nature possibly the first in the united states to have that major we can't be sure but she was a pioneer in her own right lou henry hoover.
they wanted china for a couple of years and eventually hoover use london as his base during his mining career which took them up to world war i. he became successful and traveled all over the world and went to places like wermuth, china and australia and so forth and had a great success in that first career. >> we want to stop a minute and think about this. imagine you have a son or daughter and he goes to college and studies that thing that the world needs most at that point getting minerals out of the ground and growing the economy needs minerals especially when the world is on the gold standard. your child is the best-educated speaking of hoover in the area studied with masters at stanford and also hoover was it was that the best paid young man of his generation and certainly one of the most successful. he wasn't just any success. >> guest: you are quite right. he became the outstanding mining
engineer at this time. he was recognized for that. he was earning in 1908 to 1914 in excess of $100,000 a year which was a lot of money in those pre-income tax stays but you know he didn't want to stop there. by the time he was 40 he was probably a modest millionaire another midas or rockefeller that he wanted to do more this life. he said making money isn't enough. having done well and his profession he wanted to do something more creative, perhaps gives back and tried to change circumstances that led to his second career as a humanitarian. >> host: that's right and professor nash has written about his stage of this early life. he moved first in wartime to getting americans back to the u.s. in world war i and then to a great rescue and feeding of the people of l. jim, and then to the food administrator.
that was the beginning of american politics. >> guest: yes, when the first world war broke out in the month of his 40th birthday he had these notions he would return to united states and get into public life in some vague way probably through a newspaper. i think he thought he would become a newspaper owner but it any rate circumstances turned his life in a different direction and as you just pointed out he helped american tourists stranded in europe get home and organized what was thought would be a temporary emergency relief mission to help people in belgium who had just been overrun by the german army at the start of the war. they didn't have enough food and that turned into something that was out -- without precedent in the history of humanity feeding an entire occupy a nation almost 9 million people if you count a couple million in france that fell in
to that spirit. that made hoover an international hero and assemble the new force at that time american benevolence. it was the new world coming to help the old through its tribulation. hoover was doing this not by conducting war but by dealing with the problem of war as a humanitarian. that led him as i said to a national hero ended made him an american hero as well. he entered the wilson administration when we enter entered the war and became food administrative and became a world authority on food and food relief and humanitarhumanitar ian relief. himself the accolade of the great humanitarian he was called the master of emergencies. the napoleon of mercy and at the end of the war he went back on wilson's instructions to organize relief to europe, over 20 countries received food that hoover facilitated and tens of millions of people were
dependent on hoover relief. >> host: at that time yet opportunity to storm -- formed some opinions about the revolutions going on whether was germany or russia. tell us a little bit about russia because he had investments there and he saw what happened with the russian revolution. >> guest: hoover traveled all over the world five times before world war i and he was a very perspective of observer. he was constantly comparing america with these other social systems many of which were failing and there was great turmoil in the aftermath of world war i. the communist had taken over rush of the of -- bolshevik rep revolution and hoover had basically pulled out of russia mining interests before the revolution but he lost a perspective fortune in the comments came in and cedes the mines and general chaos ensued. he saw, that was one of the great lessons he drew from that wartime and post-war experience.
he saw what was regarded as the failure of command and control of economies as we would say. using the word socialism and all shouldism and so forth especially in russia. he saw that as a great failure but also as a great challenge philosophically to the american way of doing things. after his humanitarian episode which probably resulted in his saving more lives than any person who has ever lived. that has been said of him a remarkable achievement. after that he returned to unite states in 1919 and injured american public life. >> host: we are going to move through his career very quickly just to briefly reader, the listeners of it and get to the controversy. he was such a success that both parties vied for his affection and then he went republican. he was commerce secretary to president harding and president
coolidge and didn't get along well with president coolidge did he? >> guest: initially they did that it became an increasingly tense relationship partly for reasons of temperament and hoover was much more aggressive in terms of wanting to build public works expenditures and that grated against coolidge's conservatism. they were both party loyalists so coolidge did endorse hoover ultimately in 28 and again when hoover ran for re-election. it's a cop located story but you are right. it became a tense relationship underneath. >> host: that's right so coolidge was no longer president. hoover was president and just as hoover becomes president within a year the stock market crashes so hoover is stuck with the albatross of a downturn and this is why there's so much emphasis on him and so much focus. what did hoover do in the
depression period those first years as president? let's luscious point out the highlights. >> guest: hoover did not believe in a philosophy of laws they fare. he quickly disparage that in his writings before he was president so by the standards of, the historic standards of the presidency he was an activist at the start. we tried to do was bring in leaders of industry and the bankers and so forth and have the kind of cooperative approach that would hopefully stimulate recovery through greater public works spending and the like. there were phases to what hoover did and he did some things that he has been criticized for by conservatives like agreeing to the smoot-hawley tariff for example. >> host: was just say there was a great tariff which he signed called smoot-hawley. some of us have seen a scene about it in ferris bueller's day off and back terrace was a burden on business at a time when business could ill afford it.
>> guest: hoover was reluctant to sign it but a bin push through and something his party stood for the republican party and he did hope that in the law as written he could turn it to better advantage by setting up a tariff commission that would presumably be more impartial and perhaps as well as raise tariffs so we had a hope that scientifically things would work out better. i was probably a forlorn hope. >> host: what about wages? >> guest: he and other leaders of industry had the view that wages should remain where they were the argument aimed that this would create purchasing power for people who were struggling perhaps the unemployed and so forth. that has been a much debated thing. >> host: he is like henry ford henry ford believed pay high and and --
the car. he was in because keynes wasn't around but it's popular now, consumer spending is good for the economy. >> guest: hoover was a proto-keynesian in the sense that he believed in stimulating the economy through counter-cyclical public expenditure on public works. you have to remember he was an engineer said at a certain interest in that kind of thing so that was part of his early policy. what happens to hoover as the depression deepens and people didn't know it was the great depression on day one. they probably thought it was a typical cyclical event but when that pattern didn't uphold and when the depression deepened hoover found himself facing increasing pressure from the left are greater and greater expenditures and greater intervention in the economy and he started to hold the line against that. he became very much a fiscal conservative, balance the budget save the gold standard republican in the last year to the slide.
that was perceived rigidity and part of the reason he got attacked for supposedly not doing anything. he was quite activist for his times including some policies that might not than all that effective. on the other hand he was struggling against a total status turned such as he saw coming in the new deal. >> host: there are so many clichés about hoover but they are very different. some people blame him for being too active and some people blame him for doing nothing. laws they fared and neither is entirely correct and this is why your writings about hoover are so important. there is a third grade measure that is often discussed which is the enormous tax increase in the later part of hoover's time and i often think and what do you think doctors nash in today's terms to go to hike tax i believe is in the 60% range from
the 25 or 24 that they had when they started seems like a lot but he was operating in the gold standard world. the gold standard world that washington must balance the budget and the worst recession upon you by taking the gold away. what do you think about this tax increase and whether he is wrongly being blamed about a? >> guest: two things. there was a consensus among economist and politicians of both parties in late 31 and early 32 that the federal deficit was so gigantic, 50% of the federal expenditure, deficit spending that there had to be tax increases to balance the budget because as you say balancing of budget was perceived to be critical to recovering. the question was do you have a national sales tax? i think there's some evidence that hoover favored what was called at the time manufactures sales tax but eventually what
happened was there was all bunch of taxes. i have to point out that the consensus of economic thinking at that time was that this was a wise idea. this was not something that hoover foisted on the congress. there was consensus, bipartisan consensus. those were the parameters for the day. secondly if you look at the results of the tax increase, even after the rates were raised 90% of the american people did not pay any income tax. i am inclined to think that whether it was a good idea or a bad idea it was not a catastrophic explanatory idea for the late phase of the depression and some on the right would say. i kind of think the tax increase while probably a mistake by our understanding of policy was not nearly as much of a mistake and in that context you might say what choice did they have? i think hoover has gotten too much criticism on that one.
>> host: right. who were warned to blame and you think of it in an emotional arc. the stock work arc it went down into the 40s from 381. the country is very angry so who had they chosen to blame? it was hoover. he was the most blamed president in a way in quickly to move on a little bit before we talk about your work and the work of a biographer. hoover is out on his rear end unfortunately, not included and goes back to california and you have said that he invented the ex-presidency because very long after the presidency he held the record until jimmy carter surpassed him off more than three decades. can you briefly tell us what he did in that post-presidency period? >> guest: you are exactly
right. he was a pariah when he left office improbably hated it as much as any person in american history but he didn't go quietly away. he did go to california. he stayed out of sight for about a year and a half so he gave roosevelt a chance. hoover didn't want to start grousing at the very start. he wanted to permit a change of administrations but hoover then became for reasons of temperament and partly because his desire to vindicate himself and partly because he saw great threat emerging he became active as the next president. it's said that maybe theater roosevelt had some inclinations on long bout wine but hoover became really the leader of the opposition. he fought back. he wrote of luck in 1934 which was kind of his return to the scene called the challenge to liberty. perhaps we will talk about that in a moment. he ended up becoming a vigorous critic of the new deal.
he actually really i think wanted to be president again and there was considerable evidence that in 1940 was angling toward hoping for the republican nomination so he wanted to return to political life. he became the intellectual leader of the republican party during the period from 1933 until the end of eisenhower's administration in 1953. that period hoover became a man of the right because even though he saw himself as a progressive republican and a historic liberal he was battling against what he saw as a much greater status challenge from the left, and that pushed them toward the right. during all these years he is writing books. he is doing all sorts of philanthropic work. people forget that for almost 30 years he was chair of the boys club of america movement and made that into a major philanthropy for urban boys. he did a huge amount of travel
so he was an extraordinarily activist ex-president and that i think is something people tend to forget. >> host: this is a story that is not told especially the part about the republican party. we sort of have forgotten it if we ever knew it that he advised for example william f. buckley or glenn free market journal that remained was -- they did nice take his advice. he gave it often but he was there and that sort of father figure is underappreciated in modern history as well. he had a phrase, regimentation. what did that mean for the new deal? >> host: >> guest: it was a variant of our number of variants of what he called statism state control of the economy, state-controlled
society, socialism commonism and fascism. it had a relationship he thought to the others was regimentation. that is in essence the economy would not be a free economy simply regulated by government's umpire which hoover said was his approach but it would become a top-down managed economy with government dictating to business or behaving as the leader business and organizing business. hoover argued that properly regulated individualism was the proper alternative to what he called shooter socialism. >> host: so he's talking about communism in russia witchita pours into test. he was not a recognition with communist russia but also complaining about regimentation in the new deal which is related to what we would call and funded mandates for example. too many rules. too much state control and this
is all in here. i want to move briefly because it's important to you, your own career and working on hoover. you are from new england. you went to amherst college where hoover didn't go but coolidge did. you are the class of 67 and coolidge was class of 95 and you are also quite a coolidge scholar. what was your first book lacks. >> guest: the conservative elm collection will movement of america. that was my doctoral dissertation. >> host: this book at a tremendous effect on many conservatives are free-market. it i remember as a young writer at "the wall street journal" learning about it. lately you did a revision of sorts. what did you say back then what changed? >> guest: i kept the initial book is a history of the rise of
conservative intellectuals after world war ii and are recently i have done the book of reappraising the right. while doing that i have worked as a historical biography -- biographer on the life of herbert hoover. i got into herbert hoover by invitation. it wasn't something i expected to do when i got my dissertation completed and looking for a job on the job market. i was commissioned to write a biography of hoover and it made sense because hoover as you mentioned a moment ago was a friend come a patron and a saintly figure for many of those in battled and beleaguered could conservatives so it made sense to me to transition to hoover. >> host: in battled and beleaguered is how many conservatives feel today. one of the interesting things you have said george is well gee it's not necessarily as bad as it was in the 70s.
now at least there are some conservative magazines for those who don't see hope in the political process. >> guest: two points we could make there. one, there was the hoover period into the 70s there was a development presence of william f. buckley junior who was the patron figure. in 1960 let's say when the conservative intellectuals in the united states was of modest size and now we have a much more elaborate infrastructure and conservativism and its many formulations. it's a much richer period for the conservative live in because the movement has grown and matured. there was a time when it was very much a lonely occupation back in those eras and hoover was a figure of rectitude.
here is a man who had been defeated but made his way back and was fighting the good fight. >> host: in the figure of consolation very important. i want to ask you briefly just to say what did you do with the hoover institution before we come to the break. >> guest: the hoover institution on war revolution and peace started during world war i and its aftermath as he began to collect documentation relating to the war particularly his on relief work and he expanded the mission. he wanted to find and save for future historians tremendous amounts of material that might otherwise be lost or overlooked and would document this immense human tragedy. so it started as a war collection archive and it's grown over the years to a much broader institution with a think-tank characteristic as well. >> host: the archives on soviet materials especially the
worlds premier archives on that. >> guest: there is much more there that if elsewhere. he had records there that he could have access to. hosted over that hoover said this might need this institution with this library is greatest accomplishment which is very interesting. just say a few words about that and we will close for a break. >> host: >> guest: he said in 1959 at the end of this phenomenal career which he was 50 years in the public eye and for him to say that i thought was a remarkable statement create i think it illustrated his great concern that history be understood in the lessons of history be assimilated by people and this great archive that he founded could make a singular contribution to a better understanding of the world of revolution and the world of communism and national socialism
it's tremendously tumultuous century and here he was collecting from all over a fascinating story, the documentation of future historians to delve into. he thought maybe that was his greatest contribution to america. >> host: from robert conquest to anne appelbaum recent scholarships have used his archive and his library and the hoover institution is circling one of the premier think-tanks in america. we will come back very shortly after our break. >> host: we are back with dr. dr. said to his caller of herbert hoover and we are going
to spend a little time dr. nash talking about the job of hoover biography. i wanted to mention some of the names of the people we have built our work on because there is a lot of hoover work. they are in other hoover biographers, john wilson the forgotten progressive kendrick clements wrote in perfect visionary, eugene lions wrote a biography long time ago. bill lautenberg.arthur schlesinger series. gary is a wonderful scholar recently passed, david werner, robert did some interesting work on hoover. the fishing president about hoover and flyfishing richard norton smith uncommon and i know you have interviewed with him before and margaret hoover who recently wrote a book not about hoover directly but about his ideas and american individualism.
is there anyone to add and have we left anyone out? >> guest: there are many monographs that we wouldn't have time to list but these are very eminent people. i knew all of them and know all of them except for mr. lions who passed away any years ago. one of the things that has happened in this generation is scholarship has taken off. partly because the papers were opened in 1966. up to that point people have to rely on newspaper articles and so forth and now we got to see the hoover story from the inside there has been a kind of a boom if you will and hoover scholarship and maybe more detachment about him as time has passed. some of the emotions of his era have faded so i'm happy to be in the company of those scholars and have spent time at the hoover institution and the hoover presidential library in iowa. >> host: that's right. what is the difference? what is a presidential library in what is the hoover
institution? >> guest: the hoover institution was founded by herbert hoover at stanford university his alma mater effectively in 1919 within the framework of stanford university. >> host: i want to stop and say that dr. nash is wearing the hoover institution tie. that is the tower and that is his tower and it's quite dutiful we are all very proud of the hoover institution, a wonderful place. >> guest: it's a wonderful place. that tower is 85 feet high and part of the stanford landscape. it's administered by the national archives in one of those in the system is the herbert hoover presidential library which is at his birth twice in west branch iowa. that was my base of operations for many years on several volumes about mr. hoover. i also spend every minute i have
enjoyed it the hoover institution because if you are drawing on the archival resources of those places. that gives you a bit of that ground to the kind of context in which i work as an independent scholar. i have worked with both of those places over the years. >> host: viewers who might end up in west branch will want to know there are other papers including papers of the wilder family. rose wilder laura ingalls wilder about the writing of the famous little house books and that's important to a lot of americans too. how did rose wilder lane the daughter of laura end up with herbert hoover? >> guest: well the papers of rose wilder lane went to a man named roger mudd bride who i think was a libertarian candidate for president at one point or at least he was an act of libertarian and he donated the papers to the hoover library
in iowa. that is how the papers ended up in the hoover presidential library through mr. met rides donation assigned or stand it. lois wilder lane was a friend of herbert hoover's and wrote the first to campaign -- in 1920. she went around and interviewed people and i don't think he cared for the book entirely. he felt that maybe she was glamorizing him too much but at any rate they were appointed. >> host: this is very exciting and gives you a feel for how friendly he was and for whom he was a figure. people may never would have imagined. here's your luck. it's not your first and it's perhaps your sixth or seventh relating to hoover. hoover wrote so much after the presidency. where does this fit in? >> guest: this book was previously unknown to exist in all my years of study. i had never known.
>> host: it was a dramatic discovery. >> guest: it was part of the seven memoirs that he started to write in 1940 after wendell willkie got the nomination for the president by the republicans he started to pour some of his immense energy into writing what turned into six volumes of memoirs. for them are published in his lifetime. there were two left one of which historians know about because hoover had referred to them in different places but had not been seen. after hoover died in 1964 his manuscript called the magnum hold us for this enormous work about world war ii and its aftermath and his critique of what he saw as roosevelt's feckless foreign policy and the great era he thought roosevelt had made. the magnum opus which was given by him ultimately the title freedom betrayed. that was put in storage for his
heirs after he died in 1964 and so far as i can determine people that made the decision are long deceased. they were concerned that it would possibly be likely to cause an unseemly controversy in political battles if that manuscript were published after his funeral. he is an elder statesman at that point in his life. he's 90 years old when he dies and to turn around from the past. they put it in storage and it was not until another generation that the family came along and decided the time they come many years later to bring that book to publication. i was invited to edit it and that came out freedom of. in 2011. while working on that other book i found in the 200 box of papers relating to the manuscript of this book and this is a companion volume. the other one focuses on
foreign-policy world war ii and the cold war. this is hoover's account mainly of what he called his crusade against collectivism in the united states during the new deal period and it also has charming chapters on his family life and interesting chapters as well on his philanthropies. the time period of the two volumes that have just recently been published his post-presidency but only one of them was known to exist and then i discovered as i mentioned before this one with the permission of the hoover family and the hoover family foundation this book has just been released. >> host: so many books. he seems to have written, hoover his autobiography a number of times in these books are long. dr. nash and you can see dr. nash's edits in it where hoover distills the same. is it more like frederick
douglass who wrote his own autobiography? why did he feel the need to go back? >> guest: hoover wrote over 30 books and my favorite statistic about him. between the ages of 85 and 90 when he died he published seven books not including the two we are talking about. >> host: did he turn to the dictaphone? >> guest: he wrote everything by pencil and then he would send it off to a typist in the draft would come back with type editing, rewriting and revise it and send it back again and again. finally he would get to the point where he wanted to see what it looks like. he had it set up and page proofs and would keep tinkering with that. why did he tinker so much? i think partly it was perfectionism. he wanted not only his style to be perfect but also he won at the facts to be perfect because he saw both of these books is having a didactic purpose.
freedom to trade and the crusade years which is his account of his life as a crusader for socialism and regimentation and all of that. he was regarded as having great values for people to learn lessons by so he thought because of its unique stature as an ex-president and with the resources he had in the access he had with people with inside information he thought he was in a unique position to bring out to the american people some very important lessons about the release of history. i think that drove him to do it all the more carefully. he didn't quite let it go. he effectively finished the other book just before he died and then it was put into storage. >> a picture of a man with tremendous energy with a lot to do. i think you have a description of him going into his kitchen at the waldorf towers at night
opening a can of campbell's soup when he is alone at 2:00 a.m. and downing it in going off to write a little bit. he would write in the early hours of the morning before anyone else was up. he was correcting and writing on and off. you think he knew friedrich heidrick who wrote "the road to serfdom"? >> guest: they evidently corresponded once or twice and i know hayek was hoping hayek -- but i haven't been able to find much beyond that and i don't know possibly of correspondence has been lost. it would seem that there is at least a couple of casual contacts of correspondence but beyond that i don't know. >> host: we have come now to the third part of our chat which is about the controversy because if you read the papers today you will read it was all hoover's fault or coolidge's and hoover's fault and not roosevelt.
or you would read that this is roosevelroosevel t's fault and that is why this book is timely again or for the first time since it's been discovered because it's about what happened in that dark economic period and united states. i wanted us to mention one thing that you discovered, your discovery recently. professor nash finds interesting things. when it came to blame assignmenassignmen t people often blame calvin coolidge for statements he allegedly made as late as 29. the market was just fine in stock phrases were out. what did you discover? >> guest: an article i will refer to quickly. he had said prosperity was absolutely sound and the stocks were cheaper in the market. it turns out that the only
source i have been able to find and other historians have been able to find was herbert hoover. herbert hoover makes the point about call coolidge. what i did a year or so ago while researching hoover's memoirs in writings and so forth and we discussed this before, hoover wrote several drafts. it turns out an initial draft he simply made the statement that just before hoover came into office before coolidge left coolidge made the statements but he didn't put quotation marks around the original draft. in the revision weather was the secretary putting in some quotation marks were added by the time the book is published in hoover's memoirs in 1952 or so. it looks like coolidge said this precisely and we haven't been able to find a coolidge said that at that time. hoover may have just had a slip
of memory or he may been thinking of an earlier episode where he made benign comments about the stock work it. >> host: we all have a natural eagerness to shift blame over to someone else and in that case maybe he shifted a little much to coolidge. coolidge perhaps shifted a little much to hoover but both of them felt the tremendous burden of being assigned blame for a terrible commotion in the business cycle. quite interesting. since you have been writing, since we have been studying hoover there has been some revision that is important to point out. one piece of revision relates to the soviet union. i think when you begin writing hoover said the soviet union was bad but history didn't always
say the soviet union was bad. since then through the discovery and part of papers through the reality that has been reported by soviet refugees who came over we have come to see for example in the new deal that there were many people in the new deal who were communists were some who were reporting to moscow. that is a big change since you have become a historian and i've begun to look into it. part of that is possible because of hoover's work in the hoover archives. not everyone reported to moscow but some did. for example harry dexter white. so hoover wasn't exactly wrong that the soviet union was or did have some influence. >> guest: hoover regarded one of the great mistakes of roosevelt that being the recognition of the soviet union in 1933. it gave him respectability and
easier access into american public life. in the 30s they develop what was called the popular front. 100,000 members in the common estate. they were small but concentrated and energetic and so forth and hoover was worried about this. he thought this was pulling the new deal to the left. >> guest: . >> host: people thought hoover was hysterical perhaps mccarthyite and he was not inaccurate. we want to give him credit. he was also not inaccurate about the economic and social prospects of the soviet union. >> guest: hoover argued if we were not careful in her destruction of the nazi empire we would have another empire in its place. that was part of the argument for this other luck freedom of trade, that roosevelt had a very
naïve feeling about his ability to domesticate joseph stalin and hoover was very critical and saw it betrayed as hoover's will and testament. he said look we have got to understand the mistakes that we made and we must eliminate these starry-eyed notions that we have he called them less dish. >> host: regimentation and leftish. that is controversial today in interesting and important when you look at the current policy. where is it expansion it -- expansionist and where is it not? after hoover david davenport is scholar and former president of pepperdine university with george lloyd who recently published a book saying the new deal is paradigm for modern debate.
you are for government expansion and if you are against it in the 1930s new deal then you have other positions about current policy. they say hooper therefore is a definer. if they think coolidge was kind of retro and out of it. what i enjoyed very much about europe look issue showed that. you showed hoover thinking about the new deal that could be op-ed articles today. he said any quote we cannot extend government of the daily lives of the without someone being the master people's souls and thoughts. can you say a word or two more about what is in this book about the new deal and how it might be perceived? >> guest: i'm glad you mentioned david lloyd and davenport. neither of us knew the other was writing. we had a great deal of convergence in recognizing
hoover was really a prophetic figure and leader in the deployment arguments antistatist arguments that have become integral to american consumerism. some of the arguments that hoover makes are the arguments we are having still. the government, which is the problem in which is the solution and how far should we go in deregulation and so forth? huber relates issues in this book which are very defining as you say of the american political landscape. in fact in 1932 hoover gave a talk in madison square garden, the speech of his unsuccessful re-election campaign. he said this election is more than a contest between two men into parties. it's between two philosophies of government and the selection will dictate the course of american life for 100 years to
come. he regarded that as one of the most prophetic speeches he had ever given so what he is doing in this book in the crusade years as documenting his battle with its the new deal through the 30s and 40s and some of the aftermath. he regarded this as a critical fault line, the america he knew of a more individualistic philosophy, that might be lost and move toward a regimented society of a managerial state. >> host: they would be this gradual expansion step by step and to a very large state. just to recall for the viewers the new deal was in the 1930s when the great depression was and unfortunately and employment did not come down and the stock market did not recover. those were the two main facts that made it the great depression. it was the duration that made the depression so great.
sometimes hoover went too far. you have a wonderful item i believe the one of your appendices where he wrote a letter to the justice. can you tell us about back? >> guest: yes, 1943 when the window world he was running against roosevelt it was a fairly tight election and hoover was terribly afraid of roosevelt would get his third term. hoover went to chief justice of the united states charles evans hughes and asked him to resign from the court in the middle of the campaign and campaign against roosevelt. roosevelt had just had a big battle a few years ago in a court-packing scheme which cost them a lot of political support. he had been an opponent of roosevelt. >> host: hoover did not approve of the court-packing because it was a political change of the court. >> guest: right so hoover came up with this idea that this dramatic gesture might turn the tide of the campaign and hughes couldn't put the court in
jeopardy that way by using his position to leave and do this. i think he also felt that all roosevelt would do would appoint a new dealer in his place on the supreme court. hughes didn't stay in the supreme court much longer but hoover doesn't talk about it in the regular book but i thought it belonged in the appendix. this is a rather sensational and would have been more sensational had it happened. >> host: what you capture is a man wrestling with a sense of urgency thinking he's right and with his own sense of importance but also a cassandra knowing something and how to conduct yourself. it's difficult as an ex-president. i worked with president bush for several use someone of several use and what it thinks the nose was his incredible graciousness at pulling back. he was less at the and less activist president he could see
is more of a statesman and a bit. it's hard for anyone to be an ex-president. you have anxiety about the future and anxiety about how the past is perceived. what do you think is the single most important thing in this book lacks. >> guest: i think hoover's argument. hoover was unusual among political figures of his time and ours in that he believed in the importance of their proper narrative of understanding of the past in order to avoid mistakes of the present and the future. he did not want to go quietly into the night. he did to let the new dealers monopolize the argument so he fought back rather rigorously and energetically as sketched out a counternarrative which meant that the new deal came under criticism. i think that argument in his fundamentals as part of a constant argument that we still have about the place of
government in our society and whether government can be a menace as well as a help. hoover saw what he saw creeping collectivism in the 30s and he's worried about totalitarian liberals. i don't think that is his own coinage but it was rather a striking face. totalitarian liberals if we could keep our freedoms was our freedoms for still have state-controlled and enterprise. he said you can't have a combination. that was a few years before hayek. >> host: it must be a little bit painful for hoover fans because some fans don't like hoover. again this is an incredibly controversial area. this is the way americans think about themselves and their politics through these figures. the gospel according to palo alto is a phrase we use for hoover issuing from stanford and these thoughts. what might hoover have thought
about china now? >> guest: he was of course highly disturbed that american policy in his view had undermined chiang kai-shek the 40s and prevented mao tse-tung to take power. >> host: thinking about communism. >> guest: there are several new books out about the history of china with mao among others and i think hoover would read this book since they look at the horrible cost of communism in china from 1949 until the turn toward greater economic freedom so hoover would probably say i'm speculating of course, think of what was lost before china found itself and started in some ways to move any more prosperous and free her direction. it's still not totally free society by hoover standards but think of the tens of millions of people who lost their lives because of mao's utopian fantasies and terrible policies.
fortunately china has gotten beyond that so i think hoover would be pleased but he would probably say we might have avoided all of that loss if we had not been so naïve in thinking that mao was just one more a query in reformer. >> host: to put it simply if you are an undergraduate in 1960 or 1967 or graduating when i was the it later but not that much later what we learned was china was different. it was their culture to be communist and anyone who said chinese communism is terrible is hysterical. we didn't really learn about the great famine that the professor described in that book or others yang hoovered about this incredible famine where tens of millions died analogous to the gulag and analogous to what hitler gave. this was a hidden history and
someone like hoover worried about it didn't get much attention. that is what he would have said in its parallel. china and russia. >> hoover was so concerned that he was trying to bring out the history and the dangers of historical trends before people learned belatedly up the costs. i think he would have been frustrated to think we have the solutions about the benign mao tse-tung period in china it was only much later that we find out from the phenomena papers released in the 1990s the extent of congress espionage much of what hoover figured out 50 years, 40 years before so i suspect if you are feeling a little out of sorts about it saying why do you americans take so long to reach the conclusions that should have been plane had you study your history earlier
on so he was trying to be a historian and the teacher in this book. >> host: what you were getting at is that backs. this is not about ideology. the facts are there but we never got them so we have a real last question for you. what is your advice to young scholars people who might follow you when they teach. what should they look at? >> i think they should look a fresh and not pay too much attention to all the historiography. take a fresh look. that's always important. i would like to quote a phrase by a british historian who used to say nothing can be safe like a document so i would urge young historians don't just take what seems to be the face value of documentation. you have to have skepticism and dig deeply and therefore not accept just the standard
narrative are what john kenneth galbraith used to call conventional wisdom. much of the conventional wisdom about the economy is period in the new deal deal period and so one the early conventional wisdom, the heroic interpretation of those has turned out to be terribly wrong at least in the revision so i would urge young historians to do that. >> host: i want to point out that there are many kinds of historians. as a historian i have noticed that an dr. nash is the best kind which is to say very factual and very magnanimous. he always sees that others may do the work rather than divisive and selfish and only interested in his own name. that is one reason beyond the adequacy and academic contribution that he is admired so much. herbert hoover, he knew he was right and sometimes as.or nash is shelving he was.
scientists. these are 70 page documents which show in a very subtle way how this program began. so you have these military intelligence officers learning about hitler's nerve agent program so we did not know about, learning about hitler's dialogical weapons programs that we did not know about come interviewing the scientists and trying to find out all that we can but also you see decisions being made. that real decision comes down to this, should this scientist be hanged or should this scientist be hired? ..