tv After Words CSPAN March 17, 2014 12:00am-1:01am EDT
the death mask. there were apparently two masks created. they were of the arguments over which one is truly authentic and continues today. this is a copy of a mask that was sent to be done by the doctor at his bedside and then was stolen for a period of time and recovered in the 19th century. we have looked at representative pieces from later publications and drawings of egypt from contemporary publications at the time. manuscript materials as well as artifacts. special collections and archives at the state are open to everyone. you don't need any special permission to come interact with these materials or to do research and we welcome students of all ages and all levels of
hoover today. herbert hoover, he served from 1929233 which means he was the president who saw the worst years of the depression. 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 down the decades increasinincreasin gly so. the 31st president in first president united states was ranked 37 out of 43 in a recent u.s. news poll. that magazine voted hoover he was known as the poor communicator who fueled. wars have 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 who wears on and 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. dr. 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 break our hour into three parts. the first part is to remind ourselves who hoover was in the second part is to talk about the production of this tremendous book and its many pages and much editing in detail in the third part will be to talk about why it matters. what about the great depression and today c-span viewers 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: first of all he was born in 1874 in iowa as the son
of lakers and the son of a blacksmith and he was orphaned before he was 10. he went out 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 was told to take additional tutoring with the help of which he passed most of his entrance exams so he was allowed to enter. he was literally the first at stanford university in the fall of 81 getting his dormitory room of head of anyone else. that became in a deep sense his alma mater. you have to remember he was an orphan boy and was trying to make it in the world. he was only 17 when he entered college and he was rather shy. he became student body treasurer by the time he was out of college and stanford meant so
much to him that about 25 years or so after that after world war i hoover literally dealt his own home on the stanford campus. that's still there and it's the official residence. >> host: dr. nash what did he do with his education? he stuttered engineering, mining engineering. >> guest: his official major was geology and that became his career after he graduated in the class of 1895. after a year or two in the united states you got a break and was hired by a british mining engineering firm that was preeminent in the world at the time and he was sent as a gunman to australia. before he left australia at the age of 23 he was already manager of one of the great goldmines in the australian gold rush. from there he got married to a stanford woman and also was a geology measure of possibly the
first in a nice is to have that major. we can't be sure but she was a pioneer in her own right. lou henry hoover. eventually hoover use london as his base during his mining engineering career which took him up to world war i. he became successful at it then traveled all over the world to different places like irma china australia and so forth and had a great success with that first career. >> host: 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. a growing economy needs minerals especially when the world is on the gold standard and your child is the best city kid -- educated in that area studied with masters at stanford and also the most -- the best paid young men 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 of his time and 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 days but he did to stop there. by the time he was 40 he was a modest millionaire. i'm not a midas or a rockefeller or mellow perhaps that he wanted to do more with his life and having done well in his profession he wanted to do something more creative perhaps give back and buy a chain of circumstances that led to his second career as a humanitarian. >> host: that's right and professor nash has written about this stage of his early life life. he moved first in wartime to getting americans back to the u.s. in world war i and then to
a great rescue of the people of l. jim and then to the food administrators. that was the beginning of american politics. >> guest: in the month of his 40th birthday. he always had the notion he would return to the united states and get into public life in some way probably by buying a newspaper. i think he thought he would come and newspaper owner any rate circumstances turned his life in a different direction and as you just pointed out helps american tourists stranded in europe get home and was asked to organize what was thought to be a temporary emergency relief mission to help the distressed people of belgium who had just been overrun by the german army. they didn't have enough food and that turned into something that was without precedent in the history of humanity feeding an
entire occupying nation, several million people over 9 million people if you count the couple million in northern france that fell into that sphere. that made hoover and international hero and the symbol of the new force in the world at that time american benevolence. here was the new world coming to help the old in its tribulation. huber was doing this not by conducting war but i dealing with the problem of war as a humanitarian. that made him an international hero and made him an american hero as well and he entered the administration when we entered the war and became food administrator. now he is a world authority on food and food relief. a new field humanitarian relief and accolade called the master of emergencies, the napoleon of adversity and at the end of the war he went back on wilson's instructions to organize relief to europe many countries over 20
countries receive food assistance that hoover orchestrated and facilitated and truly tens of millions of people were dependent on that relief. >> host: at that time he had the opportunity to form some opinions about the revolutions that were going on in europe where there 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. >> hoover as an american traveled all over the world and he was a perceptive observer. he was constantly comparing the america he knew what these other social systems many of which were failing. as you mentioned there was great turmoil in the aftermath of world war i. economists had taken over russian the bolshevik revolution in 1917 and hoover had basically pulled out of russia mining interests before the revolution.
they lost a prospective fortune when economists came in and seized the minds and general chaos ensued. it was one of the great lessons he drew from that post-war experience. he saw it as the failure of command and control economies as we would say into use the word socialism bolshevism and so forth especially in russia and he saw this as a great failure but also as a great challenge philosophically to the american way. which probably resulted in his saving more lives than any person who has ever lived. that's a remarkable achievement. after that he returns to united states in 1919 and injured american public life. >> host: that's right and we are going to move through his career very quickly just to brief the reader so we can get to the controversy. he was such a success that those parties vied for his affection.
in the end he went republican. he was commerce secretary to president harding and president coolidge and didn't get along very well with president coolidge did he? >> guest: initially they did but it became increasingly attends relationship. partly because hoover was much more aggressive in terms of wanting to do public works expenditures and so on that graded against truman's more fiscal conservatism so there were tensions with they were both party loyalists so coolidge did in doors hoover ultimately and 28 and went hoover ran for re-election so it's a complicated story but you are right. it became a tense relationship underneath. >> host: that's right and coolidge is 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 the downturn and this is why they're so much emphasis and so much focus. what did hoover do in the depression period in those first years as president? let's point out the highlights. >> guest: hoover did not leave enlace fair. that was even before he was president so by the standards and the historic stanzas of the presidency he was an activist. what he tried to do was bring in leaders of industry and bankers and so forth to have acquired british approach that would hopefully stimulate recovery through greater public works spending and the like. there were phases to what hoover did. he did some things that he has been criticized for by conservatives by agreeing to the this smoot-hawley terra for example. >> host: there was a great tariff which he signed called smoot-hawley. some of us have seen a little
scene about it in ferris bueller's day off and that tariff was a burden on business at a time when business could ill afford it. >> guest: hoover was reluctant to sign it that it had been pushed through. it was something that his party stood for historically. 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 lower as well as raise tariffs of the other of the hope that scientifically things would work out better. that probably was it for one minute. >> host: what about wages? >> guest: he and other leaders of industry have the view that wages should remain where they were. the argument being that this would create purchasing power for people who are struggling perhaps unemployed and so forth. that has been much debated. >> host: he was like henry
ford though. henry ford believes pay hyundai will buy back the car so it's not keynesianism because keynes wasn't around in this way but it's an idea that it's very 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 expenditure on public works. hoover was an engineer so he had an interest in that kind of thing. i think what happens to hoover as the depression deepens and people did note was the great depression on day one. they thought it was probably a cyclical event but when that pattern didn't hold in the depression deepened hoover found himself increasing pressure for greater expenditures and intervention in a common meme started to hold the line against
that and became very much a fiscal conservative balance the budget say the gold standard in the last year or two of his life. that perceived rigidity on his part was part of the reason he was attacked supposedly forgot doing anything. he believes some policies might not have been all that effective. on the other hand he was valiantly struggling against a total status turn such as he saw coming in the new deal. >> host: there are so many clichés. some people blame him for being too active and some peep all blame him for doing nothing laissez-faire and neither is entirely correct. this is why your writings about hoover are so important. there's a third-grade measure that is often discussed which is they had an enormous tax increase in the later part of hoover's time. i often think and what do you
think doctors nash that in today's terms to go for a high tax i believe 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 and in the gold standard world washington must balance the budget and even enforce and a recession on it by taking the gold away. what do you think about this tax increase and -- >> guest: there was a consensus among economists and politicians at both parties in the that late 31 and early third two that the federal deficit was so gigantic that there had to be tax increases to balance the budget because as you say balancing the budget was perceived to be critical to recovery. the question was do you have a national sales tax or miscellaneous tax or income tax?
i think hoover's favorite was the manufacturer's sales tax but eventually what happened was there was a whole bunch of taxes i have to ride out the consensus of the economic thinking at that time was that this was a wise idea. it's not something that hoover foisted upon the congress. there was consensus. the battle was do you soak the rich or do something else? so those were the parameterparameter s of the debate. secondly if you look at the results of that tax increase even after the rates were raised, 90% of the american people did not pay any income tax. i'm inclined to think whether it was a good idea or a bad idea it was not the catastrophic explanatory idea for the late phase of the depression that some on the right would say. so i tend to think that the tax increase while probably a mistake by our understanding of policy was not nearly as much of
a mistake or in that context you might say what choice did they have? i think hoover's gotten too much criticism on that. >> host: you think of it in an emotional art. the stock market went down into the 40s from 381. the country is very angry so who had they chosen to blame? its hoover. he is the most blamed president in a way and quickly to move on a little bit before we talk about the work of a biographer and editor, hoover is out in 33 out on his rear and unfortunately not included and goes back to california. you have said that he resented the u.s. presidency because long after the presidency held the record in fact until jimmy
carter surpassed him of more than three decades. can you briefly tell us what he did in that post-presidency. too? >> guest: you are exactly right, he was a pariah when he left office and hate it as much as any person in american history but he did not go quietly away. he did go out to california. he stayed out of sight for about a year and a half so it gave roosevelt the chance. he wanted to permit a genuine change of administration but hoover then became for reasons of temperament and partly because of his wanting to vindicate himself and partly because of the threat and merging the k that as an ex-president. maybe theodore roosevelt had inclinations along that line but hoover became really the leader of the opposition. he fought back. he wrote a book in 1934 which was kind of his return to the
scene called the challenge to liberty and perhaps who will talk about that in a moment. he ended up becoming a figure as critic of the new deal. he actually really wanted to be president again and there is considerable evidence in 1940 he was angling for hoping for the republican nomination said he wanted to return to public life. he became i would say the intellectual leader of the republican party during the period from 1933 until eisenhower said administration and the return of the republicans to the presidency in 1953. hoover became a man of faith wife because he saw himself as a progressive republican and 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. all these years he is writing books and doing all sorts of philanthropic work. people forget that all for almost 30 years he was the chair of the boys club and made that
into a major philanthropy for an urban voice and 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 forgot it if we ever knew it that he advised for example william f. buckley. he was around when the conservative free-market journal for freeman was created. he was a counselor to many conservatives or out of power republicans. they didn't always take his advice and he gave it often but he was there and that father figure is underappreciated in modern history as well. he had a phrase of regimentation. what did that mean? >> guest: that was his term
for the new deal. it was a variant of a number of variants of what he called statism state control of the economy, state control of society socialism communism -- ism. it was the american variant which had a relationship he thought to the other was regimentation. in essence the economy would not hear free economy simply regulated by government as umpire which hoover said was his crutch but it would become a top-down managed economy with government dictating to business or even the hating as leader of business organizing business. hoover argued that properly regulated individualism was the proper alternative to what he called sheers socialism. >> host: so he is thinking about communism in russia which he deplores. he was not for recognition of congress russia buddies also complaining about regimentation
in the new deal which is related to what we would call mandates, unfunded mandates for example, too many rules. it would be too much state control. i want to move briefly because it's very important to you and your own career and the art of working on hoover. you are from new england. he went to amherst college where hoover didn't go but coolidge did. you are class of 67 and coolidge was class of 95. you are also quite a scholar. what was your first book? >> guest: the conservative intellectual movement in america since 1945 was my doctoral dissertation. >> host: this book had a tremendous effect on many conservatives or free marketeers. i remember is he a writer at "the wall street journal" learning about it. lately you did a revision of that of sorts. what do you think, what did you
see that than what changed? >> guest: the initial book is a history of the conservative intellectuals after world war ii and more recently i've done a book of writings called reappraising the right in which i bring up to date some of the more current happenings. while doing that i worked as a historian and biographer on several volumes produced on the life of herbert hoover. i got into herbert hoover by invitation. it was not something i expected to do after getting my dissertation completed and looking for a job on the academic job market so i was commissioned to write up other fee of hoover. i thought it made sense because hoover as you mentioned was a friend of and a patron of an israeli figure for many of those embattled and beleaguered conservatives in the new deal. not so it made sense to me to transition to hoover. >> host: that is how many conservatives feel today.
one of the ingesting things you have said george is that while chico is 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: to thing. one there was the hoover period and into the 70s a developing concern and william f. buckley junior was a major figure in the conservative presence that in 1960 putting all the conservative intellectuals and united states into one room of modest size. now we have a much more elaborate infrastructure and app rattus of conservatism and its many formulations so it's a much richer period for a conservative to live in because a movement has grown and matured. but there was a time when it was very much a lonely occupation
and back in those eras and hoover in that era was kind of a figure of rectitude. here is the man that had been defeated but made his way back and was fighting the good fight. >> host: and a figure of consolation. i want to ask you briefly just to say what did he do with the hoover institution before we come to the brake? >> guest: herbert hoover founded what is called today the hoover institution on war or revolution in peace. it started in world war i and its aftermath as he began to collect documentation relating to the war particularly his own relief work and expanded the mission. he wanted to find and save for future historians tremendous amounts of material that might otherwise be lost or overlooked and what document is a man's -- an immense human tragedy so it started as a war collection archive and has grown to a much broader institution with a
think-tank characteristic as well. >> host: but with the fabulous archive on soviet material especially, the world's premier archive on that. >> guest: there is much there that is not elsewhere and in fact the story is told that he ended up at the hoover institution doing research for some of his later writings and he records there that he could not have access to had he not been in the soviet union. >> host: you wrote that this might've been his greatest accomplishment which is very interesting. say a few words about that and we will close for a minute. >> guest: in 1959 at the end of this phenomenal career in which he was 50 years in the public eye and for him to say that i thought was a remarkable statement. i think that illustrated his great concern that history be understood in the lessons of history be assimilated by people in this great archive that he
founded to make a single or contribution to better understanding of the world of revolution and the world of communism and national socialism and nazism. this tremendously tumultuous and bloody 20th century and here he was collecting from all over the fascinating story the documentation that future historians could delve into andy thought maybe that was his greatest contribution to america. >> host: from robert conquest to anne appelbaum soviet scholarship always views has archived this library in the hoover institution is certainly one of the premier think-tanks in america. we will come back very shortly after our break. ..
and about his idea in american individualism. is there anyone to add? >> guest: i wouldn't have time to list but this is an eminent group of people i knew all of them except for mr. lyons the past years ago. the hoover scholarship has taken off partly because the papers were open in the 66 and at that point people have to rely on newspaper articles and so forth and now they got to see the story from the inside of severe has been kind of a boom if you well in the scholarship and maybe more detachment as time has passed int and some of the emotions have faded so i'm happy to be in the company of scholars and the institutions into the hoover presidential library in
iowa. >> host: what is the presidential library and the hoover institution? >> guest: it was founded by herbert hoover by his alma mater effectively. it is in the framework of stanford university. >> host: i want to say that doctor nash is wearing the hoover institute tie. we are all very proud of the hoover institute. it's a wonderful place. >> guest: it is 285 feet tall. at the presidential libraries in the united states administered largely by the archives and one of those in the system is the presidential library which is at its birthplace in west branch iowa and that was my base of operations for several volumes.
i've also spent i think many months every minute i've n. joy at the institution if you are a biographer you end up having to draw upon the archives resources of both places so that gives you a bit of background into the context in which i work as an independent scholar. >> host: viewers that end up in west branch might want to know there's other papers including some papers of the wide opera company may be laura ingalls wilder about the writing of the famous little house books. how did rose wilder, the daughter of laura and i put herbert hoover? >> guest: the papers went to a man named roger mcbride who is
deliberative and candidate for president or at least he was an active libertarian and donated the papers to the library in iowa so that's how the papers end up in the library. through his donation as i understand. she actually wrote one of the first campaign biographers way back in 1920 and she went around and interviewed people and i don't think he cared for the buck and i really. but anyway they were acquainted. >> host: this is exciting and gives you a feel for how friendly he was and for whom he was a figure. people you never would have imagined. here's your book. it's not your first. it's the sixth or seventh. after the presidency where does this fit in and what does it add a?
>> guest: it was previously unknown to exist. in my years of study i've never known a -- >> host: there was a dramatic discovery. >> guest: it was part of a set of memoirs he started to write after wendell wilkie got the nomination and the hoover realized that was his last chance so he said he'd was taking a new turn into writing what turned into six volumes of memoirs. four of them were published in his lifetime. there were two of them left one of which historians knew about because he referred to them in other places. after hoover died in 1964 this manuscript called the magnum opus, the term that he and his staff used for world war ii and its aftermath of what he saw as roosevelt's foreign-policy end oandthe errors that he thought e
made. the magnus opus was given to him by the title freedom betrayed. that was put in storage after he died in 1964 and so far as i can determine since the people who made the decision are long deceased it was likely to cause a controversy and open political battles if that manuscript were published just after his state funeral. he is an elder statesman at this point and then to turn away with a blast from the past it didn't seem like the right moment. and it was not until another generation of the family came along and decided that the time had come to bring the book to publication and it came out in 2011. i give you all that prelude because while working on that other book i found in the 200 boxes of papers the manuscript
of this book and this is a companion volume. the other one focuses on foreign-policy. this is his account of what he called the crusade against collectivism during the new deal period and it has interesting chapters on his philanthropies for the time. go of the two volumes that have recently been published is his post-presidency is only one of them is known to exist and then i discovered as i mentioned before this one and with the permission of the family foundation, this book has just been released. >> host: so many books. he seems to have written his autobiography a number of times and these books are long. you can see the edits where he says that hoover changed that or
that. is this a sort of more like frederick douglass that wrote the biography? why did he feel the need to go back? >> host: he wrote over 30 books including my favorite statistics between 80 to 90. not including the two that we are talking about. >> host: did he turn to the dictaphone? >> guest: though a pencil and then he would returned to the manuscript and rewrite and revise it and send it back again and again and get to the point he would like to see what it looks like and pay first. then he would keep tinkering with that. i think it was perfectionism he wanted not only the style is to bstylus to beperfect but also te
purchased because he's also many as having a purpose. then against the crusader and the regimentation and all that. he regarded these as having a great value for people to learn lessons from and he thought because of his stature as it affects the president into the resources that he has said he felt he was in a unique position to bring out to the american people some important lessons about the recent history. but he didn't quite let it go. he finished to the other book before he died and then --
>> host: you want to have a man with tremendous energy and the description of him going in and opening a can of campbell's soup when he's alone at 12 a.m. and then going off to write a little bit. he was correcting. do you think that he knew frederick hayek who did speak of the road to serfdom? >> guest: they corresponded once or twice and i know he was hoping he would get a blurb for the magnum opus of his own but i haven't been able to find much beyond that and possibly some correspondence has been lost. it would seem at least a couple of contacts and correspondence but beyond that, i don't know. >> host: now we come to the controversy because if you read
the papers today it is all his fault to great depression or once in a while this is why this book is timely since it's been discovered because it is about what happened in that dark economic period and i wanted us to mention one thing we discovered that it could discovered. people often blamed calvin coolidge for a statement he allegedly made as late as 29. the statement was the market was just fine. what did you discover? >> guest: it was against
coolidge is that prosperity was absolutely found and the stock was cheap in the market and it turned out the only source that i've been able to find and others have been able to find is herbert hoover. he makes the point about coolidge but what i did a year or so ago and we discussed this before, hoover wrote several drafts and it turns out in the initial draft he made the statement before he came into office as the president before he left. in the script revision whether it was the secretary putting in something added by the time the book gets published in 1952 or so it looks like he said this
precisely and we haven't been able to find it at that time. he may have had a slip of his memory or have been thinking of an earlier episode when he makes some comments about the stock market. >> host: we all have a natural eagerness to shift the blame over to someone else. both of them felt the burden of the terrible motion in the business cycle. quite interesting. since we've been studying hoover, there's been some revision that's important to point out. one piece of the revision
relates to the soviet union. when you begin writing hoover said the soviet union wa was a d but history didn't always say the soviet union was bad. since then through the discovery of papers in the reality reported by the soviet refugees that came over we come to see in the new deal who were communists or some who were reporting to moscow and that is a big change since you've become a historian and part of that is possible because of hoover's work in the archives. nonot everyone reported that wih some data for example henry dexter white. hoover wasn't exactly wrong that the soviet union was evil or that it had some influence.
>> guest: he regarded the recognition, diplomatic recognition in the 1933 he said it gave them respectability and much easier access into american public lif life and in the 30s they developed what was called the popular front and so perhaps at one point there were 100,000 members in the united states. that may seem small but they were concentrate concentrated ae and energetic and so forth and hoover was worried about this and he thought that this was pulling the new deal to the le left. >> host: they thought he was hysterical and in the social and economic prospect of the soviet union. >> guest: hoover argued if we were not careful in our proper destruction of the odyssey evil empire we would have another evil empire in its place and stalin would win the war and
that's part of the argument of this other book on a parallel volume number two of the crusaders that roosevelt had a very naïve feeling about his ability to domesticate. he saw that the book as his testament to the american people saying you've got to understand of the mistakes that we made in the notion that we have and -- the regimentation and leftist but controversial today and interesting and important when you look at the current policy where is it expansionist and where is it not. david davenport recently
published a book saying the new deal is the paradigm for the debate if you are for it or against it and if you are against it then you have other positions about the current policy. they say that hoover is a defined or. he's retro and out of it. i -- what i enjoyed very much about the book is that you showed that coming you showed hoover thinking up a new deal and formatting things that could be offset articles today. you quoted him we cannot extend over the daily life of people without someone making it a master of people's souls and thoughts. on this new deal and how it might be perceived. >> guest: i'm glad that you mentioned them just out of few months ago, same publisher i
might add create neither of us knew the other was writing the separate volumes but we have a great deal of convergence and fought in recognizing a prophetic figure into the leader in the deployment of arguments and anti-statist arguments that have now become and trickle and they are arguments that we are having so. it's kind of a permanent issue in our politics. the free economy which is the problem just the solution and how far we go in the regulation and deregulation and so forth so he raises issues in this book which are very defining as you say of the american political landscape. in 1932 or gave a talk in the madison square garden addressing the climactic speech of the campaign he said that this election is more than a contest between two men and two parties. it's between two philosophies in government and the outcome will
dictate the course of american life for 100 years to come and he regarded that as one of the most prophetic speeches he ever gave so what he's doing in this book is documenting his battle against the new deal all through the 30s and 40s into the and the aftermath and he regarded this as a critical fault line last the america that he knew, the america of the more individualistic philosophy that that might be lost and we would move towards a kind of regimental society, managerial state -- >> host: that there would be a step-by-step. to recall the new deal was in the 1930s when the great depression was and unfortunately unemployment did not come down and the stock market did not recover. those are the two facts that
make it to the great depression. that is the duration that made it so great. sometimes he went too far. you have a wonderful item in your appendix e. where he wrote a letter to a justice asking him. can you tell us about that? >> guest: yes in 1940 very briefly wendell wilkie was running against roosevelt and he was afraid he would get his third term so he went to the justice charles hughes and asked him to resign from the court in the middle of the campaign against roosevelt. roosevelt had a big battle a few years ago that cost him a lot of political support and he had been an opponent. hoover came up with this idea
that this gesture might turn the tide of the campaign. he thought he couldn't put them in jeopardy that way by using his position to leave it and then do this and i think he also felt that he would appoint a new dealer and he didn't stay on the court much longer but this is one of the documents i found that hoover doesn't talk about in the regular book but i felt it belongs in an appendix because it's a rather sensational it would have been had it happened. >> host: with his own sense of importance any sort of cassandra knowing something added how to conduct yourself which is different as a next president. i worked with president bush and one of the things with
incredible graciousness at pulling back he was a less active president because he is more on the statesman and of it but it's hard. you have anxiety about the future and how the past gets perceived. what do you think is the single most important thing in this book? >> guest: hoover was unusual among political figures in his time and ours in that he believed in the importance of understanding of the past in order to avoid the mistakes of the present and the future so he didn't want to go quietly into the night or let the new dealer's monopoly d. biko monopolized so he sketched out a counter america of which meant the new deal came under criticism and i think that
argument whether or not one accepts every detail it is part of a constant argument we have about the place if the government can be a menace and a help. so he sold the creeping collectivism in and worried about to tell it. liberals but they thought we could still have state control of enterprise. he said you can't have that combination. there are interesting comparisons. >> guest: >> host: some fans do not like hoover. this is the way americans think about themselves and politics through these figures. so here's the gospel according to paolo balto.
what might hoover have thought about china now what do you think? >> guest: he was highly disturbed that it had undermined in the late 1940s and permitted them to take power. there are several books out and i think that hoover would say look at the cost of communism in china from 1949 until the turn towards greater economic freedom in the 80s so he was a think of what was lost before china found itself to move in a more prosperous direction but think
of the tens of millions of people that lost their lives because of the utopian policies. china has gotten beyond that so he would go on to say we might have avoided all of that if we hadn't been so naïve and thinking he was just one more reform. >> host: if you were a graduate in 1960 or 1971 to be learned is that china was different and it was their culture to be communist and anyone that said the chinese communism is terrible is a bit hysterical and we didn't really learn about the great famine the professor described in a book or other authors who wrote about this famine where tens of
millions died and now i guess to what hitler did this was a hidden history that didn't get much time or attention. china, russia -- >> guest: he's trying to bring out the dangers of the trends before people learn that the cost so i think he would have been frustrated to think that we have these evolutions about the period in china and it is only later that we found out or that we find out from the papers released in the 1990s that the extent of the espionage much of which hoover had figured out before so i suspect they were feeling a little out of sorts and to say why do you americans
take so long to reach the conclusions that should have been playing had you been studying your history early-onset he's trying to be a historian and a teacher in this book. >> host: and this is not about ideology it's that the facts are there but we never got them. so we have a blast question what is your advice to young scholars who might follow you where you might teach. what should they look at? >> guest: they shouldn't pay too much attention to all of the historiography that's developed. i like to quote a certain phrase who used to say nothing can deceive like a document so i urge them don't just take what seems to be the face value of
the documentation. you have to have skepticism and dig deeply and therefore not accept just the standard narrative for the conventional wisdom. much of the conventional wisdom has turned up about the new deal period and early on and the heroic interpretation that's turned out to be wrong so i would urge the young historians to do that. >> host: as a historian i've noticed that the best kind is to say very magnanimous he always sees others may do some useful work but rather than his own that's one reason beyond the accuracy and the academic contributions that he's admired so much.
herbert hoover knew that he was right and sometimes as he has shown he was. thank you very much c-span viewers, audience and doctor nash for this time. >> guest: thank you very much. >> booktv signature program in which authors were interviewed by journalists, public policy makers, legislators and others on their material. it airs ever every weekend on bv of 10 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9 p.m. on sunday and 12 a.m. on monday. you can also watch online. go to booktv.org and click on "after words" on the upper right side of the page.