tv Book Discussion on The Generals CSPAN January 2, 2016 4:00am-4:56am EST
in 2008, cokie and steve roberts about their interfaith marriage. and here is "founding mothers: a children's book." and in the last couple of years, last year "capital dames" by cokie roberts about civil war women. thanks for the last three hours. >> guest: so good to be with you, peter. thank you so much. and thank you to your very kind viewers.
of the store's owners, bradley graham and lissa muscatine, welcome to the store. it's a pleasure to be hosting winston groom and to hear him discuss his latest book, "the generals." winston groom will talk and read for about a half an hour and then take questions for 15 or 20 minutes more. we encourage questions. we just need you to ask them from one, from the microphone right over here both so everyone can be involved and also for our c-span audience. it's great to welcome winston groom back to d.c. where he was born and where he worked as a reporter for the washington star. he's an author of fiction and nonfiction with novels including forest gump and gone with the sun and histories including a storm in flanders, shiloh: 1862, and tonight's book, "the generals." one of his gifts is his ability to flush out characters of these three influential but different
leaders, discussing their differences in the first world war and how those experiences shaped their personalities and choices in the second. another gift is his style which makes this work of history informative and also a page-turner. so please welcome winston groom. [applause] >> first, i'd like to thank everybody for coming out to hear me on this lovely saturday afternoon in washington d.c. i have been on a book tour now for a couple of weeks. i've learned something about what people want to know. one of the first questions i'm usually asked when i do a tv or radio show is why did you choose these three men from the second world war? and my answer is that they embodied, i believe, super characteristics of courage,
character and patriotism which seem to be traits that are on the wane somewhat today. but i don't think we're going to find out if that's a problem until we, god forbid, have another big war. i hope we don't. the second question i think is pertinent, people have asked is what do you think these three generals would do today in the face of the enemies that -- i think what they would do is they would assemble a reinforced mechanized infantry division of
which there are about half a dozen in this country at the present. they would take them over to where these isis people are. and, now, these people in the mechanized infantry division is about 15-20,000 of the best trained, the toughest, well-armed, well-supported and meanest sons of bitches on in this planet. and they would go through these isis people in about a week. as general patton said, like shit through a goose. [laughter] however, these generals would not have the authority, of course, to do this, this deed. it would have to come from the the administration, and i don't know what is going to happen with this administration, vis-a-vis the isis people. but i can tell like anybody with a brain can tell that they are
very dangerous. right now they are either occupying or seeking to occupy several countries in the middle east. and with all of those countries' assets and resources including oil, banks, they will then -- if they consolidate -- have the ability to purchase very dangerous weapons of mass destruction. and sooner or later they're going to have to be dealt with. so with that in mind, let's continue. these three guys, general marshall, general patton and general macarthur, patton and macarthur graduated from west point.
general marshall graduated from the virginia military institute. and they served in the philippines before the turn of the century. and be after turn of the century along the mexican border until the first world war came along at which point very quickly they became heroes. now, general marshall was a terrific organizer. always was, always had been. and he became general pershing's chief of staff. general macarthur took over, he was a colonel at that point, took over an infantry brigade, then he became a general. he got his first star. general patton became involved in tanks which were very primitive at that point, of course, but he led an enormous tank attack during the battle of the argonnes.
general macarthur, let's go back and look real quickly at their careers. general macarthur, after the first world war, became the superintendent at west point. he remained a general. he then became the army's chief of staff. and later in the 1930s he became a field marshal of the philippine army because the filipinos were worried about the japanese. and macarthur told him he could assemble an army, and it would take ten years. but he thought that they could defend the philippines. well, he ran out of time. general marshall continued with
his job at the banking firm of jpmorgan, he would have made millions of dollars. he was a soldier, that's what he was trained to do x that's what he did -- and that's what he did. so he turned them down. neither was general patton, necessary for him to stay in the army, because he was the richest man in the army. he would go to military bases as a young lieutenant or captain with a string of polo ponies and a yacht. [laughter] and his fellow officers didn't begrudge him that, because he was the best polo player in the army x he was the best -- and he was the best yachtsman in the army. and he actually in 1912 participated in the olympics in stockholm, sweden, in an event called the pentathalon which came from the old greek olympics where you have -- it's a martial
event. you have about half a dozen deferent things that you do -- different things that you do. in the old greek version, they actually kill one another. but in the new version -- [laughter] they set it up to be as though you were military courier, and you had to ride, you had to shoot, you had to swim and you had to shoot a pistol. and patton at that point was a captain, and he was very food at all these things -- very good at all these things because he was the best horseman in the army, and he had been a track star at west point, and he was one of the best shots in the army, and he was the best swordsman in the army. he was called the master of the sword, the only master of the sword they had. he designed the new cavalry saber. but and and also he had learned to swim around catalina island because his family owned it.
[laughter] each of these men had to live up to something in their family, their fathers usually. general macarthur's father had won the congressional medal of honor during the civil war and became, ultimately, the commanding general of the army. but in macarthur's youth, he was still a young captain, posted on these far-flung military forts out in the west where they were still fighting the indians. and macarthur remembers as a child seeing flaming arrows coming across the walls of these
forts. he said himself, he said, i learned to ride and shoot before i learned to read and write. and marshall's father, general marshall, they were from pennsylvania. and his dad was a very successful businessman until his business failed. and there's no way of really telling, but my suspicion that george marshall was such a great organizer because he was trying to live up to not failing as his father had done. he was superb at organizing. general patton's father was a successful lawyer, but he had also gone to vmi, and just by a matter of his age he'd missed all the wars that we'd fought. but general patton's grandfather had been a confederate general who was killed in one of the last ballots of -- battles of te
war. patton had grown up with stories about him, about his grandfather. and he always had wanted to -- he wanted to be a soldier from, almost from the day he was born for some reason. and he was always nervous that he wouldn't live up to the bravery of his ancestors. and so he was always tempting death to find out and prove himself. i mean, one day on the battlefield in france in world war i general patton and general macarthur found themselves talking to each other right in the middle of the fight where all of the men were crouched down in foxholes and stuff, and there was a rolling barrage coming toward them which they could see. and they continued the conversation as patton later wrote to his wife, he said because neither one of us wanted to be the first one to say we better get down.
[laughter] and so they let the rolling barrage roll right over them. they miraculously weren't hurt, but that was the kind of stuff that these guys were made of. macarthur, in fact, was said to be perfectly oblivious to danger. and in the later campaign in new guinea and the philippines, he would horrify his staff simply walking through the battlefield, standing up, looking around, trying to figure out what was going on. he was mortified to have to leave the philippines, which he did at the beginning of the war when the japanese attacked pearl harbor x then they attacked simultaneously the philippines. and macarthur, of course, had not only the filipino army, but at that point he had a good sized american army there, and it became apparent that they were isolated. the navy had been sunk at pearl harbor, and so president roosevelt ordered general macarthur to leave the
philippines. well, he left by pt boat in the dead of night and was taken later to australia where he became the commander in chief of the southwest pacific be area. pacific area. and he made a vow through the press. he said i shall return, which quickly became -- of course, this was the dark days of the war -- it became the iconic slogan of all the americans, because they heard this. and this was, this was something that they wanted to do. i shall return became, it was on, written on coffee cups and the bottoms of ashtrays and cigarette lighters it was engraved on. it was written on walls, it was written over latrines, i shall return. [laughter] and return, he did. it took him three years, but he had developed a strategy. some people call it island hopping, but what he really did was, see, the japanese had had years to occupy numerous
islands -- and there are numerous islands in that part of the pacific. but rather than take every one of them, he would simply -- what did he call it? let me see here, bypass them, i guess, the best word i can think of. but he'd leave the japanese on these islands to wither on the vine in his rear. and it saved a heck of a lot of men, because taking these islands -- the japanese were very ferocious fighters. when he finally landed back in the philippines in 1944, he almost lost that fight because admiral halsey who was the naval commander of the big battleship and air carrier task force was decoyed up a couple hundred miles out of the way by a japanese trick. they took a bunch of their carriers that didn't have any
planes on them and sent them up as a sacrificial lamb because they wanted halsey out of the way. and as soon as he was out of the way -- and general macarthur, at this point, had been on the beaches for about three days with all of his transports, all of his air materials, his ammunition and transport ships out into the harbor there -- and suddenly the entire japanese surface fleet appeared. they had come through the straits of san byrne dean know where -- san bernardino where admiral halsey was supposed to have been to watch and make sure they didn't get through. but they came through. fortunately, and i'm writing about this in my next book. it's going to be called the admirals -- [laughter] as you might suspect. but that morning there was a small task force of what they call escort aircraft carriers there, maybe half or even less
the size of the big aircraft carriers and virtually no, no armaments on -- they had one five-inch gun. and they were escorted by three u.s. destroyers and three destroyer escorts which are basically like a yacht or something. and this huge japanese force which consisted of five battleships, one of them -- two of them were these enormous super battleship with 18-inch guns. bigger than any battleship in the world and certainly better armored. they suddenly appeared over the horizon at dawn to this force of aircraft carriers, escort aircraft carriers, commanded by admiral clifton sprague. they called him ziggy. and somebody reported to ziggy that they could see these huge masts on the horizon about 20 miles awayment they had
binoculars or big telescopes. and he said, well, that's got to be admiral halsey. so a plane went up there to look at it, they launched a plane. this guy said, no, it's not admiral halsey, it's japanese. admiral sprague said, it can't be. take another look. the plane radioed back, sir, they're shooting at me. [laughter] it's the japanese, they've got a big red sun on the flag. well, everybody went into a grand panic, and admiral halsey, they begged him to come back. he was at that point engaging these aircraft carriers, he was sinking them one after another, and he was very reluctant to do so. to make a long story short, which i will, this little group of six destroyers and destroyer escorts and aircraft escort carriers held off the entire japanese surface be fleet. i mean, the only thing i could compare it to, it's like a high
school team beating the dallas cowboys. [laughter] it was really remarkable. it cost us over a thousand sailors' lives because they sank most of the destroyers, ultimately. but they, they distracted them enough and they launched torpedoes on them, and the aircraft from these little escort carriers. but they didn't, they weren't prepared for this. so they said launch 'em anyway, because if they sank, they'd lose the planes. so they would go strafe these enormous battleships with machine gun bullets which is rather absurd. and then they would go -- when they ran out of machine gun bullets on dummy runs just to scare hem. every time you made a run and a japanese warship sees you coming, he's going to change course, and it slowed them down enough where finally after about three hours of in the japanese commander ordered his ships to go back north to sort of reorganize.
that was the original plan. and when he finally got all his ships together, he discovered that about 13 of them had been sunk. so he went back through the san bernardino straits, and general macarthur proceeded on his mission. if that fleet had gone t into the lehte gulf, they would have murdered everybody on that beachhead because these big naval guns can shoot 25 and 30 miles. and they had bullets the size of a full grown hog. anyway, meantime, back to the story. general patton, while general macarthur was winning, beginning to win his battles in new guinea and the island campaign, general patton took command of the invasion of north africa where he landed in morocco. and the enemy there was not the
germans or the italians at that point, it was the vichy french, the french army that was being commanded by the, essentially, puppet government of france in the isty of vichy. and the -- in the city of vichy. the question was, were they going to fight? well, they did fight. they started shooting and so forth at macarthur's troops on shore, and he sent a message to the french commander in casablanca that he had -- patton sent this message, if you don't surrender this city by 5:00 this afternoon, i'm going to have it destroyed. and they could look out there and see all these big warships, cruisers, battleships, they could have leveled that city in about half an hour. and so they surrendered. and patton was successful and, of course, got himself in all the newsreels and so on. he then conquered sicily before
going on to england. there he commanded a dummy army that was designed to fool the germans. didn't have a lot of troops, had a lot of radio traffic and things. and this was because of the infamous slapping incident where general patton had lost control of himself, and he found a soldier in a hospital ward who was there for some kind of combat fatigue i think they called it then, and general patton did not believe in combat fatigue. so he jerked the soldier up and began to browbeat him. and this was reported by the hospital doctors, and eisenhower found out about it. eisenhower initially didn't do anything about it. he put a letter in the file. but then the press got hold to it, and it ramped all over the u.s. that general patton had been slapped -- slapping his soldiers. that's a violation of law, it's
also a very rude thing to do if you're a general, to slap a private. general eisenhower's thinking about firing general patton. here's where general marshall comes n. of these three men two, general patton, general macarthur, had enormous egos. general marshall had practically no ego at all. he could have, if he wanted to, have appointed himself to take command of the european invasion which was probably the most dreamed-of job by any military commander. and general marshall had not ever had the opportunity to command troops in battle which he wanted very much to do. but president roosevelt asked him to stay in washington because he felt he was a calming influence, so to speak, on the usual tensions between the army and the navy and what later became the air force. and so general marshall -- i
think it was one of the most selfless things a military officer did in that war. he said, yes, sir, i'll stay here here to general eisenhower. at the same time, general marshall realized that he had two very temperamental people in general patton and in general macarthur. and general macarthur was making very unkind statements about washington and the general staff in the pacific because he felt he wasn't getting the right kind of support and supplies. and, in fact, he wasn't. roosevelt and winston churchill had come to an agreement of what they called the germany fist policy. like i said, most of this tough over to europe and to the allies, british and russians, so on. general macarthur was getting the short end of the stick down in new guinea, and he didn't like it. so he began to talk to the press about it which is not a politic thing for a general to do unless
he's the head general. and general marshall was the head general. but he looked at all this, and he kept eisenhower from firing patton. he kept macarthur right in his place because he realized that they, beth -- both these men were indispensable to the winning of the war and the shortening of that war. the war had been won, i suspect, but they shortened the war which saved a heck of a lot of lives. every day they put into the meat grinder probably a thousand, two thousand men. in any case, they -- ah, patton. once more. just so everybody, and y'all probably have seen the movies is and you know what happens in this story. but in france they finally unleashed general patton away from his dummy army and gave him a real army, the third army.
and he was like a racehorse that's been in a pen too long. they had already landed the invasion army, but they were stuck in normandy, and patton saw a way to break out of normandy and get into the open where he could run his tanks, which he did. he first came to the seine where he liberated paris, and then he came to the rhine. they stopped him at the rhine because they ran out of supplies, the reason being we were giving the supplies such as gasoline and ammunition to the british. they were trying to catch up, and eisenhower was trying to play the politician and not let patton get too far ahead of general montgomery, the british commander. and so general patton counteracted this by what he called his rock soup strategy. and rock soup strategy was this: he would -- well, let me explain the rock soup strategy first. in the depression poor people,
the hobos would go to somebody's back door. -the story was anyway. and they would knock on the door, and they would have a cup of water with a rock anytime, maybe two or three rocks x. the guy would say to the lady, you know, ma'am, i'm trying to make some rock soup, and i wonder many maybe you have a top of an onion or some old celery or something i could put in here. and she'd feel very sorry for him having to eat rocks. so she'd give him a carrot or an onion. he'd go back and say, well, ma'am, i hate to ask you this, but do you have an old potato eye or something, peelings of potatoes i could put in my rock soup? she'd say, well, yes, i have that. and he'd go back in a little bit and knock on the door again. ma'am, you know, it would sure be nice to have a small piece of meat, just a piece of fat for my rock soup.
and then she'd give him that, he'd walk away, and he'd have some soup to eat. patton's analogy, what he'd do when he got stopped by general bradley who was his immediate commander and general eisenhower, the first thing he'd do is get right up on the german lines and pick a fight. and that fight would get bigger, it would get -- because patton knew if his people were actually in a fight, they weren't going to deny him anything if they could. so he would employ his rock soup strategy every time they said he was going too far, too fast. it was rock soup every time, and he would inch forward. after the war was over, general patton was assigned to command the occupation of bavaria which is, i think, the largest state in germany. general eisenhower had sent out an order that they weren't to to employ nazis in any kind of important positions.
general patton disobeyed this order. he did it, he said, because he was extremely worried about the welfare of the baa varon people because -- bavarian people because they had a big winter on, there was a big shortage of everything, especially firewood, food, things like that. patton didn't think some of the nazis were so bad. if you owned a store and you weren't a nazi, you couldn't own the store. that was his rationale, right or wrong. so unfriendly press corps members ferreted this out. and they had a very unpleasant press conference which they got patton to admit this. eisenhower finally gave him the excuse he wanted. he -- they didn't fire patton like the newspapers said. what he did was he relieved him from one army, and he gave him command of another army, the 12th army, which was essentially
a paper army. but he was going home anyway, patton was. unfortunately, a few days before he was to return home he was going pheasant hunting, and there was another general in one of the big army cadillac staff cars, and the driver left, crossed over a railroad track, and there was a line of trucks coming the other way. one of them veered over into the lane and hit the left-hand side of that car. nobody was hurt in the car, but general patton who was somehow propelled upward and forward, and he struck his head on a steel object that was held a glass partition between the driver and the people in the back and it paralyzed him. it paralyzed him to such an extent that he was doomed. but the army immediately sent their top neurosurgeon. he was having, getting ready to
have his christmas dinner in the united states, and the next day he's seeing general patton. general patton was perfectly cheer in his head. he suspected what was going to be his fate. but they gave him a ration of scotch every day. he liked johnnie walker. and his wife was flown over at the same time. the surgeon looked at the x-rays, and then he went and examined general patton, and general patton said, well, what do you think's going to happen to me? he said, well, i don't know. you've survived a long time for this kind of injury. and he said, will i ever be able to ride a horse again? and the surgeon said, no, sir. and he said thank you for that. and within a week, i think, he ultimately sank and passed away. there are some recently all these rumors that he was assassinateed, and it's nonsense. he died in an accident, and he's buried in a big army cemetery in
luxembourg. general marshall, the country was simply unable to function. there was no trade. there was a very big danger that the communists were going to move in and take over. he talked to the administration -- at that point it was the truman administration -- and to congress because he was such a towering figure that he made it unpolitical. so he went to the congress and asked for an unlimited amount of money to pull these countries through their tribulations, their financial worries. and this was granted, and it was done, and it was one of the finest things that this country has ever done. we didn't have to do it, because this was done on the backs of the u.s. taxpayers. but after that general marshall's career, it seemed to
me was not as sterling as it might have been. he became secretary of state. he was too trusting of russians, the russian communists and the chinese communists. because he had been working with the russians, the soviet union, all during the second world war. we were allies, of course. and we cooperated with each other. but he didn't realize that once the war was over and the soviet union was safe, that they weren't going to cooperate with us anymore. and if you think the communists are going to cooperate, just like putting a cobra and a mongoose in the same cage and expecting a different result. they simply began to encroach more and more in europe. he spent a year, general marshall did, in china trying to sort out the differences between mao tse-tung and chiang kai-shek s and he failed completely because he, again, tried to get them together to work together, and they weren't going to do it.
and so he came home and he said, i failed. so they made him secretary of state, and they made him secretary of defense. but he was quite a gentleman, one of the nicest people. i mean -- i didn't meet him, but i've read enough about him. he was a fine man. general macarthur will be the last person we'll deal with here. he, of course, for the five years after war revitalized japan as an occupation commander and turned it into an industrial, friendly, civilized nation. and for the first time they became a democracy, and they held their first elections. during first election there was -- this first election there was this governor that had been selected as a representative of
parliament or whatever you call it. the japanese were very chagrined about this. they went to general general mac arkansasture, what should we do? they told him, well, she must be doing something right. but all good things come to an end, and the korean war developed in 1950. the north koreans, korea was divided at that time, and the north koreans attacked the south koreans, and we pledged to defend is the south koreans. macarthur took what army he had up there -- which wasn't very much, because we had disbanded our army pretty much, army and navy. but he managed to hold back the communists and then get himself embroiled in an argument with president truman over how far back he should throw these communists, whether he should
stop somewhere. president truman wanted the negotiate. general macarthur was not a really good negotiator. he was going to win the war, and so president truman issued an edict at some point that a military officer was not to make statements publicly until he cleared them with the white house. and macarthur, almost suicidal thing, he went to the press, and he very publicly said -- without clearing it with anybody -- to the chinese people that if they don't surrender to him within one week, he's going to destroy them. and this made president truman very angry, because he was trying to put people down to the table. in any case, he fired general macarthur. but the sentiment at home was all for macarthur. he was brought back to enormous receptions, i think in san francisco half a million people, quarter million people were there to meet him, ticker tape parade in new york city, and he
addressed both houses of congress with such a stirring, emotional speech, it was the old soldiers never die speech, they just fade away. it prompted the speaker of the house to say afterward that there was not a delay eye on the democrat side, nor a dry seat on the republican side. [laughter] general macarthur lived long into his '80s. he lived atwal do have astoria. -- at the waldorf-astoria. he loved going to plays and movies. he was always a big movie fan. but in the year before his death -- no, two years before his death, i'm sorry, he was asked to make a speech to the cadet cans at the united states -- cadets at the united states military academy at west point. he agreed to do it. and it's worth repeating verbatim here.
he told them that war was an abomination. if it was up to him, he would abolish war. but then he quoted plato who had written only the dead have seen the end of war. and then he said, "is the shadows are lengthening for me, the twilight is here. i listen vainly but with a thirsting ear for the melody of bugles blowing and faraway drums beating." "in my dreams i hear again crash of guns, the rattle of musketwith ry, the strange and mournful mutter of the battlefield. but in evening always i come back to west point. always the echo and reecho in my ear duty, honor, country. today marks my final roll call with you, but i want you to know that when i cross the river, my last conscious thoughts will be
of the corps and the corps and the corps." two years later, he was gone. he was last one. and that's my speech, and i appreciate it. [applause] thank you. >> we have 15 minutes of questions. please make your way to the microphone, if you would line up right there. thank you. take it away. >> [inaudible] people like eisenhower or omar bradley? did you find patton -- [inaudible] >> well, that's a good question. fair question that's been asked before. the last book i wrote was called "the aviators," and it was about three guys that were the tower
of aviation in the 20th century. eddie rickenbacker, jimmy doolittle who conducted the famous air raid on tokyo, and who else it was -- i forget. oh, lindbergh, charles lindbergh. [laughter] i found that three people, if you write about more than three people, it's hard on the reader and the writer. and for some reason, you know, there were a lot of books that have been out in the last few years with two people like roosevelt and churchill, something like that. i upped the ante on three. so i had to select the three. and, obviously, i wanted somebody in the pacific theater, and obviously that was general macarthur. i looked at europe, i wanted a fighting general. that would be general patton. eisenhower is all over the book because he was the boss -- they were great friends before the war. they were,lied next door to each
other -- lived next door to each other on several army posts, drank whiskey together. but i just felt that general eisenhower was too far away from the action. and general patton was also, by far, the most colorful character. and i wanted somebody in between. that would be general marshall because he was trying very hard to keep both of those guys from imploding before the war was over. so i figured -- and i wanted somebody who was back at that level of command, at the high staff command. because i think it gives the reader a better idea what was going on in the big picture. is that -- that's it. >> so my question was i know that in sort of recent years patton has been sort of reevaluated. i know there are many people who think that perhaps while he's a very popular general, he may not have been as good of a general as previously suggested. so in your view, how did he rate amongst his peers in the
american army? was he, you know, the best tank general that we had, or was that, perhaps, not quite -- >> i get it. yeah, i think he was. he had some very fine generals under him. but in, you know, in the army hierarchy, they don't just grab a guy here, a one-star and put him in command, give him four stars -- that's not the way the army functions. it probably ought to function that way, duh it doesn't. and -- but it doesn't. and patton, of all those guys, he was completely charismatic with his troops. and even when this slapping incident became known, they loved general patton. general eisenhower had ordered him when the slapping incident came out to apologize to the people he slapped, to the doctors in the hospital personally. and also personally to every division in his army. rebellingment or brigade --
regiment or brigade at time. and he did that. -humiliating for him, but he did it. he went to several brigades, and he started to apologize, and they said, no, general, no. so they really -- his troops, i mean, to be in the third army under or general patton was quite an honor for most of these people. at least from what i could read. i'm sure there was somebody that didn't like it, but i think the people all liked him, his peers liked him, most of them did. they all seemed to get along. [inaudible] >> two questions if i could. first, in the like father/like son, you had macarthur's father being cashiered by president taft. could you explain the influence that would have had on the general? second, with regard to marshall in the '50s, joe mccarthy started going after him x president eisenhower was accused of -- [inaudible] >> true.
well, let me see, we've got general macarthur and his father. yeah, i mean, i think that macarthur felt like he had to live up to his father. he tried -- well, he loved his father. i tell you, his father at one point was commander of the philippines, and he took his young lieutenant son fresh out of west point in the philippines, in front of the philippines, he took him on an entire tour of the far east including japan where they met emperor. so he worshiped his father. and he, ultimately, as swell as his father -- as well as his father, he won the medal of honor. it was given to him really because president roosevelt was afraid when he ordered him off of the philippines that he would be accused by some people of deserting his troops. and so giving the man a medal of honor was meant to blunt that. let's see, what was the -- the second part of question was about -- >> same question had to do with marshall. >> oh, marshall, yeah.
senator mccarthy, well, there wasn't just senator mccarthy. it was, the people were, of this country were very disturbed at what was going on in china especially. and the question then became who lost to china. well, marshall was over there. he was supposed to save china, but he didn't. he wasn't able to. i don't know if anybody would have been able to. we might have, instead of trying to get the communists and the other people to negotiate, given arms to chiang kai-shek and supported him militarily. but we were in position after world war ii -- this country wasn't frustrated by it, but we were war weary. and so that decision was made at the highest levels, and marshall concurred with it. mccarthy was a witch hunter,
as most people know. i don't know him personally, i read about him. and he decided to go after general marshall with a lengthy, it was almost a book-like speech. it was about 70 pages, i think, that he made on the senate floor. accusing general marshall of everything under the sun including probably, you know, baby stealing or something, i don't know. it was just the most wild accusation kind of thing. it was ultimately unprovable. but i do think that in the end he had something of a point that general marshall failed to appreciate the nature of the enemy he was dealing with. i don't think he really believed, although he was told, that russians, the soviet communists were very much supporting mao tse-tung. and general marshall didn't believe that. he was told by two or three generals under him. so, you know, but was it a failure? yeah, it was a failure.
we fail all the time. i don't know, does that go anywhere? thank you. >> [inaudible] was here earlier this week talking about his book on the battle of the pulling, -- of the bulge, and he was rather critical of -- [inaudible] patton drove his troops too hard, that many of them suffered from exhaustion, and casualties were higher than they should have been. i wonder if you could comment on that. >> well, i don't know. i haven't, i have not seen any information on that. i have read a great deal about it in both primary and secondary sources, and general patton -- of course he drove his troops. you had an emergency up there. you had a whole division surrounded by several german divisions who were threatening to annihilate them, and general patton was prepared to move there with his tanks. and it was certainly freezing cold. that's always hard. but he trained the troops, and
he expected them to be able to do it, and they did it. >> he promised to do it in 48 hours, and -- [inaudible] thought he should have taken a little more time. >> that's probably true but who knows how long it would take for the germans to finish them off. and what they were facing right there was the weather was so bad that we couldn't get our air power in there. had we been able to do it, because -- [inaudible] if we'd been able to get air power in there, we could have -- that would not have been such an emergency. but the germans had chosen a time period in which their weather people had forecast it was going to be overcast for, like, a week and a half. it turned out now at i think the day east of or -- either of or the day after general patton arrived on the scene with his army the skies cleared and we could, you know, airplanes can bring a lot of hell on tanks. and so we did that.
but, you know, everybody's entitled to his opinion, and i think he's a terrific writer. but, you know, again, it's kind of second guessing. although he may have support things, intelligence obviously said we were doing too much. i don't know about that part of it. but i just know that we didn't lose an american infantry division. thank you. >> thank you. >> so in your research, i'd like to ask about what you thought about the relationship between macarthur and marshall -- >> i'm sorry? >> the relationship between general macarthur and general marshall. my research, you know, when macarthur left, you know, his air force on the ground with nine hours' advance notice of pearl harbor, marshall actually had a telephone conversation with him about that. we don't know what was said, but he left him in charge, you know?
there's no evidence that marshall held anything against macarthur -- in i don't think so. >> strangely deferential at the korean war with macarthur, and i just wondered what you thought about the relationship. >> well, i think relationship considering macarthur's temperament was pretty dog gone good. i know that after the philippine air force was destroyed, hap arnold who was the chief of our air force, the air corps, had a conversation with macarthur's airman who was very unpleasant. but marshall was a guy of such even temperament, which is why he rose to be the chief of staff -- actually, he was the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff over eisenhower and everybody. but he went to visit macarthur maybe twice. once in new guinea and once one of these islands, and they got along fine. mac arthur -- macarthur,
though, as soon as he left would proceed to go get his press corps which, actually, he thought worked for him and say all those unkind things about those guys in washington, meaning marshall, and, of course, that would get back pretty quickly. marshall let it bounce off. he was trying to win war. >> did you ever run into something. >> marshall really made some statement he felt expressed anger or contempt with -- >> no. >> did you ever find any evidence of that? >> did you say for patton? >> marshall, whether marshall ever expressed anger or contempt against mac arthur. >> i'll tell you what he told his chief biographer, and i've got the transcript of all the tapes that general marshall made, oh, gosh, i don't know how many before -- within years before he died. and i distinctly remember a line
in there where he said to the transcriber who was, i think, a sergeant who was his aide, he had never made a public comment against general macarthur. i expect he knew what he'd said, so what he thought privately he went to the grave with as far as i know. but i don't remember any be reading, seeing anything where he had said anything because he, he didn't want to rile macarthur. he was trying to keep the peace. that was his job. thank you. how we doing? >> i think we're done. thank you so much. >> thank you all for coming. [applause] >> so thank you to winston groom. the book is for sale up front. the line will be right here on my heft if you'd like to get -- my left if you'd like to get i signed, and you can just leave your chair where it is. thank you for coming. [inaudible conversations]