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tv   Book Discussion on Commander in Chief  CSPAN  September 12, 2016 7:00am-8:01am EDT

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10 minute ticket becomes a cognitive framework that becomes an example of how jewish can be segregated around the world., >> we are delighted to have everyone here tonight. we are delighted to have nigel hamilton in boston. senior fellow at umass boston and the best-selling biographer and bill clinton.
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are we going to see the clinton biography now?ight we o tonight we are glad to have himh here for commander-in-chief, anf second volume of this at the art trilogy. [applause] >> thanks very much for that gracious introduction. as you know i'm always delighted to be able to talk about my new book here. i was told i didn't even have tm lean close to the it is not working at all? the year-earlier period banks,
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very much for that very gracious introduction. i'm alw as you know, i'm always delighted to have a chance to talk about my new book here at my local bookstore because i live in somerville for half the year and went it starts to know i go south to new orleans where my wife's family comes from and they have very good bookshops there, that night quite as good as this one. so i'm going to talk today about fdr and the sword of thought behind what i'm going to say is the notion, the rather extraordinary side of winston churchill very nearly lost us
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world war ii good last weekend together with mike williams here, i'll said local resident. i was in richmond virginia ande the city as he probably know it's full of memorials. the statutes relating to the civil war. and here we are again. not just the civil war, that is very uncivil war. a presidential election, an election in which the candidate have been filched in an extraordinary, i think probably
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unique bombast, and salt -- insult, mutual detraction. and it does make you wonder, given that we are about to vote for him to elect new commander-in-chief of the armed forces at the united state, it does make you wonder about that role, the constitutional role which the president hold. if the candidate really up to it? i think for that reason, not just history, but for that reason it is very interest in
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taking that, to look back 73 years and consider what happened in the team 43 -- 1943. what can we learn from the role of the president in the middle of a world war? what qualities were needed to win that war as commander-in-chief of the that the united state? i've called this volume, "commander in chief" because that was fdr's role, but at some title ii come the "commander in chief: fdr's battle with churchill, 1943" because that is what the book is about.. there are many stories in the
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book, but the cardinal, sensual story or so ago with in this book is i think one of the most important confrontations that is ever taken place in the leadership of the united states in war and on a global scale, a confrontation between the president and the united states and the prime minister of grape britain and affect the leader of the british commonwealth of nations. now after world war ii, winston churchill wrote his memoirs not just one book, six volumes, six
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magisterial volumes which helped him to win the nobel prize for literature in 1953. that was a great day for literature. it was not a great day for history. here was a british prime minister who had survived the war where fdr had not survived the war. a british prime minister who was intent on telling the story of how he had won world war ii, not the president of the uniteds a states. in fact, during the research for this book i came across a
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wonderful diary entry for winston churchill half chunk of north africa dining with generae eisenhower posted by to bury his mistakes when he came to write the story of how he had won the war, and dairy his mistakes and bury him they did in the six volumes. but they were so wonderfully written in the world was still so admiring of this great figure who alone has chewed for the democracies in 1840, who had insured this one man who insured the atlantic alliance in these two countries together to fight hitler, which know whetherer britain could have done. not chamberlain at the deputy prime minister. no one else could done it. that was winston churchill.
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but once the united states entered the war after pearl harbor and after the declaration of war on the united states or days after pearl harbor, the united states took over the direction of world war ii and nr reading winston churchill's memoirs, you would never believe it. i think in terms of history and historiography, the fact that winston churchill won the nobel prize was a great thing for him, for literature, but not for history. and in this fdr trilogy, i am doing my best to change history
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if by history but understand to look at the past and the way we interpret the past. the first volume, the mantle of command covered fdr in the first or after pearl harbor, up to the moment when american troops finally went onto the offensive and landed in north africa. the second volume takes the story several months later when the president of the united states becomes the first president in american history to fly while in office, flying across the atlantic to north africa and the first president to inspect american troops at war abroad. he flies to north africa at the beginning of this book not only to meet with winston churchill
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and decide the strategy of world war ii, but to make an announcement to the world. unconditional surrender to the astonishment of hundreds of reporters who came secretly, work brought secretly to north africa for this pressnounced th conference, the president announced they would be no negotiation with evil, with tyranny, with military conquest, with genocide, with japanese atrocities. 2 million he knew he had been told by rabbis who visited him on the adobe before, 2 million said three were thought to havet already been exterminated by the germans. unconditional surrender the
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president said. it was never going to happen again. there would be no elite nations. there would be instead a united nations backed by the with superpowers and with the mission of making sure that kind of work by conquest dating to world war but never happen again. i mention this because if we are looking at the qualities that make a united stateslook commander-in-chief, we have to look at the moral dimension, not just the military leadership dimension of the presidency inod his role as commander-in-chief. the president the year before for just over a year before high before congress spoken at the
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four freedoms. in december 1941 he signed the atlantic charter and here he was in costa blanca stating his absolute determination to follow a policy of unconditional surrender of the germans and the japanese. no negotiation. and winston churchill declared to the president. in fact, winston churchill had h gone before the britishthe pres parliament and said he was the president art and impact could left tenant. but what happened after costa blanca. that is the story that many of us have either forgotten or were never made aware of and that is a year battle not only on then battlefield, but between washington and london.
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not even washington and london. was in churchill in 1943 twice came to the united states in an ocean liner with over 200milita military advisers and staff officers to persuade the president of the united states to abandon the strategy he laid down and that she presented at casablanca of launching d-day in the spring of 1944, which would give the allies plenty of time to prepare, rehearsed and trained. churchill's visit to washington into hyde park drove the president of the united state to distraction. at one point fdr said he was going to have to read the attack to winston.
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instead churchville was not willing to commit british troops to what he thought would be a blood bath. the president of the unitedd tht states be relieved that all made by landing across the english channel and friends in berlin. the german beef broth to battle and beaten, defeated in battleil which could grant unconditional surrender to achieve that, the president was quite clear american troop in north africa would crush the germans between air force in tunisia and the british advance into egypt. it is vital the president decided in 1943 that american
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troops learned the business of modern warfare against a ruthless and adopt her at highly professional enemy, that theireo mark. and where better to do that than not the very extremity of german occupation in europe, north lino africa. for the german lines of communication with the end that is exactly what happened. the president recognize, even though he had to make his own generals that were determined-d that d-day should take place, no, american troops have never fired, for the most part, a sho. in anger against the germans. we have to learn the business combat commanders as well as
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troops, the business of modern warfare and where better to do it did in the throated security of north africa and. it's amazing to think that three weeks after costa blanca, american forces were trounced by ronald. the president was absolutely right and one often wonders howh could this man who unlike churchill had never warned the military uniform, although he had been assisted secretary, how could he be so sure of these steps, the strategic steps he wanted the united states to take in order ultimately to be sure of victory over the chairman. i personally think it came from the truly great politician that
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he listened to people. he was paralyzed as you note. he loved meeting people. he's destined to people. they meet the troops on the ground as well as the commanders in to judge for himself what upf with take for these people to learn to defeat such a professional enemy. how right he was. and yet, winston churchill still decided for his own part would not go ahead with d-day. the british would rather abandon d-day. churchill came as i explained in the vote in may of 1943 to and e washington and went behind the back of the president of the
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united states to have hearings board meetings on capitol hill with senior senators from congress and to try and persuade them not to support d-day in 1944. all of his story has sadly been covered up, not only by churchville, but those who followed churches slated in historiography of world war ii, which is one of the reasons i so believe in biography. i believe in the biographers mission to use forensic evidence to reconstruct history and when necessary to correct that. to me, the story of fdr in 1943
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it is an amazing saga. on one hand you have it prime minister who has certainly great qualities. he's inspiring. his wildly popular. he's very photogenic.s but he is impetuous and he doesn't know what he is doing. he has no vision, no moral vision of the future. only if the pass, a briton's glorious past and he has no understanding of how determined that german troops are to defend this part of southern europe which he links obese so we leave
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for the allies to invade italy,o at the agm, if only the,0 president but give him 10,000 mark for americans into action. he is strategically ignorant, but so sure of himself.somehow and somehow this president, this paralyzed president in hisiswhee wheelchair accepts that winston churchill for all his faults is absolutely essential nevertheless to the winning of w world war ii. dj cannot be mounted without an equivalent to reduce troop, british naval forces. i know my father landed on
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d-day, it each 25 commandingn. 1009 by six dozen of them in casualties of the normandy battle. t but that was going to be the deciding battle of the war. hitler is on record as saying this will be the deciding battle and the president was determined to go through a dead ands therefore his challenge was how to bring this recalcitrant obstinance and brilliant british prime minister along with coalition warfare under american leadership.y that is the guts of this story and how close we came to the scene world war ii as churchill had to say. if they had listened to the old
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boys who was a wonderful orator and who had such way of, who could invent a phrase like that, phrases like north africa when the troops are moving veryas slowly and africa was meant to be a springboard, not a sofa. who but churchill could think of those wonderful systems you can find on the internet. that is not military leadership in the global war. at a time -- how are we doing? challenge me as much as you wish. i want to say in a year when we have to decide who will be our next commander-in-chief, should
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it be a politician is supposed politician who is popular, who is a master of twitter?so or should it be someone who has some experience of how to live said, how to build a coalition, how to follow a moral basis byme which americans are willing if they have to to fight and to die because that is what fdr did in 1943. that debt we owe had is
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incalculable. i am only sorry that it hass tos taken seven decade to set this out as clearly as i can. i hope you'll enjoy the book as much as i have enjoyed researching and writing thank you very much for listening to me today. [applause] i think i have the microphone of people that to ask questions. is that right? >> , should churchill's involvement with the disaster of world war i world war i and involved in thinking about innovation of normandy and alsoa what effect does the russian ha
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front having on the thinking about the invasion of normandy? >> well, to answer your second question, what was happening on the russian front? i don't think it had -- i don't think it was a major factor inas deciding when to launch the invasion. it was clear to stalin and to gr what fdr did the germans were something like 400 divisions could not be beaten militarilyad unless they were sandwiched between the eastern front and the western front. so the two did depend on each other. but obviously a failed land to across the english channel that
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kind of help anybody. that is the argument churchill used in not caring that d-day in 1942 or 1943. why he didn't want to do it still in 1944, churchill, whenhe american troops by that time had been in battle, had proven themselves in battle, or the commanders have learned to marry air, ground, naval forces, that is another matter and many people have speculated the disaster were churchill hooked to go through the back of germany, around and out explainw why churchill became obsessed with the mediterranean and the agm and possibly bringing turkey into war. i think there is clearly some psychological motivation there
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that he wants to prove it was a failure and world war i. if it was a great success of world war ii, that would atone for the failure to the saddest thing is that even in churchill's own chief of staff for lyrics that could ever be done. at the end of the book,ted churchill is trying to persuade the president of the united states and if you can't, he'll even go behind his back and go directly with eisenhower. he is trying to persuade the president of the united states that if only the allies would put all their effort into taking rose, cost. i don't know if any of you vacation in the agm, but these are pretty small islands in terms of the strategy of world r war ii. there is a diary kept by
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churchville's chief of staff, british chief of staff saying basically the old man has goneth mad. he is totally obsessed with landing and roads. where the will that get us? so we've been today amongst historians, some historians believe that if only we had landed in the balkans, we could have cut off stalin before he reached central europe. it is a complete fantasy. i've been through the chiefs of staff records. they have their own plans to drop by maps just how high the mountains with the therapy would have defied over. this is fantasy on churchill'src side, but churchill was a
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romantic and that is why i say this saga is actually a very touching because he was a president that can't name the table because he does need toqum british. when my father landed on d-day, there is an equal number of threads to landed and died. so he needs churchill somehow he has to grade this style of two agreed to work with him. it is an extraordinary story of how he actually achieves it. i'm not going to give it to you to try and make you read the book but i do ask playing i will call it a trick, but a maneuver of how he gets churchill not only to agree to d-day in 1944,
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that gets churchill to surrende the agreement they had up until then that it would be a good one who would command a d-day army. from that day in the summer of 1943, fdr said an american who command the d-day invasion. i'm sorry it's a long-winded answer to your question, but an interesting one. >> the trip to casablanca seemed extraordinarily risky. is that controversial at therese time? >> should the president have taken the risk of flying for the first time as a united states president. not just find a south america, but to fly across, which he did. he went to brazil. but then to fly across the whols
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atlantic. one of the delights of being a biographer rather than in historians is you are sort of entitled to put some covering into the story. and that was part and in theth library of congress and i came across this unpublished sort of memoir capped by the presidents and naval aide who was a naval captain. he said nobody wanted president to go and the president knew this, so he was very sneaky. he said john, i would like you to bring me some travel maps of morocco and possibly algeria. captain mccray said why would she need me? he said i want to see where my troops are fighting.
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but in fact he was planning his trip. when mccray realized that he was serious or when the president finally admitted it, there were many people who tried to dissuade him. he flew on one of these huge voting clippers from miami after casablanca, he flew home and ano similar plane flying to lisbon d in portugal did a poor landed and i think 29 men were killed. it was a very dangerous thing, but it illustrates anotherr aspect of the commander, the role of commander-in-chief and that is courage. he recognized that that moment that the lord, particularly
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after seeing those rabbis did he really just -- words would not be enough. he went before congress, gave his state of the union speech, but he had to actually go out to north africa and the commanders in the field of battle. not just patent, not just eisenhower, but bart clarke and the host of the core commanders there. so courage is another elementem within the commander of chief. >> we hear a lot of discussion about the invasion of italy, considering what happened, how it didn't work out very well. >> that is a question strategically.
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i think i am right in saying that the allies suffered getting on for half a million casualties ultimately initially. it doesn't mean it's necessarily killed or wounded. i taught to my quads at godfather a lot about italy because monte commanded the british army from the very title of italy all the way up. you know, monti said it was an absolute height and. has anybody been to italy in the winter? well, certainly in the mountains you know, the saddest part in
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many ways than the vote is churchill's fantasy that we could be enrolled within three or four weeks of landing, american troop landing. churchill's military judgment really was so bad in so many men died as a consequence of this. i say it's unforgivable because mistakes are made in water. it gives you an idea of how difficult this man was that the president of the united states had to make all these compromises and say to instead, we will do some fighting in southern italy. we only want possibly naples foa singapore. we don't want to go any further. and there is churchill saying i
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have german intelligence thatshh shows help is going to withdraw all its divisions back to the we alps. we won't even have to fight. we will just follow them. it is too sad to churchville really did not understand that it wasn't just hitler direct in the german armies. the germans themselves were direct in their own armies. i will never chew my dying day understand the story why germans would go on fighting to the death. not just risking, but losing their lives to fight, to hold on to any territory which they had conquered. it wasn't like the russians basically defending their
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homeland.f thou why would times of thousands of germans lose their lives to hold on in italy. italy had been their part or in the war. the germans turned on the italians have started slaughtering them, thousands of them massacred. it is a very fine biographer and historian of world war two, and kircher has heard this multivolume biography of hitleri but also very interesting book about the last year of world war ii. why did the germans go on fighting? his aides was killed right. beside him on the last day of the war.
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this was not nice warfare and that is why i so admire fdr for his searching to you live from the beginning. but it was impossible to negotiate with that kind of enemy in the evil behind it. >> to think you would take in the same actions?g >> you are projecting into volume three. >> we will reassemble in this rn very room perhaps a little bitoe later time and i have a prettymy good idea.
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>> was colored by the fact that they really needed the americas industrial military strength equipment. did he think -- tt [inaudible]fer to the >> to churchville ultimately defer to the president because without the united states, britain could not have survivedo absolutely. p to me that is part of the winston churchill that he recognized right from the verydo beginning. i'm trying to recite warfare that would bring the united states into war. obviously he relies world war ii
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could not but that the united states. the larger question is why did it take so long to accept that president roosevelt was not just the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the united states, but basically the armed forces of the united nations. there was a lot of hubris with the british arrogance that here was the empire that survived for hundreds of years rather likein the roman empire and would continue for more hundreds of years. he was going to see if fdr could be manipulated to help the british keep their empire.hehe l he was dead against india. today the world's largest
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democracy i explained in volume one of the president kept sending the gentle cables saying shouldn't she really think about in independence so that they will fight with you. when they are overburdened by the japanese in 1941 shortly after pearl harbor, over 40,000 india and elected to join the japanese. not because they like the japanese or trust them one inch, but because they were fed up with winston churchill say they would never be independence. so that mixture of arrogance. he was only five-foot six. the president of the six-foot three, but the president was in his wheelchair and somehow wind
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than this boxing above his weight. the reason he got away with so much of the is because of his brilliant mind. i think you all know i stayed with winston churchill who is a college student many years ago at the last person outside thela churchill family to have stayed with him. this man would always get the better of you. fear marshall my camera, my quads at godfather had taken me to stay there over the weekend. there was a lapse in the conversation at dinner and monte leaned over and sat in to's left ear, of course you know nigel is a socialist to the conservative
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prime minister and churchville, having roast venison. churchill has spirit one piece of venison, which is dear wife cut up for him. i was sitting at each night teen on his right. i wasn't sure if he was going to stab me or what, just held it up, looked at it and turned to me and ground like a lion. there wasn't much i could say.u >> i learned so much about churchill in such an enjoyablel way. i remember one little tip toeen
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them given the relationship between england and france, i thought it was very interesting. i was told that churchill had great admiration and napoleon. given what you just said about romanticism, particularly reckless imperialism, i thought if not almost a parallel that this would be the case. >> i think that's very true. it's 50 years ago since i was i the house and i can't remember the statue of napoleon. the story speaks tochurch churchville's to not simply has
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romanticism, but he had been a warrior. he did go to college, but a military college and asserted that there's a warrior on the northwest bank of india and afghanistan and saw warfare in the middle east, in egypt, in the trenches in world war i. he had every right to consider. he was a fearless individual. i think the nearest he came to being killed was in new york unfortunately by a taxi. but he was totally fearless. it was inevitable that he saw himself as somebody who both
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patten. after all, he'd been in the calvary. he thought the world of tank warfare. i talked to great lengths but marshall montgomery about this because winston, terrific leader couldn't have done it without him in 1940. couldn't have done it without them. you nothing about warfare.. you know, he just wasn't professional in that way. like you say, he was impetuous. in fact from his staff produced a book called action this day and that is very inspiring particularly if the british after several centuries of the
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empire were becoming somewhat overcrowded and slow and everything was by the book and written down in longhand. it's just that he had so little. military judgment. i am sounding very critical of him. like many people including therf president, i have enormoushi admiration and affection forindi him. he was a pretty lovablebrought o individual. when the two nurses brought him into dinner, to be honest at 19, once they left the room, she or he was with this incredible baby likes ken. he was patchy and he was at
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difficult man to dislike and an easy man to admire. >> one of the interesting thingr to me is a tier above commands rather lock. the birth of biographers that maybe knew the story, maybe thet didn't end even at that time and they were falling in love and why not with i find it disconcerting that we could have lost the war because of his carelessness. where were the biographers later on, until you came around but should have pointed this out. >> why have you taken 70 years for an expatriate, a port in the
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grand to somerville massachusetts and new orleans louisiana who i am happy to say documented. why has it taken decades for someone to tackle a biography as commander-in-chief. not a statesman, not as the father of a new deal, not in terms of his numismatics or is fishing. just as commander-in-chief of the armed forces as the most violent war in human history. i'm not sure i know why. i suspect that it's because military historians tend to inef
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their efforts to describe the, d whole picture, it tend to use the directors of the chief of staff of their meetings, the kind of background to the operation. there is one book 20 or 30 years ago called commander-in-chief by a man called larrabee and if you open it, it has 10 or 15 pages about the president and the rest of the book is about 15 chapters about each of the commanders in world war ii. that tells us a lot that even those writers who were trackedtk good by the idea of tackling individuals tended to go for the field commanders or even the chief of staff's and chamorro
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arnold, whether it needed a certain amount of blind courage, to dare to tackle as his role in commander-in-chief, i don't know. i have to say you realize i'm in the presence of my literary agent so i have to be careful.i we live in a world. thank god for this bookstore.we we live in a world of decreasing numbers of people reading actua. books. it is quite difficult to get awt
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commission to write a book. i don't think i was dishonest when i told my wonderful publisher that this was just one volume because quite honestly, i began without knowing this whole story. i was simply curious. i had written this book called american caesar is about the last 12 president these, which was modeled on the famous roman group biography of great, of t romantic teeters, the 12 caesars. while his writing that book with a chapter about fdr and not vote, and having to consult
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existing work, that i could not believe that no biographer had stepped forward to write such an account, such as study of fdr in that role as commander-in-chief and that was the genesis. i didn't start within a prior conviction that the president was right and churchville was wrong as far as one can be. but i do believe it is one to have really stories of american leadership in the 20th century and it has been a scandal that it hasn't been done before. and winston churchill by his brilliance as a writer should have so dominated the
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historiography of that. but that he not only won the nobel prize for literature, but that he so influenced the waync that historians see the strategy of world war ii. i think i would just add that there are some things that can'. be condensed. i would've liked to do it in one volume, but my intentions, myli ambition if you like is finally to change history and i can't do that justin condensation.
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note rights are interested in we will do one single volume when you are done. i know we are on camera, so i'm not going to use afford. but i send back my advance and the book was not published innle britain in the first volume. i was able to persuade an american publisher that this story is too important to be ignored and this year it is even more important still here is an amazing example of the qualities necessary for a president to
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take on the role of commander-in-chief of the armed forces. they are and [applause] >> i decided i mixed the six days. i was born in 1963 in a corrupt and my playground was the staging ground for the antiwar movement and i knew that a lot was going on as a young child, but i wasn't completely aware of the significance of it. by early hometown heroes were ballot have dug and i have photos of them on my wallet and i was a young feminist at age seven. but all of this really was the editor to me. when i graduated from college in 1985, it was exactly 15 years
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after the largest student strike in america, when you saw the statistics about 700 close down 2.5 million students on strike and the invasion of cambodia in 1970. 15 years later to the reagan administration. a few of us on the battle of streets against apartheid and wanted to get harvard to divest. it was very quiet. all my friends went off to work at wall street. it is different because what had happened in the 60s. i wanted to know what it was about this revolution in the late 60s that i had missed that it weakened the gem weakened the gem of stray shin
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to generation. i also thought it was a good time to go back, you are allowed to go back every decade or so and revisit what had occurred even if the six days have written about enormously. the library i had collected in the research was fast. so i did feel like it was a little cheeky of me to decide i could take on this decade as a kid who wasn't even there. it was time to revisit the decade and talk to people who are activists because many of them were in their late 60s and 70s and were ready to reflect in so much had gone on in the last 45 years that there was a lot to talk about. i wanted to talk about that time they wanted to reflect.
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