Skip to main content

tv   Post World War II New York City  CSPAN  April 24, 2016 1:30pm-2:36pm EDT

1:30 pm
hunger, they follow the garbage truck's. disrupted water supplies, broken sewer disposal systems, and inadequate shelter. these mean more exposure and more sickness. quickly -- act quickly and decisively. >> interested in american history tv? visit c-span.org/history to see our upcoming schedule. american artifacts, lectures and history, and more. david reed talks
1:31 pm
about his book, the brazen age, new york city and the american empire. a conversation with new york university history professor thomas bender. that betweenes 1945 and 1950, post world war ii new york city became a heaven for exiles. the museum of the city of new york posted this hour-long event. it is now my great pleasure to introduce our speakers. they have four bios in our program. an intellectual and cultural historian, whose many books include new york intellect, the unfinished city, and a nation among nations. atis professor of history new york university.
1:32 pm
david reid is editor of "sex, death and god and l.a." his essays, articles, reviews and interviews have appeared in vanity fair, the paris review, the new york times, the washington post, los angeles times book review and various anthologies. what you please join me in welcoming david reid to a speak about his book and and then be joined by professor bender. [applause] mr. reid: thank you, lily. it's a pleasure and honor to be here in connection with this distinguished series. this is a memorable occasion for me because it is my first powerpoint presentation. [laughter] so bear with me. i might be the only person in america who does not have experienced in this medium.
1:33 pm
i will start clicking -- got the microphone adjusted. great. this is just a very brief survey of new york pictorially. we begin with this. it's a fantastic shot of the financial district in the mid-1930's. the twa series, changing new york. here you have the classic vista. the topless tower. the alabaster walls. the fortress of money. the lonely ship going out, the steam rising above the landscape. below this there was the beginning of the 1930's a stricken layout. the landscape of the early depression. it was worse to be down and out in new york and london or paris or any other great world city. one thing it seemed to be becoming was a cleptocracy.
1:34 pm
the mobs had seized the effective control of new york. this became more and more intense in the interval between the realization that herbert hoover was effectively helpless in the face of the depression and the coming of the new deal. in numerous novelty find people such as john o'hara saying, "what will governor roosevelt do when he becomes president?" no one was quite certain. the mob ruled the street. this is one of his specialties. the demise of imminent gangster. normally these would include a fedora, the signature of a late gangster. it was sometime suspected that he actually planted the fedora. and this one he is wearing one. the gangster is out of sight in the car behind the wheel.
1:35 pm
here we skip the whole new deal era. we go straight from a stricken city of 1933 to the victorious city of 1945. the troops returning to new york and marching through washington square. we had a city that 12 years before seemed as if it were paralyzed, a city from which the german foe had written that its boxers with a quick is, it's bankers for the richest, and now a giant of the city. now new york stood at the summit of the world. it was dana patrick moynihan who said, "the most step will place in the history of mankind." what did it actually look like? at street level it had changed surprisingly little. during the great depression the gigantic cycloptian building projects of the 1920's had been
1:36 pm
effectively stalled. there were the bridges built by the new deal order for which the so-called master builder robert moses is often given credit as if you were an independent force of nature, and perhaps he was. it never really would have been built without fdr who loathed him and laguardia. here you see the celebration and the faces of a multicultural city. the italians of little italy on v-j day. living among scenes were effectively unchanged for the last half-century. lovely to be remarkably altered and transformed by the suburban age that was approaching. here is something entirely different, but these are exactly the soldiers you would've seen returning. this was still an urban nation. these counties including new york constituted a nation that won the war. there was a time -- perhaps it
1:37 pm
can be calculated now my computer. the winter of 1947 in 1948 united states went from having its largest proportion, and absolute terms the percentage of the population, it's largest population of 100,000 or over in the process of suburbanization that began at that time. here are the boys in the army. what were they doing? reading books. the need for print was so extraordinary during the war that comrades would tear out signatures of a paperback book and hand them to a buddy. books of poetry sold. books of what amounted to very
1:38 pm
softcore porn sold like "you are my beloved" with its vegetable analogies. but henry james and f. scott fitzgerald became popular in this time. publishers wondered if he could last. with the boys and their wives keep reading books? an odd thing happened. they did. what they stopped doing was going to the movies. they retired to private pursuits like reading and procreating. in this matter was born the suburban nation that would to succeed the new deal nation. here again we are talking about a city in print. here is the newsroom of the new york times. let's not forget the new york times had a rival, the herald
1:39 pm
tribune. a newspaper of the establishment. a newspaper of the wasps. a newspaper of the established rather than the striving. and a newspaper that published excellent prose. it was a saying among journalist that the weakness of the new york times was sex. that is what was said. the weakness of the herald tribune was alcohol. alcohol lead to better prose. no press lord was more powerful than henry luce, shown with some carefully attentive. newsmen hanging on his every word at the end of the second world war time life was something the most powerful media empire ever. its magazines cover the earth. it was an oracle of intellectual authority. it attempted to do the same in the department of politics. it was ubiquitous. life magazine actually -- more people were advertising in life magazine alone than on any television or radio work. those were the days to be
1:40 pm
involved with print. the future would lay elsewhere. here we have edward r. murrow representing the empire of the air. after the war radio and television ceased to just be a headline service and the consequences for those we all know. on the other hand you have the small magazines represented by artisan review which exercised an intellectual tendency out of correspondence with us very modest circulation. never more than 10,000 or so. in this picture we see representing a certain part of the intellectual and expatriate writers. he was best known as being married to mary mccarthy. an exiled writer from italy. one was subsequently married --. in the center looking slightly trotskyesque, mary mccarthy's next to the poet and in front is kevin mccarthy, the actor. we have one type of the postwar writer as culture hero.
1:41 pm
they wore plaid shirts and represent it typical jewish moral earnestness, arthur miller. and his anti-type, truman capote. he represented the author as effite. both had a long run. we had leonard bernstein, his debut was legendary and attractive the same kind of frenzy adulation as frank sinatra. here we have the art world represented in the first of the exiled artworld. salvador dali looking rather clean cut in his chalk striped suit.
1:42 pm
to the left his dealer, julian levine. here we have the ballet troupe in 1942. here we have george balanchine representing the european artworld and lawrence hart of hammerstein and heart. here we have the kind of gathering of darlings of the gods. 54th street in 1950. she continued her career but no longer able to dance. a writer. campbell, you probably recognize
1:43 pm
tennessee williams and gore vidal. here we have the irascible as they were characterized by the herald tribune. the abstract expressionist painters. you will probably recognize kuning, bosco, jackson pollock with a guarded hooded expression. here we have their dealer, betty parsons who gave us the white walls, bare floor gallery. they give me paintings, i give them walls. this was inspired by a letter by harry truman to his wife margaret truman in which he said that they had to declare the truman doctrine inaugurating the cold war that he was opposed only by crackpots like henry wallace, his vice president shown here among schoolchildren
1:44 pm
during his 1940 presidential run and woody guthrie who supported him. here are the kind of immoral artists and writers of greenwich village, as harry truman called them. are presented here by montgomery clift, jack kerouac, and unidentified man with a quizzical expression. here are the avatars of the beat generation to come, jack kerouac and neal cassidy. jack -- the two of them were present for harry truman's inauguration as president in 1949. here we return to a classic vision of new york. the risen city of the postwar. this is my mini tour of the decade and hope to learn more about it. thank you.
1:45 pm
[applause] [applause] mr. bender: thank you very much for that visual run through. that was quite wonderful. i want to begin by saying if i were asked by a publisher to describe this book, what i would have said. i would say this is a big book. if it were in print, it would be in all caps. it's a richly populated book with a wide range of new yorkers precisely captured in fine prose, many and various lengths. some beautifully captured in a single phrase. it leaves out -- a vast panorama of the arts, politics in the lives of the many writers and artists. i think it shows a couple of
1:46 pm
skills, along with many others, but i want to make a point. first, an incredible range of the energy that radiates through the book of the many people and works. he talks about so many writers. he can capture in a few words a picture, a text. so many writers that i want to asso many writers that i want to get to the index and literally count them how many this man has his capacity. unfortunately -- i don't know. i think when you pick up a book you might want to do that. the other thing is the second virtue. david reed is a writer. we academics think we are writers but we are mostly are not.
1:47 pm
my first real question is an obvious one. here is a man that was in california, who has got to books on california. he writes a lot about california and other media. why go to new york? mr. reid: i would have to say -- thank you for that extremely handsome and generous comment. i would have to say in part it's writers like yourself a set me on this path. i can remember the day -- i can even name it. may 30, 1983. i came across this book.
1:48 pm
it has been moved to the despair of the editors to san diego. they have sawn that he had fond memories of being there during the war. you can imagine the desolation from new york to san diego. it's chiefly those of geography and intellect. the idea -- the history of new the york -- an american writer -- of new york -- an american writer of any kind cannot escape new york one way or another. the publishing center is there. there is a terrifying line of john gunther for he says, "in the field of culture there is no definitive success in american life unless it is ratified by new york opinion." i do not say this is a good thing. [laughter]
1:49 pm
i just say it is the case. and then the short answer is that many years ago my agent asked if i had a book i wanted to write. and did i have a proposal? i said i didn't have a proposal but i did have a book. he said all right. write a letter, no more than two pages addressed to me. write it so that it can be read by other eyes. what is he going to be about? i said it would be interesting about the period directly after world war ii. that's when my generation came in. for another there was a great cultural glory.
1:50 pm
bebop, film noir, the beginnings of television. most of that was going on in new york. it was the undisputed cultural capital. that is how i got started. he sold the book and i was lashed to the mast. mr. bender: ok. i want to pose another question about the book. the title. "the brazen age." i thought i knew it brazen meant. i thought it was an odd choice. i went to my dictionary. the first part of the definition said "marked by flagrant and insolent audacity." and then it had an asterisk to go to a special box at the bottom of the page. synonyms, shameless.
1:51 pm
then it goes on to say, "these attitudes -- there are a couple of others -- these additudes apply to people and personal behavior that are in defiance of social and moral or priority and are marked by an old lack of shame." so, i think you just gave a different definition. [laughter] mr. reid: there is a lot of shame. i do think that audacity -- it's a strange thing. i discovered when i begin going online to see if it was getting any publicity -- [laughter] for a long time it was third or fourth or seventh title they came up. the first title they came up was "my life in the brazen age," a book written by someone in london in the late 1600s. there is nothing new under the sun. one learns all kind of things about your first book online. if he gets a certain websites you can find out i wrote this book in a hiatus in my training
1:52 pm
as a navy seal. [laughter] i don't know why that is so funny. the title actually derives from a line by gore vidal. when i wrote this note i quoted the line, the opening of the introduction in which gore vidal is writing in 1974 in the dark days of richard nixon's presidency. he says from december 7, 1941 until august 14, 1974, presumably the day he was writing, the united states is in more or less continuously at war with the exception of a brief too little celebrated interval, 1945-1950, in which we enjoyed at least not to brazen and age. she said he realizes has to be your title.
1:53 pm
i subsequently realized that if you look at the poet you find -- you got me started. the poet talks about the golden age of being transformed into bronze by violence. here you have the golden age at starts up with another war. mr. bender: thank you. i got that. as i have said there are so many characters. you got some sense of the range of them on here. we have some sense of what was on the screen. the range of things. i guess i'm like to have you say something about the most
1:54 pm
difficult group or individual you had to deal with in terms of getting it right. maybe even the one you ended up feeling more and more uncomfortable with. and then the other side of that. the one that you either it was just a sinch. so when you understood in a very positive, significant way. mr. reid: that is a fascinating question. i did in the course of writing this book continually find myself -- at this point my editor started falling in love in a bizarre and perverse way with some of my characters. some of whose direct relevance in the 1940's was not obvious to the most generous eye. it was my editor they give you the kind of order by noting the bohemian to the arts and politics, these were the spheres that it was enough to encompass. the manuscript was once about twice as long as it is now.
1:55 pm
i would say the group i became fascinated with for the early bohemians in greenwich village. floyd dell. a lot of people whose names are largely lost. there was a new york dadaist. i was both fascinated by them. i went to the library and have experienced many times. you are the first person to check out a book and 40 years
1:56 pm
and you wonder if it shows you are being scholarly or just too far off the beaten track. the thing is they were both fascinating and frustrating in equal measure because you cannot be sure you're getting them right. with one's contemporaries you have a reasonable sense of the background. at a certain point you are reaching your hand too far over the table. you wonder -- there is a terrifying line that christopher isherwood -- gore vidal wrote historical novels and he said how terrifying they must be. you just wrote "and the birds began to sing,"
1:57 pm
and you wondered where their birds in the fourth century. [laughter] the early greenwich village bohemians was the answer to both questions really. mr. bender: that is particularly interesting. talking about them, one of the things that struck me in the book was although it was allegedly a postwar period you moved back and forth. it did not start with them, although it does in some ways early on, but on page 350 there might be some return to a much earlier age. it may be for member something melville had written in "the confidence man." it went like this, describing the narrative that the reader is going to receive, "the narrative goes forward and is backward as occasion calls. nimble center, circumference elastic you must have." you had a good predecessor in this thing.
1:58 pm
i don't know. [applause] [laughter] [laughter] [laughter] [laughter] [laughter] [laughter] [laughter] [laughter] [laughter] [laughter] [laughter] [laughter] i am one of those historians that goes down through chronological line and maybe misses some things by not breaking that. it seems to me you had a purpose in the times when you did or sometimes skip forward. mr. reid: you put me in exalted company for which i am grateful. certainly in the presence of an exalted phrase. this digressiveness -- i pointed out there is a parallel to my conversation. i use one particular example. nothing starts. there is no new moment or original moment in history. i wrote a lot about the sort of homosexual underworld of the 1930's. much of it was not an underworld. during the war homosexuality
1:59 pm
came out to an unprecedented public visibility. it was literary themes. capote. no one is going to mistake the symbolic swampland of other voices, other rooms for a literal transcription of reality but you get really is coming from. there was vidal, suspected of doing in artless documentary. there is always been a gay new york. chompsky has an a classic study. you are inevitably drawn back to explain that people are doing in the future. particularly the elements of new york sociology is important to me.
2:00 pm
mr. bender: there are stories that nearly require a restart. they are not sitting quietly. when i wrote your intellect i had an epilogue which is maybe a mistake. i gave it too small of a space. wasof the things i argued the culture of the postwar perio d, the 1940's onward to the eye's, the culture of the and the ear diminish the written word. --ge 52 say it is
2:01 pm
>> do we find ourselves in disagreement? >> i think you show your insight on images already. but yours is very heavily on the literary end. >> it is a funny thing on the cultural balance. --writing this book i became it isn't necessary, but fundamentally he maintained at any given culture at any given time there is a dominant medium, or themight be the ear eye, it might be heaven or my delight. egyptians had cuneiform and clay tablets and abalone you.
2:02 pm
-- in bablyonia. the 20th century is like the progressive serialization. we can remember how heavy culture was, a little bit like in the 1960's. helping your friends was not only the books but the phonograph records. they wait a ton. -- eigh -- weighed a town. the tablets and the iphones and you have this serialization. the movies were bulky. they came in reels. this has all changed. why i call new york supremely a city of words is i think this is the last epoque were people really organized their time around teen literacy. people read newspapers around the clock. there are 15, 16, 17 dailies in new york.
2:03 pm
many them like "the forward," which was in yiddish. and new york is an alphabetical city in the simplest way. organized on enough of medical grid. and i think that the eye and ear people, the counts out -- the concept i first encountered in your book -- mr. bender: yes. mr. reid: they were appreciated, like the abstract people were appreciated in the early day, or even picasso and matisse were relatively an delete group. -- an elite group. i think the eye and ear people. many of them didn't have expertise in culture. there was not much of an interest or next for tease in painting, sculpture. mr. bender: there was a perfect article that irving howell wrote
2:04 pm
and i guess the late 1960's when a literary person stumbles into the new york city ballet and he became a fan. it is true, with the exception of greenberg, the partisan review people were on attentive entive to music or especially to visual. one of the things i liked about your book is the relative marginalization of the partisan review. [laughter] mr. bender: there are several books on partisan review. not counting the autobiographies. it was a small group of people , as youmall circulation were point out, that were positioned politically in the early cold war to come up with
2:05 pm
that kind of position. it was was viable. that is why the cia funded them. good point. is a i guess i am willing to talk about the elite inbred they were going and it does seem to me , that the it was painting, it it was leonard , bernstein, and you mentioned many others but i am not sure -- this is where america and new york were cutting edge and international. i am not sure but you have the the writers. figure oferged as a international, but not so much.
2:06 pm
mr. reid: i agree on the new york intellect. you are forl -- to the review. right up through, say, susan sonntag, and you say she came out where she was first renowned for her article in partisan review but she was telling the , news from europe. it was very old-fashioned. here are the old french movies. here are the new italian -- get with it, people. [laughter] and, you know, there were celebrated books about the port of new york about the importation of european ideas and artifacts. but i think one thing that happened of course is basically the eye people so far won. i think beginning with the 1960's, music, art, it gets much
2:07 pm
more important with daily experience than it had been before, and that is were the news was coming from. the novel was no longer bringing the news the way that paintings and happenings were bringing the news. mr. bender: ok, i am happy with that. i wanted to switch to the question of empire. empire is on the subtitle. i guess i didn't see enough empire to put it in the title. maybe there is a case for it. mr. reid: well, in the thousand pages there is more talk about empire, and, you know, i think i may have spared my editor this terrible news, but as soon as
2:08 pm
the book was officially finished, which was decided to do new york by setting modern perspective and empire and i think you're right, i like having in there and it might stir interest. it is certainly timely. it's a fitting thing. it want up being relegated to a footnote. i'm glad it is in there. you have the benefit of the end of it. >> my notes were not numbered. mr. reid: it is very funny about empire. those that were reading "the new york times," during the bush presidency and our misadventures in our wrong -- iraq, there was administration
2:09 pm
eminence that turned out to be karl rove who said you belong to the reality convention. you don't understand. we are part of the empire now. we create reality now and you report on it. this is breathtaking hubris. you would take every class in the land would have risen up to washington to say you don't know where you are going here. and then again my friends on the counterpunch and all these people, the use empire but e" to refer to it and was more -- and an list legal force. the usage here is one that i -- he said that america
2:10 pm
during world war ii under franklin roosevelt became in a president -- an unprecedented kind of empire. we were not interested in territory. it was not some silly escapade like the spanish-american war. it never fit into the brick-and-mortar comfortably. it was about having bases and fortresses in the hundreds all over the earth. it was about having a world in election thats no was not of interest to america. --ille and it donald trump that will end of donald trump becomes president. >> there was a moment of a different kind of empire that you suggested when you were talking earlier.
2:11 pm
1950.s between 1945 in there wasn't any military action. the united states was more dominant than ever before and never would be again. europe devastated, asia devastated. me that i'm less comfortable with the bases all over the place. there were troops again and again and again. but enough of that. i want to get back to this eternal city. you showed some of the wonderful bernice abbott photographs, which the negatives for those incredible photographs are in the possession of the archives here. aboutd like you to talk
2:12 pm
tother the new york of 1940 1945, the initial core, whether it has more in common with the 40 years or 50 years before this photographs by her or the 50 years or so after this photographs? mr. reid: it is really -- the photographs -- i think they are the most fascinating, they are the most fascinating of all the civic photographers. maybe this is influencing a son -- pseudo-intellectual. it is a funny combination. she is a paradigmatic new yorker and beginning with the fact she was from the midwest. it was the beginning of the rebels and the jazz age she , moved to paris, went to new -- a great photographer, and if you have any copies of james
2:13 pm
in paperback which i'm , sure you all do, but then she came back to photograph a changing new york. her whole idea was to witness the ever-metamorphosisizing, we haven't endlessly changing city. the classic images of an enormous model of, some great set of ill of finance. then there is a clothing line in front of that. then there is a menu with 1000 different specialties on the blackboard. boiled octopus is always among them. so it is a city where it is frederick jamison's classic city of modernity which is the confusion of rounds. -- realms. streamlined, but many of the european to came fleeing hitler's europe were struck by what seemed to be a primordial
2:14 pm
quality. it was a scary place. andas like a lot of ogres castles. i think that a lot to a particular moment that i think was lost in the suburbanization of new york in the 1950's and 1960's. years -- to the cultural history you are telling -- baret their relation a relation of 50 years back or the world war i, pre-world war i new york, which was new york at a special moment. nowhere we are not so much but later in the 20th century. what is a relation? are they similar? are there connections?
2:15 pm
does it go like this or like this? [laughter] >> i happen to know the historical span of this book. it is wonderful to have the library of congress. because new york history, 1898 to 1951. new york, new york civilization. new york, new york intellectual life, 20th century. greenwich village, intellectual life, 20th century. [laughter] it went back to 1898. i think in a way, 1950 ended a span that began during, around 1898. the spanish-american war. theodore roosevelt became president after mckinley's assassination. there was a mississippi -- a great civic culture out of which
2:16 pm
roosevelt emerged. theodore roosevelt obviously is a republican progressive and , then franklin roosevelt began as a cabinet member -- sub-cabinet member under woodrow wilson. i think it could just be called the longer age of roosevelt, if you wanted to embrace the man during that period. i used to always be photographed run the monuments devoted to fdr. this would take a very long time. >> one last short because we are just about done. what is the condition of the iter in the 1940's as opposed to the writer today?
2:17 pm
in alfred kazin's first autobiography he talks about supporting himself when writing his classic "on native ground." he says, i could pick up a review at "the new republic" or some other magazine, and i was able to do my work. that clearly cannot be done today. what are the consequences? >> that is a classic example of that. as was malcolm cowley, who pieces under later the phrase "and i worked at the , writer's trade." a successful novel could make a millionaire. this did happen to if you people. you could always sell out to time, inc. irving howe, who you mentioned,
2:18 pm
invented the term "new york intellectual" was offered a job doing book reviews at "time" magazine, and he thought this was selling out. so he went to philip ross, known as the chief of partisans for a -- advice. he said, better to work for one bad boss than a dozen. [laughter] what is happening today -- it was possible to cobble together that way of life as a man of letters, to use the old-fashioned expresses -- it's russians appear demised by -- epitomized by edmund wilson. today, the writer's life has been institutionalized. there was a essay in n plus one, which has succeeded the partisan as the most fearful and self-assured journal out of new york. they published "mfa versus nyc," the idea the professional mfa candidate who attends classes taught by people who write novels that not many people read but are published, you are taught to write such books yourself.
2:19 pm
it is very different from "nyc," which to them represents life. [laughter] i think there is something to that. >> all right. i think now the audience has the opportunity -- >> we have a microphone. professor bender, you could call on the person and ask them to ask a question into the microphone. if there are questions. here you go. you know, the future always seems to be so much different than it turns out. [laughter] i am a little bit curious about the time around 1930 where there was an author, a historian, james ford, who talked about the slums in new york city as being
2:20 pm
a crisis so significant that he hypothesized, it would take 130 years to eradicate them. how do you see the impact of the future changing in a way that outpaces its prognosis? what is the impact of that, both on the literary side and cultural side as we move into the cold war and beyond? >> that is a terrific question. that period fascinates me, between the helplessness of the hoover administration and the enormous energy and brio of the roosevelt administration. three times in the first half of the 20th century people imagined they were moving into a period of permanent immiseration.
2:21 pm
aside from the first world war for slip to a utopian movement briefly, but during the depression it seemed to a lot of people it was just going to keep going on. luminaries were interviewed on the dockside when they arrived on the aquitainia. john maynard keynes, the said has there ever been anything like these conditions? he said, yes. it was called the dark ages. [laughter] and it lasted 800 years. [laughter] then again, in 1945 -- of course new york blazed compared to the darkness all across eurasia. the poet stephen spender saw the ruins of berlin and the chancellery collapsing. the charred ruins from from palermo to leningrad, they seemed to be emblems of a disaster that people will come
2:22 pm
and gape at for centuries to come. so by the end of the century the bulgarian arst christo had wrapped. [laughter] the future always outstrips our prophetic power. but there was an enormous imagination of disaster, understandably so after the two wars and depression. >> a question back here? >> thank you. that was wonderful, by the way. [laughter] question. do you have anything about the harlem renaissance in your book? >> i have some. this is not easy. so many brilliant books have been written about the harlem renaissance. i do talk -- there is a line that i wish that i had put in. from john franklin a great , historian. he said -- we had a chapter saying, people talk about "the" harlem renaissance.
2:23 pm
they should talk about the continuing harlem renaissance. his answer was, "yes." there are many cultural glories in the 1930's and 1940's and , includes some of the very same people. it was very hard on the veterans of the harlem renaissance. there were ridiculous accusations and fled to florida and did not come back to new york. certainly, james baldwin could not have anticipated becoming james baldwin when he was a bus boy in the village. but as i say, in retrospect i , would like to put in more where that was one of those chapters were a thought, "oh god, if i don't get out of the 1920's, i am never going to get to the 1950's." there is some mention, particularly as it involves "the masses" and "the new masses." it is in the index. [laughter]
2:24 pm
mr. bender: any questions? certainly some wild disagreements? >> fascinating talk by the way. now you mentioned henry wallace and the progressive party, and there seems to be a coterie following him. his campaign posters were done by ben sean, but the photographer during the wpa and also the overheated and possibly telling knocker -- nelson rockefeller to go take a hike. i was just curious -- there were others in that crowd in the book
2:25 pm
, i just bought it so i have not ,ad chance to check the index but there seem to be others in the group theatre i seem to see --s whole left-wing coterie >> there was a great book by michael deming, the laboring of american culture. it is one of those things. if you arrange the figures one way you're going to get a very different picture than the war foreshadowing. i think that the late 1940's was of popt renaissance culture and his last raw was the wallace campaign. there were others in the calmness party and others over anti-communist under fdr's banner. ben shaw is certainly one of the most important artists, and leonard bernstein supported his
2:26 pm
run for president, wallace, my -- norman mailer supported wallace's run for president. [laughter] >> you find this being carried over in the culture of the 1950's. it went virtually underground. henry wallace was not examined on camera, but by the house un-american activities committee. if you are adding to your appendix of new york intellect, how would you answer the question? mr. reid: it is too far back. i can't remember entirely what i had planned to say. [laughter] i think you can have the question. [laughter] that was a long time ago, that book. mr. bender: but part of it played an interesting role, as you say, because michael donald
2:27 pm
hated, and he was in a norms , he wase of that time variable in his political ambitions but he hated henry wallace. he referred to a debate to wall-ese, and referred to it as a wintry snow that covered everything. there was one tradition that sort of stood against the popular front culture. hear some the rumbles of this in the 1960's. there was a famous feud between mary mccarthy and lillian hellman. and they were on "the dick cavett show," and basically, cavett was egging on mary
2:28 pm
mccarthy. she finally said, "everything she writes is a lie, including including 'the,' and 'of'" and this went on for a long time. so this was a battle that went back to those days. lillian hellman would accuse her of writing like john steinbeck. so the battles about the popular front, which involved views on the spanish civil war from which the last american veterans had just died, discussions and views about the new deal, views about the communist party, views about abstract expressionism these , were all mixed up with the left-wing policies of the 1940's and the corals are still going on. -- quarels are still going on. yes? >> you call it the brazen age. what would you call the 1920's? mr. bender: besides the jazz age?
2:29 pm
it is a funny thing, a lot of people in the 1930's thought that it as being free. i mentioned in passing that the us it is obvious that the 1920's was the golden age of culture. it was quite simple. it was the great age of the american novel, the greatest age of the american novel since the 19th century, it was the high age of american modernism. there are books that are still read by millions and a lot of people at the beginning of the 1930's thought, oh no, we have gone astray. intellectualse became completely disenchanted with the dominant business culture. there is a great chapter in arthur schlesinger's book where he quotes fitzgerald in saying it was characteristic of the jazz age that he cared nothing
2:30 pm
at all for politics. and that by 1933 it seems you cannot do that. fitzgerald began reading karl , and there are a lot of things that i get a golden age of culture. i do think some of the same people who were very -- hemingway also went through a very political phase. i think it did seem in retrospect that this disenchantment was expansive. >> [indiscernible] mr. bender: ah! this has to do with the presidential election. [laughter] this could turn into the latin age very quickly. are there any comments you would like to make? >> [indiscernible]
2:31 pm
mr. bender: my editor is here, my editor is here. trump right now represents a repudiation of a lot of the orthodoxy of the postwar era. obviously. to say, "well, we should cut back on nato" is to go against the consensus of the truman administration. at that time, it was largely forgotten arthur vandenberg, the republican senator that helped create that consensus. but trump represents, i think, a
2:32 pm
-- he has seized on a populist moment. this is all painfully obvious but if you ask, "how does this relate to 1950?" we had a consensus right through the 60's. things were just taken for common. on both sides of the barricades. and i don't think we can say that. right now i think we really are at a watershed that is comparable to 1912. mr. reid: with a whole cast of characters. in 1912, all three candidates were progressives. [laughter] mr. bender: what i mean is in 1912, remember there was a consolidation and in this case, perhaps watershed is an apt -- is not apt but it might be , inconsequential. >> i want to thank everyone for coming and thank david reid and thomas bender for a wonderful conversation.
2:33 pm
[applause] >> and we can certainly continue the conversation, but there is wine, so we should enjoy a glass of wine and the books that are on sale. oh! which will be signed by these two amazing authors. [captioning performed by the national captioning instute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] >> the church committee, four years later. week in american history tv, we show extended the 1975 hearings that investigated cia, fbi, irs, and intelligence committees. the church committee, 40 years later. clock p.m. anda sunday for clock p.m. eastern time, only on american history tv on c-span3.
2:34 pm
>> historian ron turner talks about the hit musical, hamilton. lexi said i was reading her book on vacation in mexico, and eyes and was reading it, hip-hop songs started writing off the page. he started telling me hamilton's life as a hip-hop narrative, and i was thinking what on earth was this guy talking about? i quickly picked up the fact that he had a world-class ignoramus about hip-hop on his hands. my first question was in hip-hop , can it be the vehicle of this very large and complex story? he says am going to educate you about hip-hop. outid on the spot, pointing hip-hop, you can pack more information into the lyrics than
2:35 pm
any other form, it's very dense. these are talking about the fact that hip-hop not only has rhymed endings but internal rhyme it. he started educating me in all of these different devices that are very, very important to the success of the show. >> tonight at eight eastern and pacific, from c-span's "q&a." scholarsconstitutional akhil reed amar and richard discuss the evolution of the democratic process and the establishment of a bipartisan system in the united states. they start with the earliest presidential elections in the late 18th century. and described changes to the process up until today. the new york historical society hosted the event, it is about an hour. so pleased to welcome akhil reed amar back to the new york historical society.

10 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on