tv World War II Allied Spy and Debutante CSPAN January 8, 2017 11:55am-12:44pm EST
iestour. you are watching american history tv, all weekend every weekend on c-span3. now, author howard blum talks about the life of betty pack, a washington, dc debutante who worked as a spy for the british and americans during world war ii. howard blum describes her ability to seduce diplomats and government officials in order to learn secrets and provide information to her handlers. this talk is part of a multi-day conference at the world war ii museum in new orleans. it is about 45 minutes. >> our next speaker is howard blum, who brought the story you are about to hear to our local audience earlier this year while he was on his book tour. we thought so much of it and of howard that we wanted to bring him back for you all here today. one of his previous books that i'm sure you all know of is the
brigade: an epic story of vengeance, salvation, and world war ii, about a group of jewish volunteers who fought the nazis and the postwar actions of a few of them. in today's presentation, the last kiss good night, howard has found another remarkable story about a dazzling american debutante who became an allied spy during world war ii and was hailed by oss chief general "wild bill" donovan as the greatest unsung heroine of world war ii. ladies and gentlemen, howard blum. [applause] howard: for every author, there is a time when he thinks he has found a story that interests him, when he begins to realize that maybe he can wake up each
morning, go to his desk, and look forward to the prospect of spending a day making this story come alive on the page. but those moments are just preludes to the energizing moment when he decides, i love this story, this is a book i have to write. this afternoon, what i would like to tell you is how i came to write "the last good night," a true story about a glamorous american debutante who became nothing less than a spy who helped the allies win the war. my thoughts first began to crystallize and gather a sense of commitment as i was walking among the ancient stones and tall spires of cambridge university. the story of my heroine, betty pack, is a spy story, so it is appropriate that my thoughts began to come together when i
was in cambridge, because cambridge has been a home for many spies. it was the intellectual breeding ground most notoriously of a certain spy ring, a group of long-term penetration agents, or as they say in the jargon, moles, who had buried their way in the english establishment while working for the soviet union. but i had not come to cambridge to look for that ring. i had gone there to search another spy. in the beginning, when i first started thinking about another book to write, i was looking for a woman's story. i had done 13 previous nonfiction books, and there was not a central female character in any of them. perhaps this was a tacit admission that i was not up to the narrative challenge, but now
i was older and, if not wiser, a bit more battle scarred. i had two daughters in their early 20's, one ex-wife. i have paid my dues, not to mention alimony and tuition. [laughter] howard: i thought perhaps i could now handle a story about an intelligent, ambitious, and glamorous woman. as soon as i reached this decision, i was nudged by narrative -- another narrative concern. my books are true stories, filled with suspense, drama, a sense of excitement. so i naturally began to start reading about female spies, since i would be adding romance into the mix. as i read, i uncovered a bit about betty pack. there was not much there, but it was all intriguing. she had been born in minnesota, raised in washington, d.c.
lots of derring-do missions. then i read her obituary in "time" magazine. they called her a blonde bond, a woman who used the bedroom the way bond used to be beretta. -- used the beretta. it was intriguing. even after that, i had another concern. i could not just get by with an operational history of a spy. i had to tell something more. i had to be able to explain to the readers how she had made this journey from debutante to become this perfect spy, how she had lived in a world of moral ambiguity, how she had lived such a roller coaster life -- a life filled with mercurial attachments, yet she always remained loyal to the nations who served. i had to be able to do this in betty's own words.
and her own thoughts. this what is a bit of a problem since betty had been dead for over 50 years. that is why i had come to cambridge university. cambridge is a collection of many ancient colleges, but cross the river is one of the newer -- churchill college. ones churchill college is famous for its archives center. betty's papers had been bequeathed to churchill college archive center. they had been given to the college by a man named harford montgomery hyde, rather interesting individual. he had been a spy for mi6 during the war, a member of parliament, a barrister, and an author. at one stage, when he was looking to do a quick book he , had written sort of a bodice ripping account of a spy code-named cynthia, which was betty's codename. he had gathered up her papers, and after his death, he gave his letters, his documents, and all
of her papers to churchill college. i went to the archives not quite knowing what to expect. as soon as the archivist started bringing out boxes, i knew i had struck gold. there was an unpublished memoir that betty had written, her childhood diaries, letters she had written during her life, and address book she had kept that showed her travels around the world. there was even a fairytale she had written when she was 12 years old living with her parents in hawaii that was very revelatory about the woman she would grow up to be years later. i dug into all of this eagerly. -- greedily. by the time the weeks have passed and i was done going through the boxes, i reached a number of conclusions. one, i could tell betty's operational history with some sense of drama, suspense, and
accuracy. i could also tell about her amorous adventures, how she had used the bedroom as an operational battlefield to help the allies win the war. i could also create a psychological detective story. i could tell how betty had made this journey from this debutante to spy and how she was able to live with the compromises that life requires and never feel any guilt, never have any qualms. i also uncovered a surprise -- i found out about betty's final mission. when betty was in her early 50's living with her second husband in a castle in france near the spanish border, she made a decision when hyde came to visit her, to leave the life she was leading, leave her husband and
castle and go off with him. she wanted to understand the choices she had made in her life, to come to some kind of understanding where she could begin to find some respect for how she had been such a disastrous parent, disastrous daughter, disastrous wife, and yet how she had been totally loyal to the spy masters. she wanted to see if there was really some sense of honor in this. this was so important to her because she was dying. she had cancer and this cancer was metastasizing rapidly through her body and she wanted to reach some sort of peace while she still had time. i use this journey that betty took as the narrative spine of my book. i tell betty's story looking back retrospectively as she and hyde move through ireland and
review her many missions. when i finally finished up in cambridge, using betty's memoir as my guide, i began to follow in her footsteps. i stood on the battlements of the ancient castle where she had made up her mind to leave her husband and run off with hyde. i went off to the wicklow hills, ireland and the bar in dublin where she sat with hyde and look -- looked back at her life and discussed are many missions. i went to spain, madrid, valencia. but this time the civil war was , not happening. bullets were not whizzing through the air, bombers were not up in the sky, and menacing armies were not perhaps laying around each bend as betty navigated the streets and towns of france. i went to washington, d.c. to georgetown, where betty had performed many of her most
important missions. as i relived her past, as i followed in her footsteps, i was surprised. i had gone off on this mission not having too much respect for betty. as i said, she had been a complicated -- a disastrous, a terrible parent. she betrayed two husbands, she was a difficult daughter, and i had not much sympathy to her. i'm the father of three children, i could not quite understand the choices she had made. but the end of my journey following in her footsteps, i began to have respect for her. i began to have a great deal of admiration for her courage and patriotism and for the service she did for the allies during the war. what do i mean by her courage and patriotism? let me share with you a few of her missions, and then you decide what you think of betty. a good place to start any spy's
life is when they cross the rubicon between the life they had been leading and the secret world. for betty, her recruitment occurred in 1938 in prewar warsaw. as betty described warsaw in a letter, it was a cold and gray place. the city and country even more lugubrious because betty was in the midst of a very unhappy marriage. she was married to a british diplomat who was 20 years older, and he looked at least three times that. he was a staid, pinstriped, suspenders, bowler hatted englishmen. they just did not hit it off. she was a glamorous 26-year-old full of life and mischief. to make matters worse, on new year's eve at an embassy party,
her husband arthur had a severely debilitating stroke. so betty, being the dutiful wife, goes back with him to england, where he is going to recuperate. as soon as they get to the convalescent home, arthur tells her, i want you to go back to warsaw, i want the ambassador to understand that i'm coming back, too, and if you see is you are -- if he sees that you are there he will know that my , recuperation will not be long and he will not give up my post. so she goes back to warsaw. it is winter, she is by herself. the other embassy wives are not having much to do with her. they raise a censorious eyebrow over betty's antics. what can she do? she follows her wayward heart. and not for the first time, she stumbles into an affair. her affair is with a young, soulful member of the polish foreign service. as she describes it in her memoir, he plays chopin like a
maestro rivers of icy vodka , flowed, and they would cuddle in front of a fire on a tiger skin rug. one night when they were cuddled together, the young foreign service officer happened to tell her about a top-secret paper he had seen that day, how poland had reached an agreement with germany that they would stand back while germany invaded czechoslovakia. she listened and went back to cuddling him. the next morning, she picked up the telephone and called a british passport control officer. as everyone in the embassy and perhaps everyone in worse on -- in warsaw new the passport , control officer was a cover and a thin cover at best for the mi6 agent at the embassy. she called him up and said, how about a round of golf? it is a winter's day in warsaw, the greens of the country club were never very good even in the
summer. the german army is mobilizing across the border. but he hears betty's request and says, sure. at the same time, he admires her tradecraft, to be able to talk on the golf course in private and without arousing suspicion of what they're up to. so betty tells him what she had learned and he says, i will pass that to my superiors in london. a few days later, he gets back to her and says, they like it. they want this and more you can get, whatever you can get. they don't care what you have to do to get it. from that moment on, that he -- she became a spy working for , mi6. she stayed with this young polish foreign service officer for a while, but then the spymaster's in london told her it was time to move on. betty was able to move on without any regrets. she did not have romances as much as she had adventures.
her controller asked her, do you know count lubinski? she said no, and he explained that he was the chief aide to the polish foreign minister. he said, i would like you to get to know the count. betty said, ok, i will try to arrange it. she went to see the american ambassador, an old family friend of her mother and father from washington. she said, i think it's time you throw a party. he said, ok. i would like to sit next to count lubinski. he gave her a wink and said, i understand. betty goes to the party and approaches the table. as she wrote in her memoir, i would have made a play for the count if he was as ugly as satan. fortunately, he was not. [laughter] howard: so betty and the count dance cheek to cheek, the champagne flows, and by the evening end, betty is in the count's bedroom.
she manages to maintain this relationship for months. she would lie in his arms at night and as soon as he left, she would type up everything he had said and pass it on to her handler. how was she able to do this? she had no guilt. she was able to be in love with someone at the moment when she was with him, and the moment he left, she moved on. the trick, as every spy learns, is you mean it when you say it and when the moment passes, you no longer mean it. i think that is perhaps not something that spies just learn, but maybe politicians, too. [laughter] howard: but i shouldn't editorialize. it was while betty was with count lubinski that she learned about the black chamber. it was a secret army operation
that was happening in a 10th century city in an army base where the polish phifer team was looking at the enigma machine. you all know about the enigma machine. it had been developed before the war as a commercial device for encrypting messages that you do not want the competition to read. as war approached the german , army got a hold of it. it looked like a typewriter and they added wheels so that it was a very sophisticated coding machine. when you type something into enigma, it would come out at another enigma machine with a possible 150 million million million permutations, and you needed enigma machines and a two codebook to decipher it. this young polish cipher specialist working in the black
chamber had cracked the first enigma machine. when betty reported this back to the british spy masters, they quickly bought the machine and brought the polish cipher specialist to bletchley park. it helped provide, according to the british history of the war, the missing link. in an operation as complicated and sophisticated as enigma, many people get to where the --wear the laurels. there were many heroes. there was alan turing, the geniuses at bletchley park, brave british seamen who dove into icy waters to recover enigma machines from u-boats, but betty had played an important role, and we all know how important enigma was during the high points of the war. the allies were decoding 84,000 messages a month.
according to general eisenhower, enigma saved thousands of lives and reduced the war at least one or two years. and betty helped make this all possible. then there was another operation involving ciphers that betty played a key role in. this was in 1940 in washington, d.c. the u.s. was not in the war at that point. it was still officially neutral. but the british secret intelligence service had put betty in a house in georgetown, a rather cute house that is still standing today on oh street. the british rented it for her for $250 a month, it last sold for $7 million. they gave it to betty for what they called "discrete entertaining." so while she is living there working as a british agent, a
flash cable comes into the british headquarters on 5th avenue manhattan, where their intelligence service was located, and it said the , admiralty desperately needs the vichy naval ciphers. -- rather the italian naval ciphers. they did not have to explain why the italian naval ciphers were so desperately needed. it was well known that the british fleet was spread perilously thin across the eastern mediterranean and that they had been attacked en masse, it could be a debacle. betty is told by her handler that there is an admiral in washington who has control of these ciphers. can you get them? it just so happens that betty's family knew alberto before the war, and he had known betty when she was a 12-year-old girl. now betty was determined to show
him she had become a woman. so betty meets the admiral, in his 60's and portly, two grown children and wife, but betty invites them over to her house, and it is not long before he is seeing betty twice a week and spending the night at her house in georgetown. this relationship continues for a while, and betty finally get -- gets the nerve to say, i need your help. i need to get the ciphers. the admiral is enraged. he says, you're asking me to commit treason and he storms of the house. for the next week, betty is living on pins and needles. it is a very anxious time. our thugs from the italian embassy going to come to her house? has the admiral alerted the fbi and will they arrest or as a -- arrest her as a foreign agent? she considers running but she stays. and her persistence pays off. the admiral returns and says he
has worked out and honorable solution. he says, i can't give you the ciphers but i can give you the name of my cipher clerk and the rest will be up to you. even if this is not honorable, it is honorable enough for the admiral to convince himself he can still spend time with betty in her bedroom. so betty now takes up another identity. she takes journalistic cover and goes off as a reporter to look for this site for clerk. -- the cipher clerk. she says she is writing a story on the little people in the embassy, people behind the scenes who really make things happen. he is very flattered. betty invites them to her house for dinner. she can tell he is not a womanizer, but she cooks dinner and they have a nice bottle of wine. they are sitting in her living room in georgetown, and he is very impressed by how well appointed the house is. he says, i wish i could live like this but i will never be able to afford it.
betty says, perhaps there is a way you can. the british government had told her how much she could offer for the ciphers. betty offers a fraction of that amount. she knew the art of making the deal. and she gets the man to sell her the ciphers. they are photographed by the british secret intelligence service, placed back in the embassy safe. how important are these ciphers? on march 28, admiral andrew cunningham off the southern tip of greece surprises the italian fleet. the british guns open up fire, the 15 inch guns, and by dawn, three destroyers, two cruisers, one battleship, and 2400 italian seamen have lost their lives.
these ciphers, which were taken to bletchley park, working with enigma helped provide the , british with the information they needed for this attack. churchill told parliament that after this battle, the eastern mediterranean became a british betty -- a british sea, and betty had helped make this possible. there was another operation that betty was involved in an washington, d.c. involving ciphers. this was the vichy ciphers. it was in 1941, december. as you know, this was a desperate time for the allies. pearl harbor had just been bombed. the british have been kicked out of europe. the germans were marching into russia. and churchill came to the united states to meet with fdr and help figure out what the allies are
going to do next. the decision was beginning to be made for what would become known as operation torch, the allied invasion of north africa. key to making this work were the vichy ciphers. vichy, as you know -- when france was invaded in 1940, the knot sees -- nazis took control -- the nazis took control of paris, but the south and central areas of paris were allowed to exist as a quasi-independent nazi public state with its -- puppet state with its headquarters in vichy, the site of the old vichy mineral water plants. because this was a quasi-independent state, the united states allow them to have an embassy in washington, d.c. on wyoming avenue. betty's handlers told her that in this embassy on the second
floor were the ciphers that the allies needed. the embassy was guarded. there was an armed guard who had a fierce alsatian dog, and the ciphers were in a safe. they told her it would be an impossible mission and betty said, ok, i will take it. she began the mission the way she began all her operations -- by looking for a friend at the embassy. she found charles brousse, the press attache. he was a very french frenchmen, he liked food wine, and women. , he had been married three to five times, they could not quite be sure. but betty came and interviewed him. the next day he sent her a dozen roses. that afternoon, he took her to lunch and that evening, he spent the night in betty's bedroom. in the course of her
relationship with brousse, something very strange happened. for the first time in her life, she fell in love. yet even while she was in love with brousse -- and she describes it as the most powerful love of her life -- she did not think twice about betraying him. she would take everything he said, all the secrets he told her, and type them up and pass them on to the americans and british. the trail, as john le carre has written, is a very repetitious profession. finally, after she had been running the operation for a while, she confided to him that she needed to get the ciphers. he came up with the plan. he said, let's approach the night watchman, andre. we will tell him you are my girlfriend. he knows i'm married and have a wife and that you live with your parents. he knows how difficult it is to get a hotel room in washington, d.c. during the war. we will tell him we want to come
into the embassy at night because we need a place to be together. he says, what frenchmen will not want to help promote l'amour? earl and he is right. they start going to the embassy tonight night for a week or so and building their cover, and they do it with great passion. during the days, the oss -- america's precursor to the cia, as you know -- is helping betty. they have taken a man out of jail in georgia, given him a pardon, he is a safecracker. in the oss files, he is called the georgia cracker. [laughter] howard: he teaches betty how to crack a safe. the oss tech guys also prepare a sleeping powder for use when the time is right. when the time is right, brousse and betty go to the embassy one evening. brousse's carrying a bottle of champagne and they tell andre, this is our anniversary and we are going to celebrate.
we would like you to raise a glass of champagne with us. andre the guard agrees. while the champagne is being poured, petty put some sleeping in his glass and the water bowl of the dog. and it works. they both go out like a light. once they are snoring, betty makes her way up to the safe. she starts trying to turn the dial, but it is an old safe and the dial is very reluctant. it is not until close to dawn that she finally gets the safe open and sees the codebooks. there is no way she can get them photographed and replaced before the embassy staff comes in. each book is about the size of a thick new york phone book, which is about three feet by three feet. all she can do is give each one a very sweet pregnant kiss, put them back in the save, close the door, and she end brousse leave.
-- she and brousse leave. they meet with their oss handler and tell him what has happened. he says, good try. it was a difficult mission we , all knew. you can't go back again, you can't give them sleeping powder again. betty says, i can't do that but i am going back. and betty, two nights later with brousse, goes back. as soon as they get into the embassy, betty suspects that something is not quite right. perhaps the guard has a headache and wonders if he has been drugged. he is very suspicious. but they go off to brousse's and the guard goes away and they wait until they hopefully think he has fallen asleep and betty makes her way to the safe. now she is able to open the safe with some alacrity. as she is standing there, she hears footsteps coming down the hall -- bang, bang, bang.
they are walking menacingly towards the cipher room. so what does betty do? she starts taking off her clothes. brousse says, why are you doing that? betty responds, if the guard thinks we are here to be doing something naughty, we are not doing it with our clothes on. suddenly the door is pulled open, the guard flashes his light, and there is betty's standing in just her pearls. she makes a halfhearted attempt to cover herself up. the guard stairs for a moment and then backs out of the room and he leaves. betty waits and is able to get the ciphers out of their, and they are passed on to a member of the oss, photographed, and replaced before dawn. how important are these ciphers? they make their way to bletchley park, where they work with the team. in november 1942, 33,000 allied troops land on the shores of
north africa. our bombers hit installations in casablanca. all this is made possible to a large extent by the role betty had played in getting the vichy ciphers. churchill called the invasion of north africa to parliament the end of the beginning -- a step when the allies would move forward and work in a single direction to accomplish their goals. and betty helped make this possible. it was after her success with the vichy ciphers that both the british and the americans -- general "wild bill" donovan and william stephenson -- decided they would put betty into france, that she would go with brousse and together they would be a fantastic team. betty spoke very good boarding school french. she had been educated in switzerland. brousse's family knew everyone, and they were very excited by
the prospects of this team working behind the lines in france. this idea began to take shape, but people in the oss said, wait a minute. betty is an american citizen, still married to a british diplomat. the gestapo are going to be looking at her with a magnifying glass. so the oss decided they would build a cover for betty, a false identity, so that she end -- and brousse could go in to france. they could not think of what story to use. one day after she and brousse left, one of the oss guys said, that old goat is old enough to be her father. that was the idea they used. she would be brousse's daughter and he would go to france with her as a stepfather. it so happened that brousse's wife had a daughter from a second marriage that had died in infancy, so betty could assume
that identity. but the problem was they now had to convince brousse's that betty -- wife that betty was just a spy and not her husband's mistress. so betty cuts her hair, dies it an unattractive color. she starts dressing in a frumpy way. she gets hornrimmed glasses, and they are all prepared to return to france. then something happens. the german government takes over the sheet, france, and one of the first things they do is imprison the british diplomats who were there. in response, our state department interns the vichy diplomats, including brousse. what do we do with them? we send them to the hotel hershey, a rather bucolic place in hershey, pennsylvania. the french are very upset by this interment. they write a letter to the secretary of state, complaining about the wine list at the hotel hershey.
[laughter] but despite the paucity of fine vintages, betty goes there to join brousse. they are living there as father, stepdaughter, and brousse's wife. monday, brousse's wife goes into her husband's bedroom, and there is betty naked in bed with her husband. mrs. brousse goes screaming through the halls, this woman is not my daughter, she is a spy. everyone is alerted, and after that fiasco, betty's operational career comes to an end. but what a career it had been. she had been able to take her wayward character, her mercurial temperament, and channel it into a cause she believed in. in the process, she helped the allies win the war. when i went down to the syrian -- when i went down to the cia to talk about -- to talk to them
about betty they said one of the , things we tell our recruits is inspired by betty. we tell them, the last person to whom you say good night is the most dangerous. think about it. the last person to whom you say good night is the most dangerous. betty was the personification of that warning. but i think there perhaps is something spy masters could learn from betty. we live in an age of electronic intelligence, we have eyes in the sky. we are trying to crack iphones, hack into computers, but we don't really seem to put much focus on human intelligence -- the agents who can get close to the enemy. this is perhaps one of the reasons why we were caught by surprise by 9/11. why what happened in france was able to happen, and in nice , france without much warning. we need more human agents. i would suggest rather than waterboarding, perhaps we need
water-bedding. [laughter] perhaps in this day and age, we need more agents like betty pack. thank you. [applause] if you have any questions, i will try to answer them. i also want to say, the people who preceded me are such distinguished scholars. i'm flattered to be in their company. >> if you raise your hand, i will come to you. back to your right, howard. i will get this woman in just a moment. >> what happened to betty's first husband? howard: arthur pack was living in argentina, and he had a medical diagnosis that showed he
was prone to have another stroke, so he committed suicide. at that point, betty's daughter, who had been living with arthur, came to live with her in france. and that was a big mistake for both betty and the daughter. anyone else? >> on the way over to jerry, i will ask mike question that i asked when you first gave this talk. howard: ok. >> which actress portrays betty in the film, in your mind? howard: the film rights were bought by sony pictures, and the movie is being written by a man named johnny pereyra. his movie called "miss sloan" opens in two weeks, getting good reviews, starring jessica chastain. but, "good morning america" announced on air that jennifer lawrence is going to play betty. i think that would be just
super. and so do all the bursars and my -- and so do all my bursars at my children's colleges. [laughter] >> was bruce related to the new england bruces? howard: no, brousse is b-r-o-u-s-s-e. >> another question to your left. >> what was the significance of the wardman park hotel in washington to betty? howard: betty, after she left the house in georgetown, she had moved into the wardman park hotel. she told her oss handlers it would be cheaper. the reality was that brousse and his wife lived in one wing of wardman park. betty wanted to live in the other so she could be closer to him. when they took the cipher books out of the vichy embassy, the
oss had set up a room and -- in the wardman park to photograph them. later, after betty died in the bar at the wardman park, a picture of betty was hung there. it was not named, but people in -- letterd and my six mi6 new who she was and they would go there and raise a martini -- she made a very mean martini -- they would raise a martini in her honor. now the wardman park is being turned into condominiums, and i wonder if they will keep betty's picture there. >> all the way to your left, howard. >> hi. wonderful story. howard: thank you. >> i'm curious about the fairytale you mentioned that she wrote and some link it gave you into her character. -- into her character? howard: when betty was 12 years old her father was a marine , officer in hawaii. betty wrote this story, which
was a fantasy, that took place in medieval italy. it was a world where the child did not have any mother, but had a father she idolized, and how this child goes on a mission to save this father. wasbetty's entire life dominated by a fascination with older men. she married one husband, then another, each of them 20 years older than she was. she had such great loyalty to her handlers because they were distinguished older men. she was always looking for a father. and everything her mother had tried to teach her about how to be polite and sociable was negatively prescriptive to betty. betty try to do just the opposite of what her mother said. this fairytale was a 12-year-old girl coming to terms with the antipathy she had for her mother and her love, her adoration, for
her father. >> the question in the front. i will be right with you, sir. >> at the beginning, you mentioned something about a mission in her early 50's in ireland? howard: yes. >> could you elaborate on that? howard: well the mission -- the way i used it was a metaphor. it was the final thing she was trying to accomplish. she was trying to understand her life, to look back on her past, at the operational missions she had run and also the decision she had made with her children. her first child, she had given raised byth to be he was family after born. she only saw him twice in her life, the last time just before he died in korea. she was a terrible mother to her daughter. she was a terrible wife to her
two husbands, and she was trying to understand how she had acted in such a careless, reckless way to all the people who should have been close to her and yet was totally loyal to stevenson and donovan. she was trying to understand of -- understand if what she did make sense, because she was dying, and that was her final mission. she used the excuse of running off with hyde, another spy, to get to the bottom of it. >> so what was her conclusion? , howard: you have got to read the book. [laughter] howard: no. [applause] howard: betty sort of comes to came tosion that i about her life, that she had performed a service, and she had a certain character and her
, great bit of luck is that she was able to channel this wayward character into something that she could believe in, they gave her life a purpose. i mean, i think that is something we are all born with many faults, many attributes, but only the lucky among us are able to channel our talents into something larger than themselves, and that is what betty was able to do, and that is what she realized about her life. so, the journey she goes on is very fulfilling. >> all the way in the back, we have got two. great. >> can you tell a little bit about the story about carlos santorius, that she rescued from the military prison? howard: when betty was a young
girl living in washington d.c., she went to a country club outside d.c. with her parents. they were members. she saw this glamorous man playing tennis. she was just 14 years old and she stared at him, and he gave her a wink. 20 years later, she is in spain just before the spanish civil war is about to break out, and she meets him again. she is there with her husband, british diplomat. in the course of the civil war, she -- he is thrown into jail, and betty takes it upon herself -- she is not an official spy yet, just an asset working for the embassy to rescue him. and she shows such an to go from prison to prison to track him down and finally take them out of their -- that is one of the other reasons that mi6 recruited her. the story is told in a lot more
detail in drama in the book, hopefully. >> i think that is it. thank you very much, howard. howard: thank you. [applause] >> interested in american history tv? visit our west but -- visit our website at www.c-span.org. you can see our upcoming schedule or watch a program? american artifacts, lectures and history, and more at www.c-span.org/history. from april to october, petco park is home to the padres. from thes mascot comes spanish mission system. coming up, we will visit mission san diego, the very first mission in california.