tv QA CSPAN May 16, 2016 6:00am-7:01am EDT
♪ announcer: this week on "q&a," historian adam hochschild discusses his book, "spain in our hearts: americans in the spanish civil war, 1936-1939." ♪ brian: adam hoschchild, the title of your new book is "spain in our hearts." what does that title mean? adam: it comes from a quotation from albert camus, which i should know by heart by now but i don't.
he said it in 1945 after the spanish civil war ended and it goes something like this. "men of my generation have always had spain in our hearts because we learned that you could be right and still be defeated. courage is not its own reward..." and it goes on like that. american800 volunteers went there. they were among the 35,000-40,000 volunteers from over 50 countries, and of those 2800 americans who went to spain, 750 did not come back. that is a higher death toll percentagewise in the military than any of the world wars. brian: what were the years of the spanish civil war and why was it fought? adam: it began very suddenly in july 1936 and lasted until the beginning of april 1939.
so, almost three years. it was an extraordinarily bloody and brutal conflict. essentially, here is why it had begun. for many centuries spain had essentially been a monarchy. in recent times, a time of military dictatorship. in 1931, the king left the country. they held elections and it became a republic. the spanish republic. people all over the world rejoiced that a country that had experienced very little democracy at last seemed to be getting it will stop and, there were great for reform. but it was a land of the inequalities between the rich and poor. small numbers of landowners had these huge estates. millions of peasants had little to no land. in 1936, a coalition of liberal
and left-wing parties won the elections. this was absolute anathema to the powerful right-wing forces and in july 1936, a large group of right-wing army officers staged revolt against the elected government of the spanish republic and this was the beginning of the spanish civil war. brian: how many people lived in spain back in 1936? adam: roughly 23 million. i may be off by a million or two. but it was something on that order. brian: what kind of group was in leadership? adam: the elected leadership of the spanish republic were people from parties that would be considered democratic socialists, liberal democrats elsewhere in western europe who were at that time a small number of spanish communists in the
national legislature. not very many. the generals who led the right-wing revolt from whom a very tough talking general named francisco franco emerged as the leader and the dominant figure. they represented an older spain. they wanted to restore spain where the landowners and big industrialists would be dominant. there would be no democracy at all. no free press. military dictatorship. do away with elections. do away with any kind of land reform and hand education of the country back to the catholic church, because in the secularization process that had begun a few years before, they had begun to take education out of the hands of the church. the catholic church in spain was by far the most reactionary in europe.
the spanish nationalists of the army officer rebels believed co-education was the conspiracy of the devil and men and women should be segregated in education and education for women under their rule of the church was education for women was very strong on sewing and religion and not much else. there were two diametrically opposed views on what kind of country they wanted spain to be. brian: i would like to show some video of francisco franco. he won, as you pointed out. how long was he the head of spain? adam: he won the war in the
early 1939 and remained dictator of the country with close to absolute power the remainder of his life which was 36 years. he died in 1975 amid signs of senility and ruled with an iron fist. right up to the end. torture was routine until the very end. no free trade unions. no elections. no free press. brian: let's look at a little bit of what he sounded like and looked like. [video clip] >> [speaking spanish] [end video clip]
brian: what is the worst thing he did to his people? adam: you can see it in that clip. he is essentially saying everybody must be united and essentially expressed the popular rule this way, which essentially means "do what i say." the worst thing that he did was to extinguish any kind of expression of democratic feelings whether through dissent through the press or through the existence of civic organizations or any elections. for example, participation in anything that had the trappings of belonging to an international organization, even if it was something nonpolitical, a group of esperanto speakers or were in the rotary club, all of these things were forbidden.
because international non-spanish organizations were disallowed. he really did institute a kind of totalitarian rule that was not dissimilar to other forms of totalitarian rule in soviet union, nazi germany, fascist italy. it was somewhat different from the others in that the catholic church had such a huge role. it was a kind of totalitarianism. brian: if you are out watching this and you don't care about spain, what relationship does your book have to the american people? brian: if we roll back the clock to the mid-1930's, one of the things that was on the minds of a lot of good people all over the world was this ominous sense that fascism was on the rise in europe. hitler had come to power in
germany in 1933. mussolini had already been in power since the 1920's and 1935, was when he had gone and conquer himself a colony in ethiopia. a war which finally came to an end in 1936. it was clear that fascism was expanded there. hitler was making all sorts of noises about expanding to the east. grabbing territory in eastern europe and russia that should be under german domination. the soviet union was a grim place, but not as many details were known in the west. they were not talking about expanding. the menace seemed to be expanding fascism in europe. when the coup attempt happened
in spain, when all over the country right-wing army officers tried to seize power and sent a shockwave of alarm throughout the world. here was a major country in europe, the right-wing military quickly backed by hitler and mussolini who sent arms, airplanes, pilots, and mussolini eventually sent 80,000 ground troops. here was the spanish army making a grab for power. people all over the world but it ought to be resisted. if not here, where? otherwise, we are next. brian: fdr was president, what was his position? adam: he was a small d democrat as well as a large d democrat. certainly someone who was personally very opposed to fascism. he was, however, wary of being drawn into the spanish civil war in any way.
he knew that the american people at this point were deeply isolationist and any kind of opinion poll that you looked at, i mean, roosevelt was a great reader of the opinion polls. that would tell you that people did not want to get drawn into another war in europe. it is also believed, it was probably never put down on paper, it is believed that he promised the hierarchy of the american catholic church, before the 1936 campaign for reelection, that he would not intervene in spain. the catholic church all over the world heavily backed the revolt of franco and his allies. it was a matter of restoring the spain.to power in
spaniards on the other side were so anti-clerical that they have murdered thousands of priests and monks and so on. and so it is believed that roosevelt made a promise to the catholic church. in any event, throughout the war, he decided to keep america neutral, not to make any attempt to evade the fairly strict u.s. neutrality laws that were there in place and not to prosecute a major oil company that actually did evade those laws. brian: you write that two thirds of the americans that thought were jews. adam: i'm not sure i used the figure of two thirds, but people believe anywhere from a third to a half may have been jewish. it is hard to pin down because so many jews changed their name. brian: the reason i ask is why? what is the reason that they participated in much higher rate? than the percentage of jews in
america? adam: to quote one volunteer, he says for us, it was never about franco. it was always about hitler. american jews, like jews all of -- all over the world, saw hitler on the rise and this all the things he was saying about jews, it fueled recruitment of volunteers to fight in spain not just in this country, but many countries as well. american jews were also disproportionally represented in organizations of the left and that was another thing that drew them spain. brian: you have written, since this book was published, about a man named dell berg. he died this year at age 100.
here's some video. the last living member of the 2800 americans that fought in spain. [video clip] >> i was very affected by the fascist attempt to take over spain. i couldn't tell you why. i just didn't like the idea. that was my political understanding. i did not like what the s.o.b.'s were doing. i joined the army. i didn't know how to get to spain until one day i went to work in hollywood as a dishwasher, in the hollywood roosevelt hotel, and i see on the side of the building, "abraham lincoln brigade." i turned the corner, went up there and said, i want to go
to spain. brian: what was the abraham lincoln brigade? and why was it named after abraham lincoln? adam: it was, it came to be the name, it was not an official name at the time. in later years it has been used as the name to cover all of these americans who volunteered to fight in spain. at the time, the first all-american unit was called the abraham lincoln battalion and there was a george washington battalion and then the two of them merged and they became the lincoln-washington battalion. it had the name of some canadian alliots but actually it was patriots. but the veterans of all of these things began calling themselves veterans of the abraham lincoln brigade because it was simpler
and that is how people have referred to them ever since. so, when we speak of these americans who went to spain, including del berg who is the last known survivor of the group, they were the last participants. brian: when did you start your research on this book? adam: i started being interested in the subject many years ago. one of my first jobs was as a daily newspaper reporter at the "san francisco chronicle." as it happened, two other reporters of the newspaper were veterans of the abraham lincoln brigade and when things were slow, i would ask them about their experience and i got fascinated. over the next couple of decades, i met other lincoln veterans and was actually good friends with two more for many years in the san francisco bay area.
i have been fascinated by their experiences were a long time and the way, when you know somebody who has personally lived or something, it brings you closer to that piece of history and at the same time, one of my favorite writers of all-time is george orwell and i early on read his wonderful memoir of fighting in spain. his homage to catalonia which gives a somewhat different picture of this concept then you will hear from the lincoln brigade veterans. the difference is that orwell did not fight with a group of international volunteers. basically these 35,000-40,000 volunteers who were organized by the communist parties. orwell had a very independent streak. he went to spain intending to probably join and he got there
and discovered a political party in spain that he felt much closer to that was a sister party to the independent labour party in britain that he was affiliated with. so he its own militia and joined that militia and there feuding amongonal these different parts of the spanish republic. orwell has a somewhat different picture of the war but i think he, too, thought he was fighting a good cause and he wished they had won. brian: you said he was 6'3". here is a man reading part of the homage to catalonia. catalonia is where? adam: the northeast corner of spain. the big city is barcelona.
why is that relevant? adam: george orwell was fighting in catalonia and aragorn. catalonia, especially is a part of spain that, in recent years, they have a strong separatist movement. they speak in different languages. catalan. foughtwho have lived and there get very attached to it, as george orwell was. brian: you can watch when they get to the picture of some of the fighters. george orwell sticks out because of his height. [video clip] >> something overwhelming. it was the first time that i had ever been to town.
practically every building had been seized by the workers. draped with red flags. or with the flag of the red and black anarchists. every wall was draped with a hammer and sickle and the initials of the revolutionary party. every shop and cafe -- everyone called everyone else "comrades." all of this was queer and moving. there is much i do not understand. in some ways, i did not even like it. but i recognized it immediately as a state of affairs we were fighting for. [end video clip] brian: obviously the man at the back is talking about comrades and a hammer and sickle. you talk about a lot of americans who consider themselves communists at the time. what was their interest in communism? adam: first i want to talk about the revolution in barcelona. here's what i think was going on. look at the world as it was in
the 1930's. it was a grim place. here in the united states, close to the quarter of the working population was without jobs. there were 34 million americans living in households with no cash income. huge encampments of homeless and jobless people. everywhere you look, in central park in new york near wall street, every american city had these "hooterville shantytowns," as they were called. it was easy to believe that capitalism had failed. it's also easy to believe that there was an alternative system -- communism in the soviet union -- which, what did i hear much
bad news about, whatever problems the soviet union had, employment did not seem to be one of them. we always what to idealize some distant place that seems to offer a happy alternative to our own misery in one way or another. so millions of people all over the world, without knowing much about what was really happening in the soviet union, became true believing communists. something that forced that feeling was that when the war in spain broke out, none of the major western democracies would provide any help to the spanish republic. none of them would even sell arms. republican spain had the money to buy arms. the only major country willing to sell anything was joseph stalin's soviet union.
people do not realize that he was asking for some things in return, mainly top positions for spanish and soviet communists in the spanish republic's army and security apparatus. it was clearly the only major country does providing help to spain. indeed, general franco and his nationalists would have won the civil war much sooner if stalin had not done this. they would have overrun madrid and the war would have been over in a matter of weeks or months after he overran madrid. this was something that drew people to communism and made people appreciate what stalin appeared to be doing for spain. but, there was something else going on. which got almost ignored by the press at this time. it is one of the things that fiendishlywar so
fascinationg. here's what it was. george orwell referred to it when he talked about the spirit of barcelona. in catalonia and spain's northeast and other pockets of the country as well, frank is franco's nationalists were defeated in their initial attempt to take over, not by normal army soldiers. most army officers had gone over to his side. but by badly trained hastily organized militia units together by left-wing political parties and trade unions. they were the ones who beat back the coup attempt in barcelona and other cities. when that happened, these workers motions found themselves workers militias found controlling a sizable chunk of spain.
during that time, this beginning late july 1936, they put into effect in parts of the country the most far-reaching social revolution western europe had ever seen. workers took over factories, landless peasants took over these huge estates where they had worked as laborers, waiters took over restaurant, trolley car drivers took over the transportation system. you see people driving railway locomotives with their initials on the night. barcelona's hotel ritz, waiters and bus was took over the dining room entered into people's cafeteria for the poor. it was an amazing, amazing spectacle. orwell saw it and was fascinated by it. the government of the spanish republic was appalled that this was happening because they suspected, quite correctly, that if spain's republic was perceived as a revolutionary society they would never have a chance to buy arms from the united states, britain, or france.
as it happens, u.s., britain and france never sold arms anyway to them. the foreign correspondents who flocked from all over the world in huge numbers to cover the war in spain largely ignored the social revolution and wrote very few stories about it because they were all competing with each other to cover the battle for madrid. the city was under stage, the hotel where there was living was being bombed. that seemed to be the big story. but i was fascinated by the spanish revolution. i could find very little coverage of it by any of the american correspondents and then discovered that the most extensive record of what is that like as a foreigner to live through that amazing revolutionary. it was in a series of letters in
an unpublished menu script written by a-year-old american woman who lived through that time. she was my favorite find in terms of the character for this. bryan: who was she? adam: she was a student at the university of louisville kentucky. she had married an economics instructor he was a bit older than her. the two of them went to europe on their honeymoon. they visited france and germany and while there, they heard news that there had been this coup attempt in spain. but in part of this country, and that there was this revolution. they were fascinated by the idea that the revolution seemed to be bubbling up from the bottom up and not top-down in the party as had been in the soviet union.
lois said to her somewhat older, stodgier husband that "we have to go there." the two of them hitchhiked to the spanish border, and crossed over two months after the coup began and lived for 10 months in revolutionary barcelona. they got jobs quickly and she wrote the most extraordinary series of letters home during this time. brian: where did you find them? adam: the letters had been published in a small book that was printed in a small edition only in england. it had never been reviewed in a single u.s. newspaper or magazine. that is where some of what she has to say had been printed. the other stuff is in a memoir that she spent most of the remainder of her life writing and rewriting and rewriting and never found a publisher for.
there are copies of it in various archives and i got in touch with her daughter who is very helpful to me and made me copies of it. it is an extraordinary voice. here is this 19-year-old american, never out of the whoed states before, suddenly finds herself in the midst of this extraordinary social revolution in a country whose language she can't speak. there are very few americans who speak catalan. she's fascinated by it. she has a kind of sweeping enthusiasm that i think only an upper middle-class person can have for a workers revolution because it is a chance for her to sort of identify with the working class, but she gives a wonderfully vivid picture of what it was like to live in barcelona. brian: where did she go after that 10 months?
adam: at the end of that time, the conflict that i referred to before between the spanish republic and these revolutionaries came to a head. both the communists and the more mainstream parties did not want a social revolution going on while they were trying to fight this war they did not want to have all these independent militias responsible to different political parties. they wanted a unified army under central command. unsensibleot an thing to want if you were trying to win a war against hitler and mussolini.
the revolution was suppressed. there was some streetfighting. lois and her husband were arrested and let go after about 10 days and forced to leave the country. they lived in paris for a couple of months. divorced after a few years. barcelona remained the high point of her life until the rest of her days. brian: on youtube you can see a film called the spanish earth. this is just a 42 second excerpt from it. the narrator is ernest hemingway. which in itself was controversial. let's run it and then you can explain how this movie fits into the whole discussion. [video clip] [gunfire] ernest hemingway: living in the cellars are the enemy.
they are brave troops or they would not have held out after their position is hopeless. they are professional soldiers fighting against the people-in-arms. trying to impose the will of the military on the will of the people. the people hate them. without their tenacity and the constant aid of its elite and germany, the spanish revolt would have ended six weeks after they began. [end video clip] brian: who were the moors? adam: spain had a colony, spanish morocco. the northern slice along the mediterranean. a series of colonial revolt there. they recruited indigenous mercenaries from among the population. during the 1920's and earlier
and the spanish army had been much occupied. they had recruited indigenous troops, mercenaries from among the arab population of the region. and spanish they are known as moors. they were the most effective fighting force under the command of the french generals. they been fighting these wars for some years. and with the aid of transport aircraft sent by hitler they were transported from africa to spain at the beginning of the nationalist coup attempt and served really on the brunt of the attack that took place the moors were muslims.
brian: you have something in the book about how the franco provided women for these moors, the muslims. is there anything about that between what we see between a and the muslims and what we are watching. adam: unfortunately, organized encouraged mass rape has been encouraged as a part of many wars many times. sometimes we hear about it sometimes what is happened on a wide scale. nobody was recording them. when it happened on a wide scale was during the spanish civil war. and i think by by encouraging the moorish troops to do the raping, they were playing on centuries of racial fears in spain.
you know -- you are going to be raped by an arab. there was one american correspondent who recorded it these rapes, and said, they are communists but they are still spanish women. is this really a proper thing to do? it went on on a huge scale. churchdid the catholic know this was going on and did franco?tinue to support adam: absolutely. they continued to support
franco, the catholic church did. they encouraged him so much that you can see photographs of catholic bishops and archbishops and even a cardinal raising their hands in the fascist salute side-by-side with franco and his generals. brian: and they knew all of this raping was going on? adam: sure. sure. brian: ernest hemingway, what role did this movie play with him? adam: hemingway had been very involved with spain. the novel that first really brought him to the world's attention "the sun also rises," was based on a trip to spain in the 1920's. he called a great love for the country. he was in some ways were of the most apolitical of american writers. he never even voted the in the election of 1930's six, or instance. he felt a great sense of out rage at the national war in spain. as if a country he really loved was having great violence done to it. because of the spanish republic. he combined that with becoming a reporter again.
been a foreign correspondent in europe for a time in the 1920's he signed up to write a long series of pieces from spain for the north american newspaper alliance. which was a syndicate of papers. he made numerous long trips to spain during the war to write these pieces and he was fascinated by the new medium of film. a film crew put together this documentary called "the spanish earth" and originally orson welles had signed up to be the narrator. somehow he and hemingway got into a fight in the production room. brian: we will show orson welles talking about this and you can further asked my. [video clip] orson welles: we met in the
projection room of the movie theatre to see the movie which he wanted me to narrate. he had written a commentary. many years ago. we hadn't seen each other. projection dark room and i was reading the text and i said, is it really necessary when it would be better just to see the pictures? and i said things like that, and then i heard this growl in the darkness. "some damn faggot who owns an art theater trying to tell me how to do narration." so i began to camp it up. "you think because you're so big and strong and have hair on your chest..." this great figure stood up and swung at me. the picture of the spanish civil war is being projected on the screen and these two heavy figures were swinging at each other and missing most of the time. [end video clip]
brian: an interview with orson welles by michael parkinson. for us pieces together itself.e movie adam: hemingway did have this tendency to get into fights with people. after this one with orson welles he took over the narration and the films it was finally released has hemingway's voice in it. it is a documentary that has some extremely footage in it. it was shown around the united states at the time but did not reach the vast audience that hemingway had hoped would it was not enough to shock united states out of the widespread feeling that the united states should stay out of any european wars.
brian: at the same time that hemingway was in spain he was married for the second time, but he started a liaison with martha gellhorn. martha gellhorn: there was a definite enemy and we said, if we don't stop here there will be a war in europe. and we were regarded as cassandras or fellow travelers. or whenever they called it at that time. and of course, lo and behold it came about at that time. brian: who was martha? adam: martha was a young journalist and she had an affair with hemingway. just believed it begain before she went to spain with him. she returned with him on all of these trips to spain. they were the social center of the group of foreign correspondents. she wrote for the magazine "colliers," which had a big audience. she was equally passionate
partisan of the spanish republic. martha gellhorn had a connection hemingway hoped would be valuable, which was that eleanor roosevelt was a close friend of gellhorn's mother and the roosevelts -- who had this extraordinary habit of asking all sorts of interesting people to come and live with them at the white house for a time. they had actually invited martha to come live in the white house while she worked on her writing. but gellhorn found that eleanor really wanted her help to answer got correspondence she every day, thousands of letters every day. so she didn't last long but she remained friends with eleanor.
she and hemingway actually went and showed the film for the first time to the roosevelts in the white house. in mid-1937, the most exclusive audience for a film premiere that one can think of. they hoped that this would stir at least president roosevelt, outot the american people, of the stance of neutrality against the spanish civil war, but they did not succeed. brian: and we as a country had an embargo against selling arms to the people in power at the time over there and was that ever close to being broken where we would sell out? adam: well, it was broken in a very crucial way.
a series of rules having to do with neutrality the gist of which was a neutrality act that was amended. you could not sell arms to any country engaged in war or to either side of the civil war. also some things other than arms. one thing was oil. modern armies run on oil. peculiarly, something that was not regarded as military arms in any way was oil stop but of course, modern armies run on oil. 60% of the oil going to barcelona, spain in the civil war went directly to the armies for trucks, tanks, aircraft, self-propelled artillery and anything else you can think of moving.
getting soldiers to one place or another. this was not classified as armaments but the law said very strictlythat the oil could not travel on american ship hand it could not travel. all of these foreign correspondents in madrid never asked the questions about this. they would be bombed by hitler's bombers in the skies. they never looked up and asked, "who is sending the fuel to power those aircrafts?" it should have been an obvious question. they knew about the american neutrality legislation. they knew that the nationalist had no transportation to transport oil even if they could buy it legally. they also knew that spain was very short of cash so any oil sold to them what the on credit. they knew that hitler and mussolini who was supporting the spanish coup attempt were oil importers and not exporters. so it would have been difficult for them to supply franco with oil.
where was it coming from? well, it was coming from texas. it was coming in violation of american law. the head of texico, one of the major united dates oil companies at the time was basically a fascist sympathizer. he had great affection for's dictators.ish dictators not just like franco but in other parts of the world like hitler. he happily supplied franco and his nationalist with most of
their oil. he shipped them there in texico tankers and violated united dates law by doing so. ostensibly bound for the captains would open sealed orders and redirect them to ports and nationalist spain. all of this oil was supplied on credit. he supplied franco with the oil at a huge discount. on credit, violating united states law in another way. something he never told texaco shareholders about as far as we can tell. and he never told the board of directors about it. he did something else as well which has only come to light in recent years. this came through the investigation of a spanish who very generously
shared his documents with me. texaco being a multinational company. had imports all over the world, offices and tank farms and installations and agents and insurers everywhere. a huge network of public and ports everywhere. they sent out instructions to all these folks saying keep your eyes out oil shipments going to spanish republic. send us any data you have. this information was passed on to the nationalist bomber pilot for the use of submarine captains looking for targets. because the lifeline of oil going to the spanish republic profoundlyse necessary for it to fight this war. 29 oil tankers heading for the
spanish republic during the course of the war were sunk, captured, or damage. in some cases we can tie that directly to information supplied by texaco. so the united states might not have gone to war, but texaco had. brian: here is another commentator who was accused of being pro-franco. people our age will remember her philip rose, jr., was on mutual broadcasting. let's watch. [video clip] philip: general franco's spain is a very interesting character. i wouldn't want him here in america. heaven knows we want no dictators here. i do think that he has does a great job for spain. time magazine, 1955. among his journalistic admirers few have been more dedicated. the charge the criticism of franco's dictatorship came from left wingers and pinkos. >> i cannot be responsible for what time magazine may print. [end video clip] brian: that was from 1958, mike wallace.
what can you tell us about the discussion going on in this country about pro-franco or anti-franco activities. adam: there are probably a lot of people who felt as we said there that it was anti-communist dictator. that was the important thing. for anothers ok keep thelong as they communists out. many people felt that way. there was an enormously strong feeling among the right-wingers here at that time that because the military help that the net activity was getting for the soviet union was that if the republic won the war soviet influence would be greatly enhanced and might even become a soviet satellite. i don't think that would happen but it was certainly a feeling
whipped upat was very effectively. brian: many people died in the war? adam: about 200,000 in combat, at least 200,000 more were killed in political murders that happened it during the war it so. about three quarters of them were supporters of these spanish republic who were murdered by the spanish nationalists as they progressively took over parts of the country. about a quarter of them were supporters or presumed supporters of the nationalist who were killed by mobs and republican territory. it was a brutal time. especially at the beginning in the opening month of the war are people of these opposing politics just felt it was
legitimate to slaughter anybody who had the opposite point of view. brian: how many of the americans that sat there between 1936 and 1939 were killed? adam: about 754. and the majority of the remainder were wounded. brian: this for you is what book? adam: this is my eighth book. brian: one was the big seller? adam: that would publicly be book number i've, king leopold's ghost. about the belgian colonial conquest of the congo. brian: in 1999? you have several others falls top you are born in new york, graduated from harvard in 1963, you now live in tampa and cisco?
francisco? adam: berkeley. i teach a class at the graduate school of journalism at uc berkeley. brian: why did you start as one of the founders of the magazine "mother jones"? adam: mother jones was a labor heroine who helped with many strikes in that time and i'm far too manylike people on the american left at that time, she had a great sense of humor. so when a group of us were looking for someone to name a magazine after, we kicked her. i had started as a newspaper -- we picked her.
magazinerted at a "ramparts," which is published no more that existed at that time. but i had always been sort of half journalist and have them is because i am very much a child of the 1960's. when i got out of college the civil rights movement was on in the antiwar movement. my then-girlfriend, now wife, and i were briefly civil rights workers in mississippi in the summer of 1964. the year that a thousand people went down there from the north. i was very much involved in the movement against the vietnam war. so for me, i have always drawn to writing about revolution in one way or another and trying to change the world. i cannot say i have been successful in trying to change the world myself. it is easier to write about people who are doing that and actually go up there and try to change it but i continue to admire people who are trying to change the world.
brian: i don't know if you have ever seen this, but it is fun to watch for top 18 30. mother jones was 100 years old and here she is. mother jones: [indiscernible] [end video clip] brian: originally from court county in ireland. his mother jones today making money or is it supposed to make money? adam: it is a nonprofit institution the raises a lot of money from generous donors and readers, tens of thousands of them each year. i'm very pleased that it still publishes. i think it has can the durable impact stop you may remember the 2012 election the story of mitt romney saying the 47%, some people think that cost him the
election. that revelation was a mother jones story. i'm proud to be associated with the magazine still. i can't claim to it done much work there over the last 35 years but i'm still on the board of directors. brian: so what about your own politics over the years? where would you put yourself today? adam: i would say i am independent utopian. i still think we need to find ways of getting to a much better in much different world than the one we are in today. if there was in international brigade of volunteers to join today, i would say it's people who are fighting against climate
change. that to me seems the overwhelming issue facin us on this planet right now and i just heartily endorse any efforts we can do to make that far more front and center in our politics being in it is right now. brian: when you went to mississippi you were in your early 20's. obviously, demonstrating in vietnam you world are them that. what was the average age of the the abraham lincoln brigade americans fighting and spain in 1936? adam: curiously, it was a little bit older than that. about 28. there was some students, people who had dropped out of college to go. one of the people i talk about in "spain in our hearts" was a guy who was a senior who ran away to fight and was fatally wounded and was the first american casualty. joe seligman junior.
i met with his sister. still very much alive, 95 years old. a wonderful woman. but he was only 20 or 21 when he was killed. most volunteers were older. as i said, the average age was 28. many of them were people who were unemployed dockworkers, longshoremen, clothing workers, because there were strikes in those industries in new york where many of the volunteers came from. so they tended to be a little older than the early 20's activists that we were talking about. brian: we are out of time. there's a lot more in your book about a lot of americans. the stories of the people who fought in spain. the name of the book is spain in our hearts. the story about the spanish
civil war in 1936 to 1939. our guest has a thank you very -- our guest has been adam. joining us. free transcripts or to give us your comments, visit us at q&a.org. programs are also available as c-span podcasts. ♪ announcer: if you liked this interview, here are some others you might enjoy. "hitlerland."i's
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