tv Book Discussion on The Generals CSPAN December 26, 2015 8:00am-9:01am EST
>> winston groom will talk and rear about half an hour and then take questions for 15 or 20 minutes more. we encourage questions, we just need you to ask them from the microphone over here both so everyone can be involved and also for our c-span awed yes, sir. it's great to -- audience. it's great to welcome kin son bloom -- winston bloom back to washington d.c. histories including a storm in flanders, shiloh: 1862 and tonight's book, "the generals." one of winston groom's gifts is his ability to flesh out the characters of these three
influential but different leaders, giving us insights regarding how their experiences shaped their personalities and choices in the second world war. another gift is style, so please welcome winston groom. [applause] >> first, i'd like to thank everybody for coming out to hear me on this lovely saturday afternoon in washington d.c. i have been on a book tour now for a couple of weeks. i've learned something about what people want to know. one of the first questions i'm usually asked when i do a tv or radio show is why did you choose these three men from the second world war? and my answer is that they embodied, i believe, super characteristics of courage,
character and patriotism which seem to be traits that are on the wane somewhat today. but i don't think we're going to find out if that's a problem until we, god forbid, have another big war. i hope we don't. the second question i think is pertinent, people have asked is what do you think these three generals would do today in the face of the enemies that we, we're looking at. and, of course, these unfortunate events in france last night give new meaning to these questions. i think i'm going to address it right off the bat by saying, obviously, i don't know what they would do. but i think what they would do is they would assemble a reinforced, mechanized infantry division of which there are
about half a dozen in this country at the present drawing pay, and they would take them over to where these isis people are. and, now, these people in the mechanized infantry division is about 15-20,000 of the best trained, the toughest, well-armed, well-supported and meanest sons of bitches on this planet. and they would go through these isis people in about a week. as general patton said, like shit through through a goose. [laughter] however, these generals would not have the authority, of course, to do this deed. it would have to come from the administration, and i don't know what is going to happen with this administration vis-a-vis the isis people, but i can tell like anybody with a brain can
tell that they are very dangerous. right now they are either occupying or seeking to occupy several countries in the middle east with all of those countries' assets and resources including oil, banks. they will then, if they consolidate, have the ability to purchase very dangerous weapons of mass destruction. and sooner or later, their going to have to be -- they're going to have to be dealt with. so with that in mind, let's continue. these three guys, general marshall, general patton and general macarthur, were 18th century men. they were born in the 1880s. patton and macarthur graduated from west point. general marshall graduated from the virginia military institute. they served in the philippines
insurrection before the turn of the century, and after the turn of the century, along the mexican border until the first world war came along at which point very quickly they became heroes. general marshall was a terrific organizer, always was, always had been. and he became general pershing's chief of staff. general macarthur took over -- he was a colonel at that point -- took over an infantry brigade and then he became a general, he got his first star. general patton became involved in tanks which were very primitive at that point, of course, but he led an enormous tank attack during the battle of -- [inaudible] general macarthur after the
first world war became the superintendent of west point. he remained a general. he hen became army -- he then became the army's chief of staff. and later, in the 1930s, he resigned from the army to become a kind of field martial of the philippine army at the behest of of the president. he thought that they could defend the philippines. well, he ran out of time. general marshall continued with his terrific organizing skills. he didn't have to stay in the army. he was offered a job by the banking firm of jpmorgan, vice president where he would have made millions of dollars, but he was a soldier. that's what he was trained to do, and that's what he did.
so he turned them down. neither was general patton, necessary for him to stay in the army, because he was the richest man in the army. he would go to military bases as a young lieutenant or captain with a string of to lo ponies -- polo ponies and a yacht. his fellow officers didn't begrudge him that because he was the best polo player mt. army, and he was the best yachtsman in the army. and he actually in 1912 participated in the olick picks in -- olympics in stockholm, sweden, in an event called the pentathalon which came from the old greek olympics where you have -- it's a martial event. you have about half a dozen different things that you do. in the old greek version, they actually kill one another.
but in the new version, they set it up to be as though you were a military courier, and you had to ride, and you had to shoot, and you had to sword fight, and you had to swim, and you had to shoot a pistol. patton at that point was a captain, and he was very good at all these things because he was the best horseman in the army, and he had been a track star at west point, and he was one of the best shots in the army, and he was the best swordsman in the army. he was called the master of the sword, the only master of the sword they had. he designed the new cavalry saber. but also he had learned to swim around catalina be island because -- catalina island because his family owned it. [laughter] in any case, he came in eighth out of a field of about 45 and made lifelong friends of his
competitors. each of these men had to live up to something in their family, their fathers usually. general macarthur's father had won the congressional medal of honor during the civil war and became, ultimately, the commanding general of the army. but in macarthur's youth, he was still a young captain and posted on these farflung military ports out in the west where they were still fighting the indians. and macarthur remembers as a child seeing flaming arrows coming across the walls of these forts. he said himself, he said i learned to ride and shoot before i learned to read is and write. -- to read and write. and marshall's father, general marshall, they were from
pennsylvania. and his tad was a very -- his dad was a very successful bidsman until his business failed. and there's no way of really telling, but it's my suspicion that george marshall was such a great organizer because he was trying to live up to not failing as his father had done. he was superb at organizing. general patton's father was a successful lawyer, but he just by a matter of his age, he'd missed all the wars that we fought. general patton's grandfather had been a confederate general who was killed in one of the last battles of of the war. patton had grown up with stories about him, about his grandfather. he always had wanted -- he wanted to be a soldier almost from the day he was born for some reason.
and he was always nervous that he wouldn'tly up to the bravery -- he wouldn't live up to the bravery of his ancestors. he was always tempting death to find out and prove himself. i mean, one day on the battlefield in france in world d war i general patton and general macarthur found themselves talking to each other right in the middle of the fight when all of the men were crouched down in foxholes and stuff, and there was a rolling barrage coming toward them which they could see. and they continued the conversation as patton later wrote to his wife, he said because neither one of us wanted to be the first one to say we better get down. [laughter] and so they let the rolling barrage roll right over them, and they miraculously weren't hurt, but that was the kind of stuff that these guys were made of.
macarthur, in fact, was said to be perfectly oblivious to danger, and in his later campaign in new guinea and the philippines, he would horrify his staff by simply walking through the battlefield standing up, looking around, trying to figure out what was going on. he was mortified to have to leave the philippines, which he did at the beginning of the war when the japanese attacked pearl harbor and then they attacked simultaneously philippines. and macarthur had, of course, not only the filipino army, but at that point he had a good sized american army there, and it became apparent there was nothing to be done for them, they were isolated. so president roosevelt ordered general macarthur to leave the philippines, well, he left by pt boat in the dead of night and was taken later to australia where he became the commander in chief of the southwest pacific
area. and he made a vow through the press. he said "i shall return," which quickly became -- because this was the dark days of the war -- it became the iconic slogan of all the americans. they heard this, and this was something that they wanted to do. "i shall return" became, it was on, written on coffee cup ands the bottoms of ashtrays and cigarette lighters it was engraved on, it was written on walls, it was written over latrines, "i shall return." [laughter] and return, he did. it took him three years, but he had developed a strategy. some people call it island hopping, but what he really did was he would -- see, the japanese had had years to occupy numerous islands, and there are numerous islands in that part of the pacific. but rather than take every one of hem, he would simply -- one of them, he would simply concern
what did he call it? let me see here. bypass it, i guess, is the best word i can think of. and he'd leave these japanese to wither on the vine in his rear. and it saved a heck of a lot of men, because the japanese were very ferocious fighters. when he finally landed back in the philippines in 1944 on the eye hand of lei -- ley text, and he almost lost that night. admiral halsey was was decoyed a couple of hundred miles up. today took a bunch of their carriers, the japanese, that didn't have any planes on them and sent them up as a sacrificial land because they wanted halsey out of the way.
and general macarthur had been on the beaches for about three days with all of his transports, all of his air materials, his ammunition and transport ships out in the harbor there. and suddenly the entire japanese surface fleet appeared. they had come through the straits of san bernardino where admiral halsey was supposed to have been to watch and make sure they didn't get through. but they came true, and fortunately -- and i'm writing about this in my next book, it's going to be called "the admirals." [laughter] as you might suspect. but that morning there was a small task force of what they call escort aircraft carriers, maybe half or even less the size of the big aircraft are carriers and with virtually no armaments. they had one 5-inch gun. and they were escorted by three u.s. destroyers and three
destroyer escorts which are basically like a yacht or something. and this huge japanese force which con sid of five -- consisted of five battleships, two of them were these enormous super battleships with 18-inch guns, bigger than any battleship in the world and better armored. they suddenly appeared over the ooze b at dawn to -- hidessen at dawn to -- horizon at dawn command. something reported to ziggy that they could see these huge masts on thhorizon about 20 miles away. they had binoculars or big telescopes. and he said, well, that's got to be admiral halsey. a plane went up there to look at it, they launched a plane, and this guy said, well, no, it's
not admiral halsey, it's jalapeno -- japanese. he said, take another look, and the plane said, sir, they're shooting at me, i know it's the japanese. they've got a big red sun on the flag. [laughter] well, everybody went into a grand panic, and admiral halsey, they begged him to come back. he was at that point engaging these aircraft carriers. he was sinking one after another, and he was very reluctant to do so. but to make a long story short, which i will, this little group of six destroyers and destroyer escorts and aircraft, escort carriers held off the whole japanese surface fleet. it's like a high school team beating the dallas cowboys. it cost us over a thousand sailors' lives because they sank most of the destroys ultimately,
but they distracted them enough, and they launched torpedo cans on them, and the aircraft from these little escort carriers. they weren't prepared for this. they said launch them anyway, because if they sank, they'd lose the planes. so they would go strafe these enormous battleships with machine gun bullets which is rather absurd. then when they ran out of machine gun bullets on dummy runs. if you had a torpedo plane and a japanese warship sees you coming, he's going to start evasive tactics, and it slowed them down enough where finally after about three hours of in the japanese commander orders his ships to go back north to sort of reorganize. that was the original plan x. when he finally got all his ships together, he discovered that about 13 of them had been sunk. and so he went back through the
san bernardino straits, and general macarthur proceeded on his mission. but if that fleet had gotten into the gulf, they would have sunk all of macarthur's supplies and equipment, and they would have murdered everybody on that beachhead, because these big naval guns could shoot 25 and 30 miles, and they had bullets the size of a full grown hog. anyway, in the meantime, back to the story. general patton, while general macarthur was winning, beginning to win his battles in new begin and the island campaign -- new guinea and the island campaign, general patton took command of the invasion of north africa where he landed in morocco. and the enemy there was not the germans or the italians at that point, it was the i i vichy fre.
and the question was were they going to fight. well, they did fight. they started smoothing and -- shoots and so shooting and so forth on the shore. he sent a message to the french message, patton sent this message to the french, if you don't surrender this city by 5:00 this afternoon, i'm going to have it destroyed. they could look out there and see all these big warships, cruise ors, battleships, they could have leveled that city in about half an hour x so they surrendered. and patton was successful and, of course, got himself in all the newsreels and so on. he then conquered sicily before going on to england. there he commanded a dummy army that was designed to fool the
germans, didn't have any real troops, had a lot of radio traffic. and this was because of the infamous slapping incident where general patton had lost control of himself. he found a soldier in a hospital ward who was there for some kind of combat fatigue i think they called it then, and general patton did not believe in combat fatigue. so he jerked the soldier up and began to browbeat him. this was reported by the hospital doctors, and eisenhower found out about it. eisenhower initially didn't do anything about it, he put a letter in the file. but then the press got hold of it and it was rampant across the u.s. that general patton had been slapping his shouldiers. it's also a very rude thing to do. anyway, general eisenhower's thinking about firing general patton, but here is where general marshall comes in.
of these three men, two -- general patton, general macarthur -- had enormous egos. general marshall had practically no ego at all. he could have, if he wanted to, appointed himself to take command of the european invasion which was probably the most dreamed-of job by any military commander. general marshall had not ever had the opportunity to command troops in battle which he wanted very much to do. but president roosevelt asked him to stay in washington because he felt he was a calming influence, so to speak, on the usual tensions between the army, the navy and the air force. he said, yes, sir, i'll stay here, and he i appointed general
eisenhower. at the same time, general marshall realized he had two very temperamental people on his hands. general macarthur felt he wasn't getting the right kind of support and supplies is and, in fact, he wasn't because roosevelt and winston churchill had come to an agreement. they sent most of the stuff over to the allies, british, russians and so on. general macarthur was getting the short end of the tick down in new guinea -- of the stick down in new guinea, and he didn't like it. he began talking to the press about it. he looked at all this, and he kept eisenhower from fighter patton, he kept macarthur
right in his place because he realized that both these men were indispensable to the winning of that war and the shortening of that -- the war would have been won anyway, i suspect, but they shortened the war which saved a heck of a lot of lives. every day they put into the meat grinder probably a thousand, two thousand then. in any case, ah, patton. he, everybody knows, probably you've seen the movies, and you know what happens in the story. but in france they finally unleashed general patton away from his dummy army and gave him a real army, the third army, and he was like a racehorse that's been in a pen too long. they had already landed the invasion army, but they were stuck in normandy, and patton
saw a way to break out of normandy and get into the open where he can run his tanks, which he did. and he first came to the seine where he liberated paris, and then he came to the rhine. they stopped him at the rhine because they ran out of supplies, the reason being we were giving supplies such as gasoline and ammunition to the british. they were trying to catch up, and eisenhower was trying to play the politician and not let patton get too far ahead of general montgomery, the british general. so general patton counteracted this by what he called his rock soup strategy. and rock soup strategy was this. he would, well, let me explain the rock soup strategy first. in the depression the poor people, the hobos would go to somebody's back door, this was the story was myway, and they would knock on the door, and they would have a cup of water
with a rock in it, maybe two or three rocks in it. the guy would say to lady, you know, ma'am, i'm trying to make some rock soup. i wonder if you maybe have the top of an onion or some old celery or something i could put in here. and she would feel really schori for him -- sorry for him having to eat rocks, so she'd give him a carrot. he'd go back and say, i hate to ask you this, but do you have an old potato eye, peel beings i could put in -- peelings i could put in my rock soup? it would sure be nice to have a piece of meat, just a piece of fat, she'd give him that, is and then he'd have some soup to eat. that was patton's analogy. what he'd do when he got stopped by general bradley, they'd tell
him, oh, you're going too far. first thing he'd do was get right up on the german lines and pick a fight. and that fight would get bigger because patton knew if his people were in a fight, they weren't going to deny him anything. so every time they said, general patton, you're going too far, too fast, it was rock soup every time. after the war was over, general patton was assigned to command the occupation of bavaria which is, i think, the largest state in germany. and general eisenhower had ordered that they weren't to employ nazis in any kind of important positions. general patton disobeyed this order. he did it, he said, because he was extremely worried about the welfare of the bavarian people because they had a big winter
going on, there was a very big shortage, especially firewood, food, things like that, and these nazis who knew how to get things done, and patton didn't think some of the nazis were so bad. he said some of them had to be nazi, if you owned a store, if you weren't a nazi, you couldn't own a store. but some unfriendly press corps members ferreted this out, and they had a very unpleasant press conference which they got patton to anytime this. andizeen -- to admit this. eisin lawyer, it finally gave him the excuse he wanted. what he did was he regave him command of another army, the 12th army, which was essentially a paper army. but he was going home anyway, patton was. unfortunately, a few days before
he was returning home, he was going pheasant hunting. he was in one of the big cadillac cars, the driver crossed over a railroad track, and this was a line of trucks coming the other way. one of them veered over to the lane and hit the left-hand side of that car. nobody was hurt in the car but general patton who was somehow propelled upward and forward, and he struck his head on a steel object that was holding the glass partition between the driver and the people in the back, and it paralyzed him. and it paralyzed him to such an extent that he was doomed. but the army immediately sent its top surgeon. he was getting ready to have his christmas dinner in the united states, the next day he was seeing general patton. general patton was perfectly clear in his head.
he suspected what was going to be his fate, but they gave him a ration of scotch every day. he liked johnnie walker. his wife was flown over at the same time. the surgeon looked at the x-rays, and then he went and examined general patton, and general patton said, well, what do you think's going to happen to me? he said, well, i don't know. you survived a long time with this kind of injury. he said will i ever be able to ride a horse again? and the surgeon said, no, sir. and he said thank you for that. and within a week, i think, he ultimately sank and passed away. there are some -- recently, all these rumors about he was assassinated. that's nonsense. he died in an accident, and he's buried in a big army cemetery in luxembourg. general marshall, i think, his
career after the war indicates that being an army officer, a very poor army officer doesn't necessarily prepare you for civilian work. now, it all started owl well enough. that was -- all well enough. that was the marshall plan. marshall saw the countries were unable to function, there was no trade, there was a very big danger that the communists were going to move in and take over. so he talked to the administration -- at that point it was the truman administration -- and to congress because he was such a towering figure that he made it unpolitical. so he went to the congress and asked for an unlimited amount of money to pull these countries through their tribulations, their financial worries. and this was granted, and it was done, and it was one of the finest things that this country has ever done. we didn't have to do it, because this was done on the backs of the u.s. taxpayers. but after that general marshall's career, it seemed to
me, was not as sterling as it might have been. he became secretary of state. and he was too trusting of the russians. the russian communists and the chinese communists. because he had been working with the russians. the soviet union, all during the second world war. we were allies, of course. and we cooperated with each other. but he didn't realize that once the war was over and the soviet union was safe, that they weren't going to cooperate with us anywhere. if you -- us anymore. it's like putting a coe cobra and a mongoose in the same cage and expecting a different result. they simply began to encroach more and more many europe. he spent a year, general marshall did, in china trying to sort out the differences between ma see sung and -- mao tse-tung and chiang kai-shek. and he kaled pleatly -- he failed completely because he
again tried to get them to work together, and they weren't going to do it. he came home and said plain as day, i failed. so they made him secretary of state and secretary of defense. but he was quite a gentleman, one of the nicest people. i didn't meet him, but i read enough about him. he was a fine man. general macarthur who will be the last person we'll deal with here. he, of course, for the five years after the war revitalized japan as occupation commander and turned it into an industrial, friendly, civilized nation. and for the first time, they became a democracy.
during election it was determined that a prostitute had been selected. the japanese were very chagrined by this. they went to macarthur, his reaction was, well, how many votes did she get? they told him it was 250,000, and he said, well, she must be doing something right. but all good things come to an end, and the korean war adopted in 1950. the north koreans, korea was divided at that time, and the north koreans attacked the south koreans, and we pledged to defend the south koreans. macarthur took what army he had up there which wasn't very much, but he managed to thousand back the commune -- to throw back the communists and then get himself embroiled in an argument with president truman over how far back he should throw the
communists, whether he should stop somewhere. president truman wanted to negotiate, and general macarthur was not a really good negotiator. he was going to win the war. macmacarthur, almost a suicidal thing, he went to the press and very publicly said -- without clearing it with anybody -- to the chinese people that if they don't surrender to him within one week, he's going to destroy them. and this made president truman very angry because he was trying to put the people down to the table. in any case, he fired general macarthur. but the sentiment at home was all for macarthur. he was brought back to enormous receptions, i think in san francisco half a million people, ticker tape parade in new york city, and he addressed both
houses of congress with such a stirring, emotional speech. service the old soldiers never die speech, they just fade away. it prompted the speaker of the house to say afterward that there was not a dry eye on the democrat side, nor dry seat on the republican side. [laughter] general macarthur lived long into his 80s. he lived at the waldorf-astoria in new york. he loved going to plays and movies. he was always a big movie fan. but in the year before his death -- no, two years before his death, i'm sorry, he was asked to make a speech to the cadets at the united states military academy at west point. he agreed to do it, and it's worth repeating verbatim here.
he told them that war was an abomination. if it was up to him, he would abolish war. but then he quoted plato who had written only the dead have seen the end of war. and then he said the shadows are lengthening for me, the twilight is here. i listen vainly but with a thirsty ear for the witching melody of bugles blowing or faraway drums beating. in my dreams i hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange and mournful mutter of the battlefield. but in the evening of my memories, always i come back to west point, always the air echoes and reec -- reechoes in my ear duty, honor, country. today marks my final roll call with you, but i want you to know that when i cross the river, my
last conscious thoughts will be of the corps and the corp.s and the corps. and two years later he was gone. he was the last one. and that's my speech, and i appreciate it. [applause] thank you. >> we have time for 15 minutes of questions. make your way to the microphone. if you'd line up right there. thank you. make your way. >> [inaudible] or omar bradley. did you find patton and macarthur, people like that to be more -- >> that's a good question. great question, i've been asked it before. the last book i wrote was called "the aviators," and it was about
three guys who were the tower of aviation in the 20th century. eddie rickenbacker, jimmy doolittle who conducted the famous air raid and who else it was? i forget. anyway -- oh, lindbergh. charles lindbergh. [laughter] i found three people, if you write about more than three people, it's hard on the reader and the writer. and for some reason, you know, already a lot of books that have been out in the last few years two people like roosevelt and churchill or something like that. i upped the ante on three. so i had to select the three. obviously, i wanted somebody in the pacific theater, and, obviously, that was general macarthur. i looked at europe, i wanted a fighting general. that would be general patton. eisenhower is all over the book because he was -- they were great friends before the war. they were, lived next door to
each other on several army posts and played poker together and drank whiskey together. but i just thought that general eisenhower was too far away from the action, and general patton also is by far the most colorful character. and i wanted somebody in between. that would be general marshall because be he was trying very hard to keep pote of those guys -- both of those guys from imploding before the war was over. and i wanted somebody who was back at that level of demand, at the high staff command. because i think it gives the reader a better idea what was gown on in the big picture. so that's it. >> my question was i know that in sort of recent years patton has been sort of reevaluated. i know that there are many people who think that perhaps while he's a very popular general, he may not have been as good of a general as previously has been suggested. so in your view, how did he rate
amongst his peers in the american army? buzz he, you know, the -- was he, you know, the best tank general we had or was that, perhaps -- in i get it. yeah. i mean, i think he was. you know, he had some very fine tank generals under him. but, you know, in the army hierarchy, they don't just grab a guy here, one-star, put him in command, give him four stars. that's not the way the army functions. probably ought to funk that way, but -- to function, that way, but it doesn't. he was completely charismatic with his troops x. even when this slapping incident became known, they loved general -- general eisenhower had ordered him, when the slapping incident came out, to apologize to the people he slapped, to the doctors in the hospital personally. and also personally to every division in his army. you know, regiment or brigade at
a time. and he did that. it was humiliating for him, but he did it. and he went to several brigades, and these guys, he started to apologize, and they said, no general, no. to be in the third army under general patton was quite an honor for pote -- for most of these people. i'm sure there was somebody that didn't like it, but i think the people all liked him. his peers liked him, most of them did. they all seemed to get along. >> two questions, if i could. paris, you know, like father, like son you had macarthur's father being -- [inaudible] could you explain the influence that would have had on the general. second with regard to marshall in the '50s, joe mccarthy started going after him, and president eisenhower was accused of not defending him
sufficiently. >> that's true. well, let me see, we've got general macarthur and his father. yeah, i mean, i think that mcarthur -- macarthur felt like he had to try to live up to his father. his father at one point was the commander of the philippines, and he took his young lieutenant son fresh out of west point x from the philippines he took him on an entire tour of the far east including japan where they met the emperor. and so he worshiped his father. and he, ultimately, as well as his father, he won the medal of honor. it was given to him really because president roosevelt was afraid when he ordered him off of the philippines that he would be accused by some people of deserting his troops. and so giving a man a medal of honor was meant to blunt that. let's see, what was the second part of the question was about -- >> second question had to do with marshall --
>> oh, marshall and joe mccarthy. yeah. senator mccarthy, well, it wasn't just senate mccarthy. the people were sort of, of this country were very disturbed at what was going on in china especially. and the question then became who lost china. well, marshall was over there. he was supposed to save china, but he didn't. he wasn't able to. i don't know that anybody would have been able to. we might have instead of trying to get the communists and the other people to negotiate, given arms to chiang kai-shek and supported him militarily. but we were many no -- in no position after world war ii. we were war weary. and so that decision was made at the highest levels. and marshall concurred with it. mccarthy was a witch hunter,
as most people know. i don't know him personally, i read a lot about him. and he decided to go after general mar hall with a -- marshall with a lengthy, it was almost a book-like speech. it was about 70 pages, i think, that he made on the senate floor. accusing general marshall of everything under the sun including probably, you know, baby stealing or something, i don't know. it was just the most wild b accusation kind of thing, ultimately unprovable. but i do think that in the end he had something of a point that general marshall failed to appreciate the nature of the enemy he was dealing with. i don't think that he really believed, although he was told, that russians, the soviet communists were very much sporting mao tse-tung -- supporting mao tse-tung, and general marshall didn't believe that. he was told that by two or three generals you should -- generals
under him. yeah, it was a failure. we fail all the time. i don't know, does that go anywhere? thank you. >> [inaudible] talking about his new book, the battle of the bulge. he was very critical of -- [inaudible] patton drove his troops too hard, that many of them suffered from exhaustion, and casualties were higher than they should have been. i wondered if you could comment on that. >> well, i don't know. i haven't, i have not seen any information on that. i have read a great deal about it in both primary and secondary sources. general patton -- of course he drove his troops. it was an emergency up there. you had a whole division surrounded by several german divisions who threatened to annihilate them, and general patton was prepared to move there with his tanks k and it was certainly freezing cold. that's always hard.
but he trained the drops, and he expected them to be able to do it, and they did it. they relieved the siege. >> he promised to do it in 48 hours, and -- [inaudible] thought he should have taken a little more time. >> that's probably true. who knows how long it would have taken for the germans to finish them off. and what they were facing right there was the weather was so bad, we couldn't get our air power in there. had we been able to do that, if we'd been able to get air power in there, we could have -- that would not have been such an emergency. but the germans had chosen a time period in which their weather people had forecast it was going to be overcast for, like, a week and a half. it turned out now at i think the day either of or the day after general patton arrived on the scene with an army, the skies cleared, and we could, you know, airplanes can bring a lot of hell on tanks.
and so we did that. but, you know, everybody's entitled to his opinion, and i think beaver's a terrific writer. but, you know, again, it's kind of second guessing. although he may have supporting things, intelligence obviously said we were doing it too much. i don't know about that part of it, but i just know that we didn't lose an american infantry division. thank you. >> thank you. >> so in your research, i'd like to ask about what you thought about the relationship between macarthur and marshall. >> i'm sorry between -- >> the relationship between general macarthur and general marshall. my research, you know, when macarthur left the, you know, his air force on the ground with nine hours' advance notice at parallel harbor, marshall -- pearl harbor, marshall actually had a telephone conversation with him about that. we don't know what was said.
there's no evidence that marshall held anything against macarthur. >> i don't think so. >> famously deferential at the korean war with macarthur, and i just wondered what you thought about the relationships. >> well, i think the relationship considering macarthur's temperament was pretty doggone good. i know that after the philippine air force was destroyed, happen arnold -- hap arnold had a conversation with the macarthur's airman that was very unpleasant. but marshall was -- he was a guy of such even temperament, which is why he rose to be the chief of the staff -- actually, he was the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. but he went to visit mac arkansas hur maybe twice. macarthur maybe twice. once in new guinea and once at one of these islands, and they
got along fine. macarthur, though, would then as soon as he left proceed to go get his press corps which, actually, he thought worked for him and say all these unkind things about those guys in washington meaning general marshall. and, of course, that would get back to him pretty quickly. marshall let it bounce off. he was trying to win the war. >> did you ever run into anything where marshall really made some statement where he felt, he expressed anger or contempt with -- in -- >> no. did you say with patton? >> macarthur. whether macarthur ever expressed anger or contempt -- marshall. >> i'll tell you what he told his chief biographer, and i've got the transcript, all the tapes that general marshall made, oh, gosh, i don't know how many within years before he died. and i distinctly remember a line
in there where he said to the transcriber who was, i think, a sergeant who was his aide, he had never made a public comment against general macarthur. i expect he knew what he'd said. so what he thought privately, he went to the grave with sparks as far as i know. -- as far as be i know. i don't remember seeing anything, reading anything where he had said anything because he didn't want to rile macarthur. he was trying to keep the peace. that was his job. thank you. how are we doing? >> i think we're done. thank you so much. >> thank you all for coming. great audience. [applause] >> thank you to winston groom. the book is for sale up front. the line will be right here on my left if you'd like to get your book signed, and you can just leave your chair where it is. thank you for coming. [inaudible conversations]
>> you're watching booktv, nonfiction authors and books every weekend on c-span2. television for serious readers. >> thomas mallon is the author of nine novels including the latest, "finale: a novel of the reagan years." mr. mallon, why a book on reagan in fiction form? >> well, it's debatable, what historical fiction can accomplish. i think mostly it's supposed to do what other novels do which is entertain and make people think of it. but i think there's a little bit that historical fiction can do that actual history and actual biography can't. as hong as a reader knows -- as
long as a reader knows it's fiction, the writer can gain a certain intimacy that is not always available to the nonfiction writer. you know, if you're writing a biography of ronald reagan and you're, say, dealing with him at the reykjavik summit which is a big part of this book, the biographer will responsibly have to say, well, at this moment it is not unreasonable to suppose that reagan may have thought, dot, dot, dot. if you're a novelist, you just go ahead and have him think it. so there's a certain intimacy and drama to it that allows readers to speculate about history in a somewhat different way. >> when does your story take place during the reagan administration? >> almost all of it takes place in 1986 which was arguably the roughest year of the reagan presidency. it's only two years after his landslide win over walter mondale, his re-election, but two years later things seem to
be falling apart. the iran contra scandal's beginning, the reykjavik summit is at the time perceived as sort of a by whereas coe even in the -- fiasco even though in the fullness of time, it begins to look pretty good. the democrats retake the senate, and a whole host of new social ills like aids, crack, homelessness, they're now on the scene, and the reagan administration doesn't seem well equipped to deal with them. and so it's really quite a perilous time for ronald reagan. there's talk of impeach inspect the air -- impeachment in the air, and the white house needs a radical shake-up. the president's chief of staff, don regan, is the mortal enemy of first lady, nancy reagan, who's trying to have him fired. so it was quite a dramatic time. and i thought if i was going to write about the whole panorama of characters surrounding reagan, that might be the year to pick. >> would a reader recognize your reagan? >> i think so.
except one of the things they'll recognize about reagan that sounds funny is his absence. in that he was very remote in many ways. for all of his warmth and geniality, he's defeated a lot of biographers. i think he opens up more possibilities for historical fiction than a lot of political figures do. i think they'll recognize him on the surface, but a lot of people have spent decades scratching their heads wondering what was really going on inside this very genial man. even nancy reagan, to whom he was extraordinarily close, i mean, their marriage was famously close and intimate, she had mentioned in her memoirs that there were whole portions of ronald reagan that she could never really access, could never really penetrate. so he seemed to me to present a lot of opportunities for around novelist. >> edmund be morris are,
reagan's -- edmund morris, reagan's authorized biographer, ended up writing dutch. >> he resorted to writing a fictional character. i'm surprised at a certain point he didn't throw up his hands and go to his editor and say i can't do it, i'm going to write a normal. i'm sort of glad he didn't, because he left the field clear. dutch is a maddening book in some ways because it doesn't fit into any really known form. but it has many brilliant passages in it. morris has some tremendous insights into reagan. but you can sense also the frustration and the bafflement of not being able to get the kind of clear fix on his personality that a biographer often hopes and expects to get on their subject. >> without betraying your personal politics, did you
develop an affinity for your protagonist? >> i never felt intimate with him in the way i did with richard nixon who was a protagonist. i won't say hero, but the protagonist of my previous novel. nixon and reagan were in frequent communication during reagan's presidency. i don't know what it says about me, but i felt comfortable writing nixon from the inside-out, making him a point of view character, expressing his thoughts, his feelings. in book i see reagan -- in this book i see reagan from the outside. i see him through other people rather than going into his head, into himself. only in a brief end dog when the president is -- epilogue when the president is very advanced in years and, frankly, is ill, do i make an attempt to see things from the inside out. but i do have a good deal of admiration for reagan. i think he accomplished enormous
things this in foreign policy. i have less admiration for what he did domestically. but he's a big figure, ands this is not a reverential book by any means. i don't think you want a novel that's reverent towards anything or anybody. but it's not a book that tries to cut him down to size either. he was a big figure whether you liked reagan's presidency or not. it was a consequential presidency, transform ty in -- transformative in many ways and that, too, was an attraction of the subject, just the magnitude of it. >> thomas mallon's newest novel is "finale" published by pantheon. thank you so much. >> this holiday weekend booktv brings you two days of nonfiction books and authors. saturday evening at seven, a panel discussion on national review founder william f. buckley jr.'s run for new york city mayor in 1965.
and at 11 p.m., winston groom discusses his latest book, "the generals: patton, macarthur, marshall and the winning of world world war ii." >> one of the first questions i'm usually asked is why did you choose these three men from the second world war, and my answer is that they embodied, i believe, super characteristics of courage, character and patriot im. ..