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tv   Book Discussion on Operation Long Jump  CSPAN  January 30, 2016 3:15pm-4:16pm EST

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on website. booktv.organize. >> now we discuss the plot to assassinate roosevelt, churchill, and stalin in 1943. >> good evening, and thank you for coming. i am susan from portfolio books and. we are thrilled to have bill yenne here tonight. he is the author of more than three dozen non-fiction books as
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well as ten novels. some fans are general wesley clark and general craig mckinley president of the air force. he has written many books on military history and released a book recently called "hit the target" which is over here and that book is related to the eighth air force. tonight we are honored to have bill here to discuss his latest book with us "operation long jump." bill yenne. [applause] >> thank you. >> thanks for inviting me here tonight. thanks to all of you for coming out and sitting down to listen to my story. well, you know conspiracy
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stories are almost as fun to write about as they are to read. well, that is not true. they are more fun to write about. assassination conspiracy stories have a special resonance and people get excited and interested in that stuff. i am hear to talk about what i am maintaining is the largest assassination conspiracy in history. churchill, roosevelt, stalin, in one room, with three bullets and the course of world history had had changed. the lincoln conspiracy was a pretty big deal back in '65. but the war was over by that time and it was directed at the leadership of only one country.
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this particular conspiracy was aimed at the three allied power in world war ii, the three men and their staff, who commanded 70 million troops who were a raid against the army's of the third right. that made it an especially big conspiracy. this came at a very hard time for the allies unlike the situation in 1865 whether the world was over. this took place in 1943. it was the year of the turning point of world war ii although you would not have known that to look at the situation on the batt battlefront. the german had been defeated at stalingrab but were in control of a huge slice of the western soviet union.
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1200 mile front. they still controlled all of western europe or virtually all of western europe. the anglo-american allies had kicked them out of north africa but they had invaded italy and were expecting to make steady progress against the germans in that peninsula but by november of 1943 when this takes place they had run into a literal stone wall in the form of the goose dog line. they had been hung up in a precarious and dangerous situation. and such was the situation of the war at that time. the big three allies that were allied against the third right
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threatened the united states and soviet union. the leaders of the former two, churchill and roosevelt had met several times. they met in washington a couple times, met in quebec and casa blanca. they wanted to get together with stalin and have a big-3 summit conference having everybody together in the same room to discuss the strategy for defeatinging the third reich. -- defeating -- i had access to the diplomatic cables running between the three guys and i excerpted them into a conversation or more argument.
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roosevelt said, you know, joe, we would like to get together. why don't you and i meet in alaska. joe said no. churchill and roosevelt got together and asked stalin we will be meeting in cairo. why don't you come down and meet with us there? and joe said no. churchill got biblical and talked about setting up three tents in the desert in iraq and having each one of the big three in the tent and have their meeting there. and joe said no. joe wanted to meet in iran because it was close to the soviet union. and he wanted to meet close to
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the soviet union because there were people inside his government that he didn't trust. there was nobody in his government he did trust. he didn't want to go far from home. the other thing that is often not told about stalin and the list of fun facts about the least fun man of the 20th century is he was afraid of flying. well he didn't want to go too far. in fact the trip to tehran was his one and only airplane flight ever. they argued, stalin refused, and finally they decided meeting stalin was worth it. so november 27th, 1943 the date was set. meanwhile, inside the third reich a guy named walter
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shilimberg who ran the covert operations division of the ss got this idea that maybe we should try to make him out. one room, three bullets. so he cooked up his scheme to assassinate the big three. and he started to organize this his teams even. problem was he didn't know where or when this thing was going to take place. in fact the allies argued about it until six weeks before the conference. nobody knew where it was going to be. he certainly didn't. one day, slimberg got a phone call from an albaninan and this
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guy said i hate the british and i am for sale for the right price. so he said why should i listen to you and the man said because i got a job in the british embassy in anchor and that is where all of the diplomatic cables are coming through. he has insomnia and takes sleeping pills. and not just the kind you and i might take but some of the serious stuff like michael jackson abused. he is asleep and out and he said how much do you want? he asked for a lot of money.
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he said why not? we will take a chance and the int intel started flowing. he would creep in at night and take pictures of the documents. the intel he was sending will be spectacular. in fact, the germans even code named this guy cicero aftbecaus the intel he supplied spoke so eloquently. so the chapter i have on cicero in the book i entitled him the
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million dollar master key because he was able to supply the master key that told the germans where and when. well it was an exciting moment, not only to learn the facts but to learn it was in iran. iran between the wars, going back to world war one, i could tell stories about that. but the germans and the iranians have been very close. they were -- germany was around the leading trading partner. the germans ran the airline, they built the railroad. most of the dye was used in
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persian rugs came from germany. germany had this incredible network of agents all over iran. the german military intelligence had a network of agents, ss had a network of agents very close. in fact, in the book, you will see that the first picture in the little photo session was an autographed photo of adolf hitler enscribed to this friend the shaw. -- inscribed. >> this was such a big deal that the british and soviets at the fall of 1941, at a time when the german armies were closing in on
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moscow, the germans in african were closing in on the canal and they took time out to invade d occupy iran. and during the war and before the war they were sending agents in and out. they had a long age aircraft flying out of crimea and dropping supply and troop drops during the entire wars. extremely long planes. j2-90s if you are an aircraft buff. i know there is at least one in the room. there was this large jump of throwing agents into the iran that was the source of the name
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operation long jump. so inside tehran, you have a city that is seething with international spies. you have the germans. you've got the british. they were active throughout that region before and every since world war i. back to the 19th century, that was an important part of the influence with the suez canal in india. they had a strong presence. they had a strong presence there. you have probably heard of norman shorts and you probably
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heard of his dad who had the same name and was the head of the new jersey state patrol who was the guy who cracked the lindberg case. the guy who solved the crime of the century. they got him to hire shorts croft to run this. this was the presence of the british and the americans. they sent in the predecessor to the kbg. the same guys who made their
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reputation back in the '30s with the persians and rounding up people and sticking them into the goo lags and filling it three or four times over. they were some of the secret police and they flooded these guys into, well they flooded them in early, and when the soviets knew the big-3 conference would take place they flooded tehran. you have heard in the movies and sometimes you have the cops or the secret police rounding up the usual suspects. well they rounded up the usual suspects and the unusual suspects as well. in fact there is a famous quote about the persians in russia in
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1937 that said they basically picked up every second man and an awful lot of women and sent them off to the goo log. this is their strategy and they bought that to tehran. they brought their dragnet and they brought their jails and they brought their dudgeons. they were setting up jails and dudgeons all over tehran. but long jump was not thwarted through the efforts of any agencies. and this takes us to a small circle of young friends living in tehran, mostly ex-pats and people in their 20s, and there were a couple lebanese, and
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iranians, and an iranian-french guy, and a polish refuge girl who actually was the smartest one in the whole bunch but that is another story. how the polish refuges got to iran is another story. passing into iran and coming into the contact with these people was a young american steven ferguson. he fell for this polish girl and ferguson and the girl -- it was a boy-girl thing that brought the usual tension fast forward,
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the he went home and the war started. he was connected and knew somebody and got a job with the office of strategic services. bill donovan's association that was a predecessor to the cia. when he got his interview they asked him what he did in life. well i hitchhiked around and spent time in iran. and they said okay, you are going back to iran. he ends up back in iran and he has this little thing going on with his would be-girlfriend and i will not get into it. i don't want to spoil it. it is in the book. meanwhile, ida has befriended another polish refuge girl. somewhat younger. her name is wanda pollack and
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she works for a businessman named ernst mercer. mercer is an interesting person as well the case with international business men as the 1930s became the 1940s he was a double agent. he was recruited in the 1930s by the german military intelligence and hired on with them and started supplying them with information because he moved between europe and the middle east with business dealings. he was able to supply him with a lot of information. meanwhile, he had, as a young man he studied in england and we had the same kind of affinity for the british that cicero had
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dislike for the british. he was an anglophile. something he didn't mention in the interview. he met an english playwri write named summerset mom. he spent time in switzerland and they crossed math and mom said you might want to take a look at doing some work for mi6. he employed this younger polish girl at his house and she worked
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there and was defriended by ida cavallasca. and they would hang out and she was part of the social theme. it was a nice day. a day not unlike today. it was late september, nice fall day, beautiful fall day and decided they would go for a picnic. they went to the edge of town for a picnic and were probably drinking something or other and getting a bit relaxed.
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they noticed that -- where is wanda? wanda was gone. she said she was going to take a walk. well, how long ago was that? she certainly should be back by now. they found somebody that said they found -- they saw a girl like that but there was a russian girl pushing her into a car. so they picked up every second man and a lot of women who had worked in the soviet union in 1937. they were just picking people up at random and they went back to
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mercer and said our friend has been taken by the soviets. what are we going to do? and he said i will make a call and call people that know people. he called his contact with mi6 at the british embassy in tehran and said this thing happened what do you know? the guy said i can find out out and found out. and he said i am sorry to say your friend is in custody and remember they set-up all of these jails and dungeons in advance of the g-3 summit. she is in jail at this
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particular address. it is the nkvd and i hate to say it but you have to kiss this girl good bye. so mercer came back saying that is the situation this is all we can. and ferguson, who is a cowboy, said we cannot let this stand. he had learned his trade, spy craft trade, the way a lot of these young oss men did in those days: by watching the movies. he knew what into -- he knew what to do. we have to break her out of jail. this is the soviet's dungeon. it doesn't work.
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there was a guy that knew everybody in town and they set-up a ruse to lure the guards away, they broke in and found wanda in her cell, and they got her out. as they were taking her out -- and you can picture the movies with the scenes of taking her from the dark dungeon. and someone said if we take just her they will know we came for her and she will be in big trouble when she gets out. we have to get everybody go. so they just went around and opened cells and let everybody that the nkvd had picked up and
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thrown in this particular jail and they let them all out. and mercer is standing there watching this and all of a sudden, and he is being a german, and he hears someone mind him that is speaking german. and he turns around and he is greeted in german by the operation long jump advance man who had parachuted in the desert in tehran, gotten in the cities, and picked up in a sweep. the nkvd had no who he was. he was just a guy that spoke german. they had no idea he was the advance man for this thing they were guarding against most.
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he gets let out of jail and this is where the story really gets interesting. this is where it gets really interesting. but i don't want to spoil it. so i will take questions. thank you. >> what was the mission of [inaudible word] >> he was part of the -- how well does -- the label he enjoyed the most, in fact he used it for his eventual memoirs
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was the most dangerous man in europe. he was the most ruthless and effective of the ss special operations team leaders. whether the allies invaded italy and the king decided to end the fascist government they put mussolini under guard and locked him up in this hill top prison -- actually it was a resort-style hotel out of season. but they locked him up there. and corsini was the guy who led the special operation operation to get him out of there. it is an amazing story. i will not get into the all of the details but they use these short take off of landing airplanes. it amazing things. he got within 24 hours and within 18 hours.
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they had mussolini and berlin shaking hands with hitler. that is the kind of stuff he did. one of the people who was likely to have been involved in this. and he largely denied any involvement in it but in later conversation he admitted he was part of it and didn't actually go to tehran. that would have made a great story. maybe in the movie version we will have it. he was the guy when was probably best equipped to lead such mission. they did have some amazing people on the ground.
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they had six ss teams and another elaborate -- i don't want to spoil the story >> two of the three on the cover had military uniforms on. wouldn't the conventions of the war been against what happened? >> that is a very good question and one i got into briefly. in the book, both churchill and stalin did wear uniforms. in fact, stalin did have military rank. under the rules of war, they would have been fair game. it is like the u.s. going after admiral moto. it was a targeted killing but he was a uniform military officer.
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so under the rules of war he it was fair game. you think his boss cared? >> your description of the close ties with iran how would they have held the conference in tehran knowing the danger that was created by that? and how could the russian secret service and the german spies have coexisted in that city at the time? >> well, it was the -- prior to the conference, after the innovatii invasion it was an effective
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occupation. i got ahold of the lead agent in iran and his story about how they clamped down when the british came in they clamped down hard and fast and so did the soviets. and the iranians -- you had a lot of pro-german iranians. in fact, a lot of them were waiting for the german armies to get close enough so they could come into iran and liberate it from the soviets and the british. and you also had pro-ally iranians. but once the british and americans were there spending money and doing infrastructure
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projects, because the americans ran the railroad through iran, to take supplies into the soviet union. once they got in there a lot of public opinion shifted toward the allies. so that was the environment. and the germans largely went underground at that point. yes, ma'am? >> a couple questions. you mention was nars in on this and the second question is corcinni ended up in argentina? right? >> two questions there. two questions. the first is the admiral in
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charge of the abadir and interesting enough this was one of the few operations where they groups cooperated. there were meetings were they were present. and an interesting footnote about shellenberg and camaris used to go riding together. they would go riding in the morning and go to work and fight against each other. it was a strange deal between those two. what happened to corsini? thee was picked up by the allies. not on humanitarian war crimes
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but military war crimes because during the battle of the bulge his team operated behind american lines in american uniforms which is something that is against the rules of war. he was tried for that interestingly enough he got a lawyer who found a group of british sle operatives who had operated by german lines and german uniforms and got him to testify. he got out of those charges. he was actually in jail on other charges, serving time, and he broke out of jail in about 1947. after the war, he was in an allied prison and broke out of jail is was never recaptured. there were magazine photos of him drinking at sidewalk cafes
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in paris. he later spent time in argentina. mainly he went to spain and operated there. he had a private security consulting firm through the 1960s and was doing work were for the spanish and egyptian government and never recaptured. and eventually they just washed it away and, you know, the denoxification courts in germany who ran those types of things just cut him loose for time served. >> my mother's second husband was a surveyer for that railroad in persia. it >> it is an interesting story.
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the british hated this because it went from the persian gulf to the soviet union. the british wanted it to go east-west and not coast-to-coast from the percent persian gulf to the caspian sea. but that is the way it was built. it became an important deal with the supplies going from the emerging gulf to the soviet union. >> two questions. one is the first chapter described what the assassination would be like but you never told us did you have an idea what the assassination would have been like? you gave us a hint which was
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there was a german who was a russian defecter and russian germans showed up acting like russians. that is the first question. and the second question is it seemed like there was candy every other page in the in your book. when you wrote it did you think you were a kid in a candy store? >> it was loads of fun. i am glad you are having fun with it. to answer your first question, yes, that is another component of the reluctance in russian uniforms is another part of the plot. but i don't want to spoiler it. spoiler alert. i am not spoiling. one of the questions i have done a lot of radio shows about this book and one of the questions
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that comes up occasionally is coming from the premise of we have never heard much about this and why is that? i go back to and this is -- if you read that far into the book you read the famous quote from franklin roosevelt at his press conference just after he arrived back in washington just after this whole thing. some of his comments, and one of the comments i actually was able to carve a chapter title out of this was it would have been a pretty good haul if they could have gotten all three of us. but the most telling one is after describing german agents running all over tehran hunting
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the big three he says to the washington press core "well, there is no use going into that" and the washington press core, apparently different than the one we know of, didn't go into it. and this whole thing died. there were reasons having to deal with censorship and the people who were -- well, how should i say it. in charge of the truth on the ground in tehran which would suggest that a reporter who did try to go into it, who did try to get into the whole story back then, probably would have run into some pretty serious
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obstacles. more questions? all right. going once, going twice. thank you. wait, wait, wait. >> what was your greatest obstacle in terms of the research that you have? >> well, if you go by my house during that time you would probably notice that black suv across the street? that had nothing to do with it. no, the biggest obstacle was for so long, nobody went into this. people writing about current affairs in 1943 had pretty big fish to fry. so a failed assassination plot
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doesn't measure out to stalin grab and the normandy invasion the next year. i did have the diplomatic cables between the big three. all of the various illusions from churchill mentioning it, roosevelt mentioned it, stalin's biographers mention it. so i sort of pulled all of that stuff together. one of my great resources was the memoirs of mike riley who was there.
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they were in and out of tehran and he was on the ground during this whole operation. he knew a lot and mentioned a lot in his memoirs. ...
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>> there was also this guy, lenkowski who was the press attache at the polish embassy in tehran, he ended up teaching over at berkeley. he wrote a lot about that period, and he mentions mayer. and i'm using mayer as an example because two weeks ago i got a, i got an e-mail. i get -- people send me mails occasionally.
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there's one man in this room who sends me e-mails about my book. so i got an e-mail from this guy, randolph churchill. so i start looking it up, and, well, he really is the grandson of winston churchill. and so we're exchanging e-mails, and i'm figuring it out, and he hooks me up with the churchill society, and so i know it's really him. and also the curator at chartwell which was churchill's home, and i'm e-mailing her, and we're not quite facebook friends yet. [laughter] but anyway, and so randolph -- and we're on a first name basis because he calls me bill, so i call him randolph. [laughter] he says, bill, we have something here at chartwell, and i won't pretend to do a british accent.
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we have something here at chartwell that might interest you. it's this iron cross that was given to my grandfather x. it was taken off of a german who was captured in, who was captured in tehran around the time of the conference. and he said would you, would you like to see this? i could e-mail you a picture. and what am i going to say in. [laughter] nah, don't worry about it. no, i said, please do. so he sends me this thing, and it's been framed x there's a label on the bottom. and whose name is on it? it's franz mayer's iron cross. so this, you know, so this is -- so the challenge was, you know, digging through all this stuff.
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there was a hungarian journalist back in the '60s who, based in paris, who did a lot of study of this thing. in fact, he interviewed a lot of the members of the ss hit teams in the 'to 60s when these guys were still alive. so there was a lot of stuff there. so the challenge was finding all of this tough, and that was also, you know, one of the excite things about this. so, yes, sir. >> so i guess people will ask you what are you working on next? is it about that polish girl, how she made an arduous journey to tehran, or something else? >> yeah, i'm working on some other things. i, yeah, i've got several other things in the works. a book about the japanese
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invasion of the united states, another thing that didn't happen, but it was, there were a lot of things around that that were -- and so those were, that's one of the things. and i also do a lot of aviation history, so i've got a couple of aircraft books that i'm working on. yes, ma'am. >> i was wondering about the cables. were they declassified? made available? >> yeah, they were declassified some time ago. you know, they're buried. you've got to dig to find them, but when you find them, there's nobody guarding them. [laughter] >> where'd you find them? >> actually, a lot of that stuff was online at the department of state web site. if you know where to go and what to look for. and it's -- and then i spend time in washington, d.c., one of those people that goes into
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those desperately dark vaults of dusty things. i could tell some stories. but i don't want to spoil it. [laughter] yes, sir. >> is it inappropriate to ask you to tell us just a little bit about the russian fighter pilot? i love that story. i'm wonder oring if people here -- wonder oring if people here know that book. >> this is one of my previous books, and just this month it came out in the czech republic. they sent me a copy of it. another book to go on my shelf that i can't read by me. [laughter] the title of the book is "the white rose of stalingrad." and "the white rose of stalingrad" was a young woman in her 20s, well, young woman in her late teens. she was barely 21.
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most of her career was when she was 20. who became the highest scoring female air ace of all time. she flew with the soviet air force in world war ii. she was, obviously, she fought at stalingrad which is how she got her name. well, her name was -- the nickname is a misnomer. her name was lilia, and she was was -- lilia means lily. and so she painted a white lily on the side of her plane, and the luftwaffe, you know, these guys aren't scientists, they're not going to identify flowers. that's the last thing that a luftwaffe fighter pilot is going to do, identity a species of flowers. oh, it must be a rose. it was white, she became the
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white rose of stalingrad, and that was her nickname. she shot down at least 12 and as many as 18 luftwaffe aircraft during -- mainly during stalingrad and then the spring during the spring offensives into ukraine when the soviet armies were pushing back toward kiev. and hers was quite an amazing life. she grew up in the soviet union under stalin. what i mentioned earlier about how the nkvd was rounding up every second man, well, her father was a second man. he worked in the transportation ministry. that didn't keep him out of trouble, and he ended up as a second man.
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and never came home from the gulag. but she, she was a pilot. she wanted to fly, she wanted to fight the germans, and so she did. an amazing life, amazing story and just a few days after her 21st birthday, she's on patrol over the eastern ukraine. at the time i wrote the book, it was a very peaceful part of the world, and it sort of didn't, it sort of got not peaceful in the last year or so. in fact, the place where they shot down that malaysian airliner was only about 10 miles from where the wreckage of her plane was eventually discovered. and so she was flying there, and she never came back. the last time they saw her, she was being chased by a messer
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schmidt through the clouds, and it was like, oh, 25 years before they found the wreckage of her, what they assumed was her plane and recovered her body. so that's, that's that story. well, it's -- we've been at this for about an hour. if there's no more questions, i'll -- [applause] and i'm happy to, i'm happy to sign books, and the young man behind the register will be happy to sell 'em to you. [laughter] and i'd also like to thank, thank my friends from c-span. this is not our first time together. we worked another show down at the hiller aviation museum a couple of years ago, and so
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we're old friends. so you can relive this night on c-span. [laughter] it's optional. [laughter] >> when's it going to be on? >> that's a good question. i don't -- i don't know. but i'll put out an e-mail blast. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> interested in american history? watch american history television on c-span3 every weekend, 48 hours of people and
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events that help document the american story. visit for more information. >> no one on the right has attracted more vitriol from the left, more intense vitriol in the left than dick cheney with the possible exceptions of the man he served in the white house, george w. bush, or richard nixon. and i think there's very logical reasons for that in a sense which is here's a man who stood at or near the pip cl of power in this -- pin call of power in this country from the watergate era right up through 9/11 and iraq and beyond, and you don't stick around at those levels unless you're really good and really effective. and i think that's why the left has had such an obsession with dick cheney. and you see this even in barack obama's comments today. he called dick cheney in response to this interview and reporting of it that was widespread the worst president
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of his lifetime. now, there's a joke there, obviously, but it speaks to, a, dick cheney's extraordinary influence on our times and and, b, the central role that he occupies in the intellectual universe of barack obama. >> right. he's in -- dick cheney is in the left's head. >> and under their skin, for sure. >> true. so tell me about getting the interview, because having been the press secretary in the bush administration at the end there, dick cheney was a reluctant interviewer, okay? so how did this come about that you had got, actually, a chance to spend several hours with him, longer than even he had agreed to, and he opens up about everything. >> well, there's a back story here, as you know from our dealings way back when. i covered the bush/cheney white house for fox news in realtime. i traveled the world with dick cheney on the air force one blue and white fleet of airplanes. we went to europe together, we went to the middle east. these are situations where you're hitting ten countries in eight days, that sort of thing. and we also went to iraq,
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afghanistan and pakistan. on the last of those trips i did with him in 2005, the end of 2005 in pakistan, as is the custom, fox news -- meaning me -- was supposed to get an interview with the principal, the vice president, on the ground. dana bash of cnn got her interview. it took place on the side of a snowy mountain in pakistan. she felt that the setting wasn't right. and then steve schmidt who was running press for vice president cheney at that time, later of "game change" fame, announced they were cutting the trip short because it was believed that the vice president in his role as president of the senate needed to cast a tie-breaking vote in what was then a 50/50 senate. and schmidt and the others assured me when we get back to washington, we promise you you're going to get this interview with the vice president. you're going to do this. and, of course, as soon as the wheels of air force two touched down outside of washington, everyone not named james rosen forgot about the interview --
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[laughter] >> i wouldn't have forgotten. >> no, this did not involve you, regrettably. and the next time the vice president sat down with fox news was in february of '06 for a very dramatic sit-down with our chief anchor at the time, brit hume, for the purpose of explaining how and why the vice president had come to shoot his friend in the face on a hunting trip in texas. and i thought to myself, it's going to be a long time, old boy, before you get to sit down with this man, if ever. fast forward nine years, and i ran into the cheneys at a party in washington. and after enduring some good-natured ribbing from the vice president about my recent notoriety as the subject of an fbi investigation, i said i've got a bone to pick with you, sir. he said, what's that? i said, the pakistan interview of 2005. i'm still waiting. he remembered. i said, sir, if we were to amortize the minutes, i think today we'd be up to something like 28 hours of nixon-frost
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style interviews. he said, talk to liz, we'll do something. we sort of sketched out what an extended oral history for dick cheney might look into sunday -- sound like. no subject was off limits. he sought no control, and in the end we went close to ten hours. >> you can watch this and other programs online at >> good evening and welcome. my name is rachel, and i work with avid bookshop. we are thrilled to have you all here tonight. we like to think we're more than just a bookstore, we're a communal space, and we love having author signings and readings. and we ask that if you don't buy anything with us tonight,le


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