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tv   Robert Harris Munich  CSPAN  April 6, 2018 4:42am-5:39am EDT

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washington university in washington d.c. this is just under an hour.
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[inaudible conversations] >> well, good afternoon and welcome to the national churchill library and center. my name is michael bishop and i'm a director of the library, an executive director of the international churchill society. and the philanthropic partnership between the university and the society, and since our opening in october, 2016, we've welcomed many students and visitors and shared with the masses the primary documents, books and exhibits about winston churchill, which i hope you'll take the time to enjoy today.
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to learn more about churchill and the work of the society, please visit our website, www.winstonchurchill.org. just today we held the first meeting of an undergraduate research seminar on churchill taught by professor kennedy of the department here with us today. here we welcomed leaders such as general david petraeus. former pakistani president pervez musharaff and actor gary oldman who collected a green actors guild award last night for his role as churchill and tim snyder discussing not only the particulars of churchill's life and career, but also their present day challenges. today, i have the honor to welcome robert harris, one of the world's foremost thriller
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writings and who brought to life, ancient rome, london in world war ii and 1960's berlin haunted by an aging hitler who won the second world war. boo. [laughter] >> in his latest work he takes us to 10 downing street, the prime minister neville chamberlin, haunted by the devastation of the first world war attempts to avoid a second. his efforts lead to the munich conference of 1938 which is vividly portrayed and laced with suspense and intrigue. robert's many best selling novels include the cicero trilogy. fatherland, enigma, officer and spy and conclave. several of his books have been filmed "the ghost", directed by roman polanski. his work has been translated into 37 laping wajs and a fellow of the royal owe site of
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literature. ladies and gentlemen, please welcome robert harris. [applause] . we're experiencing a remarkable moment with television shows and the upcoming churchill biography sparking a new interest in him, but your focus in this novel is on neville chamberlin and your take is a little more sympathetic than we're accustomed to seeing. can you tell us what motivated to write about him and the munich conference. >> thank you to at that kind introduction, michael. it's typically perverse that i should be flagging a book about neville chamberlin dominating popular culture. it's because i suppose i wanted to write the book 30 years ago, i did a documentary for bbc television to mark the 50th
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anniversary of the munich agreement. talked to alex douglas hugh who then became the prime minister who accompanied chamberlain on the plane in the hitler department. and chamberlain's daughter and it was fascinating and realized a lot of what i had grown up thinking i knew about neville chamberlin and munich was wrong or at least another way of aprotesting it and even then, although i hadn't written a novel, i thought it would be interesting to write from the point of view of chim chamberlain's plane and who might be facing a crisis in his marriage similar to the national crisis, his wife having an affair, would he make a stand? and i toyed with that idea for many years and never really expanded into a novel and then
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a couple of years ago, i read a diary kept by the german historian and journalist, who wrote about hitler and who was the ghost writer to albert speer. he write the memoirs inside the third reich. and in 1969 asked spear about munich and spear said, hitler was in a foul mood for two weeks after munich and he took it outten 0 his private staff, which was unusual for him and finally at a social event in berlin, it all came pouring out and he said, the german have been duped and by chamberlain of all people. and suddenly i realized this is a different way to write the novel if i had someone who was accompanying hitler as well as someone accompanying
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chamberlain and if the two young men had been friends at oxford in about 1930, which is possible and then they meet in munich when they're two chief and i did, it's taken me 30 years, but i've always wanteded to do it and now i have. >> host: so, and then you can maybe answer this the context of munich, your latest novel, but the craft of historical fiction is a difficult and a challenging one because if you take too many liberties, then people are misled and it really doesn't qualify strictly speaking as historical fiction, but of course, suspense and excitement require some litterry license. how do you in your own writing, perhaps in this book in particular, how do you balance those two competing concerns? >> well, it was pretty easy in this book because i would think that within three or four days, the book covers in that week in
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1938 three or four of of most of the dramatic in history and to go inside it and to be in downing street, the house of commons, to be on adolf hitler' train as he traveled south from berlin and then the meeting took place and finally, hitler's own amount. for a thriller writer, you can't get more dramatic characters and with the future of the western civilization at stake. and really, i felt in the novel a lot of my function was simply to convey to the reader the sheer, pulsating drama of those two days when it didn't look like the world would go to war and at the last moment, it was avoided. so, i took it almost hour by hour what chamberlain and
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hitler were doing to take the reader inside to closed doors. so, of course, these two young men, hugh leggette, one of the junior private secretaries and paul hoffman worked for the german foreign ministry, they're made up and their friendship and their coming together in 1938, that's entirely imagery but the other part of it, of course, that's real. >> host: your portrait of chamberlain is an intimate one and obviously, based on a great deal of research. do you consider him somewhat fairly maligned figure? did you seek in some way to rehabilitate him? >> well, i really just wanted to tell the truth, really. as you say, there's a difficulty with historical fiction, is that the reader comes to it with hind sight. we know the appalling crimes he
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was going to go on and commit. and it seems laughable or even wicked that someone should have thought in 1938 to sit down and sign any kind of agreement with him, but the story, mate lynn, the beginning of the book, it's important to remember this what now lies in the past, once lay in the future and western leader to chamberlain, and things couldn't have seemed much worse than the keiser and probably not much worse than stalin either, in those days killed a great many more people. chamb chamberlin was not the weak, gullible, elderly, almost senile figure that had come down to us. he's a dominant prime minister, dominant in government and reminds me in many ways of margaret thatcher, dominated
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with sheer mastery of the detail. he totally ran the government. and he decided in the summer of 1938 that if there was going to be a war and the british had no agreement to protect czechoslovakia, but the french did and the french would go to war to protect czechoslovakia and it would be just like the first world war with three quarters of a million british dead, three quarters of a million from a relatively slow country. he thought there would be what he would call a spiritual breakdown if people didn't see their prime minister, their leaders doing everything possible to try and avoid another war. and so when you write a novel. one of the things you realize, there are characters who are dynamic in a novel and they really drive the action and then there are characters who are reactive. and there's no doubt munich,
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chamb chamberlin is the driving force. hitler is passive, and put on the back foot by chamberlin he didn't want to go to munich and he didn't want to sign this wretched agreement and that's something that most people don't know, but it is, in fact, almost inescapable from the historical record. we -- essentially the chamberlin decided to embark on the diplomacy that nobody had seen before. he decided to go and confront hitler directly as the only means of finding out what it was he wanted and whether war could be avoided. in middle of september, he flew to see hitler and he said in the house of commons afterwards, he was away taking
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a huge risk that people would say that's beneath the dignity for him to see the dictator. in order he thought it was worth a try to avoid peace -- to avoid war. he one time even planned to see -- to fly to see hitler to take off from london in an aircraft and no easy journey in those days in an unpressurized aircraft. he didn't propose to tell hitler until he was in the air so he couldn't be turned back. hitler was given notice and he was flattered that the british would come to see him and travel all that way. and hitler agreed to see him. and chamberlin, what is your grievance and why are you going to war. we know that hitler wanted to wipe czechoslovakia out. but his retext was the german and he said that the nation would be free to join germany
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under the declaration of the people to determine their own -- where they should live and to the general public. hitler surprised, see what i can do, effectively. and chamberlin with the pressure of the french to meet hitler's term. and hitler was trying to scramble away from and upped his demands. the among and short of it, he made a mistake setting out what he wanted openly. he didn't do it again. he didn't do that in pearl harbor and never specified his grievances, but he did in 1938 and the french essentially met them and hitler, i think, would still have liked to have gone to war, but when he marched in the divisions through on the day he issued orders to
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mobilize, far from 1914, when everyone stood and cheered, the germans in berlin turned their back on him. with the beginning of the realization, actually, the germans, the ordinary people did not want to go to war. and said to him, you can't have a world war on the questions of modalities, on trivial matters, do you occupy the properties and the first of october or the 10th of october. and so with mussolini's intervention, reluctantly, he agreed to meet chamberlin, a man who he grew to decess. and a-hole is how he referred to chamberlin and bitterly, and to the end of his life he thought he missed the opportunity to go to war in 1938. at the front of the novel i
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have a quotation from hitler in the bunker in 1945, we should have gone to wore september of 1938. it would have been a perfect time and what chamberlin feared, and hitler had seen, to persuade a country to go to a world war to prevent germans joining germany is not an issue of which would be able to sustain a world war and the british and french told czechoslovakia, if they had won they would not be expect today stay in czechoslovakia, it's a long answer, but a good question. >> host: well, i think we'll just shift focus here for a moment because you've also spent a great deal of time, m
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meme meme mete-- metaphorically. >> i wonder if there are any particular classical parallels that come to mind? >> the emporer? [laughter] >> well, the reason i wrote the novels about ancient world. i was fascinated by politics. i was a political journalist and i believe there are certain rules with politics and certain personality types and nothing basically changes and the roman senate at theened of the repu republic contains almost all the same characters we see today, with many of the same problems, using many of the same arts of politics to slug it out. and the parallels with america
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are strong because the founding fathers were influenced by plato and cicero, and many of the institutions of the united states, and so, owe their origins to the ancient world. so, it's fascinating to write about it and to see that nothing really goes much change. and so, you know, i think that the questions raised by ancient world are always troubling because in the end, the democracy failed and even though it's gone on for century, in the end, the structure of the roman republic and system and so on couldn't deal with the vastness that rome had begun. it couldn't doo he will with the amount of money flooding through the system paralyzed by
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corruption. and kato spent years trying to go through campaign finance reform essentially to limit how much candidates could spend in elections and the whole system was bogged down in acrimony and lawsuits until it snapped to pieces. you can probably think of parallels more clearly than i can. >> host: well, out of the frying pan and into the fire. now we come to one of my favorite subjects and one that we've debated and discussed here on a number of occasions, brexit. i know that you-- >> one after the other they're coming in now. [laughter] >> i know that you vo sifr -- vociferously opposed brexit. what i'm wondering is and i
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wonder what your thoughts are on this. do you think that brexit will happen or the weakness of the government, the complexity of the process, the continued opposition of influential people like yourself, mean it might not ever come to pass? >> i think that it probably will come to pass, yes, because i think that the labor party is led by a man who has always been opposed to british membership of the european union or before that the common markets. the labor party is now under the control of a precisely the left wingers who were defeated by tony blair and who do not want to be part because they see it as interfering with the ability of a british government to bring socialism. they think that being part of europe will hamper that-- makes that much more difficult to do. so i think that it's likely
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that britain will leave. this is not something that's going to be settled on the 23rd of june, 2016. this goes back centuries. this goes back to the 18th century. the question of of our relationship with europe. and i would not be at all surprised if there isn't a political party campaigning to rejoin europe and young people of are more pro europe. there's no reason why, 15, 20, 25 years the whole picture will look completely different. for now, i think the british have got themselves-- we have got ourselves tied up in a knot. we introduced into a representative democratic system a process which doesn't suit it, which is that m p's become mandated to do something and that's not what they're supposed to do. and i think it's rather like having a petrol engine car and
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having filled the tank with diesel. it pulls over to the right side and breaks down every hundred yards. >> yet, it was by referendum that britain joined the early version that the european-- . >> it wasn't-- we joined on the bases of votes of house of commerce and by a referendum, but it wasn't-- and that was a short-term tactical ruse, but by a very skillful cicero-like prime minister, harold wilson, who wouldn't have called an election or a referendum without being pretty certain he was going to win it. unfortunately, david cameron lacked that skill. >> host: well, you've mentioned the former prime minister, tony blair, and there's a man who learned, to his sorrow, that it really is never a good idea to fall out with the famous novelist. your portrayal-- . [laughter] >> your portrayal of the very
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blair-like character in "the ghost" it was devastating. can you reflect on your relationship with tony blair. his legacy and recent interventions or attempted interventions in the brexit debate? >> well, you know, one of the things i think about politics, probably a truism to say it, we often think of strength and weaknesses of politicians and actually they have traits of character and in those strong traits of character lie both the weakness and the strength. and that was true of chamberlin and that's true of every leader and it's true of tony blair that his -- his self-confidence, his sense of destiny, his profound sense, i think, of being-- of christianity and of being some sense, a kind of
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instrument for good, led in the end to a kind of unfortunate hubris. he sort of parted company with the reality of -- he was really politically very brilliant reader of the public mood and balancing what he wanted to do with how far he could take the country and he came across this issue with saddam hussein and he made it clearly black and white with no shades of gray in it whatsoever. and that was a mistake. and the mistake was compounded then by leaving, walking out of the house of commons and going off, very blatantly, to make money and then refusal, really, to take any opportunity, and plenty came along, to say on on the whole, although he thought what was the right thing to do,
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events hadn't turned out as he would have liked. instead, his response to the official inquiry into the iraq war was he would do it again tomorrow and he still thinks the world is a better place and frankly most people will simply not accept that. now, that's a tragedy for a man who is a brilliant politician and i think, for instance, on brexit articulates the case for britain remaining a member of the european union better than almost anyone else. but, unfortunately, all of these other pronouncements and general unpopularity make him toxic when it comes to make that argument and i think that is a tragedy. >> host: there's an old joke about the british and the american people being separated by a common language and i think that one of the things that separate them is this view of tony blair. i spent a great deal of time in the u.k. and in ireland and i know that the intensity of t
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the-- or worse directed at him and a the lot of americans are mystified because he was a hyper articulate man who was on our side when things went badly in 2001 is and who seemed so much more of articulating why it was important to fight against islamic extremism than many of our own leaders were. can you help explain to people the real basis of that, why the iraq war hit such a nerve and infuriated people in britain to the extent that it did, after all the casualties were tiny by historical standards, you mentioned three quarters of a million people killed in the first world war. what is the force of that animus, would you say? >> well, i think the powerful democracies should only go to war when they're pretty certain
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that the case they're fighting for. one of the things, to go back briefly to munich, is that after munich, there was no doubt that there was-- there was no peacemaking to be done with hitler. that britain had to go to war on that issue and had to see it through. and the blow was struck first by hitler, breaking all rules. whenever you get a war that is preventative as it were, or anticipated attack, and attacks first, then, it seems to me you're immediately likely to divide the country much more. there was a lot of talk, especially in america, as you know, that saddam hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks. it was spun to make it seem that there was-- that there was some linkment we now know there wasn't a link and indeed, al al qaeda found
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it difficult to operate in iraq. and there was a sense that a war was fought without saddam hussein having actually attacked us. so, there was-- there wasn't a viceral sense for the war. there were complexities about sunni and s shia and islam that were simply not understood by people who made the decision. we were kicking over the situation of immense complexity with great ignorance and we did no proper planning. i'm more amazed there wasn't more prosecution of the people that did this rather than the other way around. i'm not at all surprised about the anger, the allied casualties were light and the casu casualties among the iraqis,
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hundreds of thousands, and if it was in better shape in baghdad. ap i remember seeing the shock and awe and explosions and the rest of it and thinking we will pay a price for this. you can't just go in and do this somewhere without proof they're actually behind the attack on your country and you can expect trouble down the pike. that's my view and probably not a view generally shared, but it would be mine. >> host: just one more question about politics. you're a long-time laborite, but it seems like lately you've had enough, that the current labor leadership, sympathy for ira terrorism and among other things have driven you away. do you feel politically homeless now? >> in terms of a party to vote for, yes, i do.
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i think that the political structures of britain haven't kept pace with the shift in particularly the break over europe. and that my side of the argument or is not really being advanced by either of the main parties. i feel most in common, probably, with the scottish nationalists. and so, i do feel politically homeless. i dislike the extremism on both sides. one of the reasons i've felt so sympathetic to cicero is he is the kind of politician i like, really, pragmatist who will try any tool in the box, if he can, and avoid the extremes of either side. and that has vanished, it vanished with tony blair, really, and certainly then with david cameron. and we now have politics which is driven by extremists on
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either side. they make all the-- >> do you think the snp is a voice of moderation? >> well, i was slightly making a joke. >> oh. >> and in the common language. [laughter] >> conveyed. yeah, i mean, i'm -- you know, i'm 60 so i'm old enough to-- i know i don't look it. i'm old enough to know what britain was like before we went into the european union. the idea that there's a glorious moment we can wind the clock back to and everything will be much wet-- better is nonsense. it won't be that britain will fall off the edge of a cliff, but it will be just that little grimier, that little slower in growth than other countries and will feel a little more out of things. like britain did in the '70s. and we're winding back to 1938,
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one of the reasons chamberlin wanted to avoid fighting hitler in 1938 it was made perfectly clear that a world war would destroy british power, global power and it did, even though we won it it destroyed the british empire and we were not able to fight. we can't go back to 1938. do we go back to 1914, 1890? what is the point at which we say, that's when things were really great because i don't think we can find that spot. >> host: well, i think you'll be relieved to know we'll take a brief break from politics and bet back to fiction. this question is for the writers and aspiring writers among us. how do you craft your novels? do you outline carefully? and/or do you start writing and see where it takes you? and what are your daily routines with writing? >> well, i -- when i started
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off writing, i found it very hard to write fiction. it took me four years to write fatherland. it took me years to write enigma, five years to write pompei and then i started to speed up. i think i knew -- i became more aware are of the techniques of writing and i enjoyed it more because i had more books under my belt. i didn't feel each time i brought out a book i'd be judged just on that one, there would be more now. people would say i like that, but maybe not this one so much and i really did find things that did interest me and they come out of nowhere. i was interested in the ewilkes of the pope. i'd seen the pope there on the balcony after the election and the cardinals tearing out and looking at him. and i thought, what went on, i wonder, to get him there? who are the people wroting and how did they vote?
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it was pure curiosity to write that book. enig enigma-- munich, i'd been interested in the moral compromises and the sense that it wasn't really what people thought it was. it was really written to satisfy that itch and most of my books now, that's what i do. i go with are i was curist. i was a journalist and i naturally look out at the world and the past and there's always a story to write about. as to how i do it, well, i speed it up and normally research a book in six months and write it in six months. i normally start writing mid january and finish around the end of june, beginning of july. i work in the mornings. i don't work in the afternoons. i think you can only really write creatively for three or four hours a day. i've learned to respect what steven king calls the boys in the basement, sub conscious where i think a lot of writing
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is done while you're asleep or walking the dog or whatever and that's when i think so this happen. and i pace myself. and i like to write, maybe, what i like to think is maybe 20,000 words a month. so, five or six months will give you a book length novel and it's been a great joy to do it, i must say, it's been-- it's all i ever really wanted to do and i've been fortunate that i've been able to do it. and over 25 years since i published my first novel. and well, what could be a nicer thing than to sit and day dream all the time? martin amos was asked how did he-- how could he be a writer and he wanted to turn it back, and say how do you deal with unmediated reality? [laughter] >> i think, you know, i come here, i love coming to america
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and i have a new novel in my head sat thinking about it at the hotel this morning and wherever i go, i carry my own inner world around with me and that's great sol li-- solace i'd almost say these days. >> host: this is after conclave came out and i said many' reading robert harris' conclave. and he said don't tell me! he doesn't want to see how it ended. and going behind the scenes, and ask you about that novel in particular, did you have conversations with indiscrete cardinals or-- . [laughter] >> it would be indiscrete of me. i did have a conversation with a cardinal, yes. i won't say that he told me
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much that i hadn't already discovered. there was a certain sense of gave one confidence to speak with one who actually had been there and seen it all. and he liked the book. at the the end, he wrote me a letter, the cardinals says all we cardinals would wish to be, not untroubled by this, trying to do the right thing and highly intelligent and i enjoyed it very much. as for the ending, i kept telling myself, it's only a novel. >> host: i won't tell you what it is, but if you haven't read it it's a doozy of a twist. >> i am, of course, obligated to see what when will we see a robert harris novel about winston churchill? >> oh, well, i mean, i've always been fascinated by churchill 1940 and i think that now that ground has been
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comprehensively taken over. i was looking up five flights, i think, that churchill made to france in may and june of 1940 and there was one in particular, the darkest time when he flu flew and met by general spears, the liaison between the british and french and he described how churchill came down the flights of the-- a sort of bumpy flight across the channel escorted by spitfire and he had his cane and he came over to spear. and he said i could see he was in good humor. and take his stick, poke me in the stomach and grin at me. and i thought at that one moment you really saw what a character, and i would have loved to have written about it, but i, obviously, chamberlin, there isn't going to be a
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chamberlin library and center anytime soon. >> maybe at georgetown. [laughter] >> that's sort of internal joke which i think i can understand. but i'm pleased to have done chamberlin because i think that-- churchill liked chamberlin, he this got on and when he worked for him. churchill never criticized him behind his back and when churchill was prime minister, chamberlin never criticized him and including the idea of peace talks. and he didn't, he had enough of adolf hitler, thank you very much. but the two men, it seemed to me, each of them was necessary. it was good that we didn't fight in 1938 because we only had 20 spitfires for a start. the spitfires that were in
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britain weren't by churchill. they were built by chamberlin spending 50% of government expenditure in britain was in armaments. you need him not only for re-armament and the time bought, but the moral sense that churchill was able to play on and that chamberlin had done what he wanted to do. he showed the people there was no alternative to fighting and that, i think, was something that churchill was able to draw on the strength he had gotten from chamberlain and we were he thinks ming the wonderful eulogy that churchill did on chamb chamberlin's death. and obviously churchill was the great figure, but chamberlin played his part, too. >> on that note we'll turn to the audience for questions. we have a microphone there, if
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you have a question for robert harris, please, it might be handiest to bring the microphone around, actually and we'll just take a few questions and then stop so that there's time for you to buy books over there and robert-- we don't want to interfere with that. >> yes. [laughter] >> thank you very much, mr. harris. you may have just answered the question that i had in my mind for the last 40 minutes and that is what is your ultimate verdict on chamberlin at munich? could he have done something more or better or different and therefore, was munich really in that sense a failure as everyone generally thinks munich was? or do you think that because it
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gave britain another year to rearm and because he did go the extra mile to try to have peace in our time, whether it succeeded or not, do you think that actually chamberlin succeeded at munich? >> yes, i mean, that really is the thrust of the novel. that munich represented a triumph, if you wanted to call it that, but at least a victory for chamberlin and victory for hitler, the opposite of what people think. >> and gerhardt wineberg, he makes this point, that you know, i mean, just to take a small example, the famous piece of people which really is, every time it's shown, you kind of cringe. well, chamberlin, the wording of it i've always found rather strange, clumsy, wooden,
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strange phrasing. actually what he did was take hitler's speech he made earlier that week in which he proclaimed his desire for peace and our two countries never going to war again. he wrote it out and took it to hitler's apartment to get him to sign his own words and the people, the foreign office people travelling with chamberlin said this is highly risky. you can imagine them and chamberlin said if he doesn't stick to it, he said, people will see it and the americans, he said, will see it and it will bring america in. i'm going to make a big thing of it when i get back to london, which he did. holding it at arm's length because he was too vane to pair spectacles and he did that
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for hitler with the agreement and it was all over the world. and it was like flinging himself on an electrified fence. it destroyed him, but it had value in the end that it did nail hitler has a liar. and chamberlin had to make a beg thing of it. he couldn't come back from munich and say, he signed it, but i don't trust him, many' spending half of our gdp, because this guy is a maniac. he had to go at least through the motions that he'd got a deal and that's a subtle point that's often not appreciated, i think. >> oh, gosh. >> i hope it's worth the wait. >> anyway, yes.
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>> how-- just curious-- i'm just curious about how you research, i read "an officer and a spy" and "fatherland" and you had a lot of i guess you'd call color in it and i'm wondering how do you that bit of research? >> well, i never employed a researcher in my life. i do everything myself because for me, plowing through the documents, the diaries and letters, i trying to go back to original sources as much as possible. that's for the novels that i write. the fa fact i might spend two hours, three hours, and only get one tiny detail for use, it's like like itself, you go through and find a tiny detail. i weave them together and on the colorful detail, that sort of thing that people might pass over, also, i try to know ten times more than i'll ever put
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in a book. i often think that ancient rome, if i was writing about a character in london walking down awes it instreet i would say he walked down the street and turned right at bun street. and i want say he was walking past the famous selfridge store, that was founded by an american, and you have to be able to leave some of this behind and the possibilities. every book is an ocean of wonderful limitless possibilities until you set down the first sentence and then it becomes like every other book written. there's always a hope when you're researching. >> this gentleman in the back and then this gentleman in the front next. >> hi, this is actually a very appropriate follow-on to that question. i'm a historian here at george washington university and i've enjoyed your books since
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reading "fatherland" and getting odd looks because of the swastika on the book. and the archives, so much color there. and i asked alan first, do you ever work in archives? >> yes, quite often, i worked in the archives for "emig na" i went through the u-boats and read them all in sequence for that book and it's shattering to actually deal with that sort of thing. i remember once actually, putting it in a book, researching, coming across a document that morton, the intelligence advisor for churchill, some proposed piece deal and churchill's own writing was it on so vigorously did he disagree, scrolling no all over it, at one point he'd
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torn the paper with the pen. so those sorts of documents really rise up and you know, you could feel the force of history through them. i much prefer, my favorite reading is not really novels or history books. >> it's diariediaries, letters, journals, that's real. you have a sense of a real people. and nowhere to get it better, obviously, than an archive. >> host: sir. >> i was going to ask you to engage-- oops. in a little imagery history. there's this idea that chamberlin even answered to the prime minister and 0 agreement with hitler. what would have happen if they had gotten an agreement? and my impression is always abouten that hitler really wanted to go east and the idea was possibly exaggerated.
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i don't think that british authorities could put it aside, but exaggerated that hitler would, in fact, come and try to take over britain, at least not for a long time and the russians would have had a much harder time because i'd doubt that we'd have gotten involved. >> yes, i tend to agree with you to be honest. after munich, hitler, he said we should have gone to war in 38. the only sound recording we have hitler talking in an ordinary way. manaheim, finnish leader, and he went to meet in finland and again, he goes on to manaheim i wanted to invade france in 1939. and the invasion of 1941 in
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russia, he felt, again, was a year too late. he felt on the back foot and to listen to that tape in 1942, which is on-line for anyone who wants to listen to it, it's fascinating because hitler size, he-- hitler sighs, he's talking about the russians, he had 35,000 tanks. in any of my generals would have said we have 35,000 tanks i would have said you're mad, but the russians had time to rearm as well. so, i agree with you, i think that by the time of 1940 it was quite difficult and royal may have been the most powerful in the world. it would have been very difficult to get across channel and i think that she is spitfires had a great advantage over home soil fighting. i think it would have been difficult and i think one of the reasons, paradoxically that churchill was so anxious not to
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hear these peace terms which would have come through mussolini. they might have been very lenient. actually. i don't think that the-- i don't think what frightened him was he was going to say you scuffled the royal navy, you installed, these-- in buckingham palace, i think it would have been more like a partnership. and the pact, and the german em pure and he did what he always wanted to do go into russia. and thank god, i agree, i'm grateful to churchill for his resolute determination not to hear what might have been a generous offer, many were trapped and destroyed and not many leaders would have heard in deepest secrecy what the peace terms might be. it's a extraordinan extraordinan
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history. i'm not surprised that we endlessly go back to it. >> host: we have time for one more back here. >> yes, thank you so much. so, i have a question about your writing in general. so, you write about different regions, different personalities, historical figures. when you're writing a book what is your overall mission or goal? because it just seems to be very interesting to kind of provide a different perspective of these people or a different outlook on the region or historical. but do you have, in one sentence if you had to tell someone in a two-second pitch what your overall mission or goal would be? i'm cues why us because like i said, it seems to cover up much. >> thank you. and now days you get the colorized archive footage or stills and how if you apply color to them, suddenly it becomes much more vibrant and
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immediate. in a literary sense that's what i would like to do, convey the aliveness, and that human beings went through so much in the past and wear in mind whatever problems we face in america or britain. people have been through worse things and they weren't that different to us. i mean, if i can somehow convey that, then, which is what i feel, that that is-- that's the nearest i can come to encompassing what it is i'm trying to do. >> host: well, i think that's a very eloquent summing up. another goal for any novelist is to sell and sign books. [laughter]. >> host: i think if we wrap it out, we'll allow robert to do just that. a very special thank you to robert harris. >> thank you very much.
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