tv Author Discussion on World War II CSPAN August 18, 2019 9:00am-10:00am EDT
our last panel, the 4:00 panel, world war ii. i'm the graduate dean at jackson state university. this will last about 45 minutes and then we will have 15 minutes for q&a and the sponsors for our parents panel is commercial bank representative, do we have any in the room ? let's thank them. now i have the pleasure of introducing our moderator, mister james a peters who is not only an attorney with the jackson law firm of sennett, wilkinson and peden but retired asbrigadier general with themississippi air national guard , thank you for your service . [applause] >> welcome everyone to this final panel of the afternoon
and we want to extend a special welcome to those who may be watching us on c-span. i'm not sure how i ended up being the moderator here, and understand that john evans, the owner of the bookstore from whom i have purchased many books on world war ii suggested i might be at appropriate moderator so i thank john for that. i was born april 24 1944 during world war ii, i was born six weeks before the day when my father was serving overseas as a staff argent in the army national guard, i'm sorry, the us army. world war ii has always had a profound influence on my family, on my childhood and indeed, upon my entire life . at this moment i will introduce all three of the distinguished authors who constitute ourpanel this afternoon .
before i do that, i would like to recognize anyone in the audience who may be a veteran of the united states armed forces if you served in the army, navy, air force, marine or coast guard , would you please stand and be recognized ? [applause] do we by chance have anyone who might have served during world war ii as a veteran of that conflict? let me know proceed with the introduction of our three panelists. after i've introduced them i will call on each of them to take a few words about his most recent book or other books about world war ii and we will then have a general discussion on significant aspects of the war.
i know everyone in the audience is anxious to hear their perspective on our panelist and we will try to save a few minutes at the end to receive your questions. let me now introduce our panelist alphabetically. i was told to keep the he introductions brief, they have such impressive biographies that is difficult to do. our first panelist is michael dobbs, a british american born in belfast northern ireland in 1950. he was educated at ethe university of york in england where he was awarded a bachelor of arts degree in economics and social history . he completed fellowships at harvard and became an american citizen in 2010. mister dobbs spent much of his career as a foreign correspondent covering the collapse of communism. to serve as rome correspondent for reuters news agency in the 70s and then joined the washington post in 1980 and served as chief outpost in eastern europe based in warsaw and
served as bureau chief of the newspaper in paris and in moscow. he is a staff member of the us holocaust memorial museum. mister dobbs who lives in bethesda maryland is the author of numerous books including one minute to midnight aboutthe cuban missile crisis in 1962 . his most recent book is entitled the unwanted: america, auschwitz and the village in between. this book is the story of jewish families in the small german village of kitten time to the southwestern portion of germany near the swiss borders. during the 1930s, jewish families in that community saw what was coming as hitler obtained increasing power. many of these families attempted to escape to america, some were successful, some were not and
ended up being murdered in auschwitz. both discussions also, the immigration policies of the united states during that time, it raises troubling questions about the immigration policy of the united states government under president roosevelt . our second author is alex kershaw, born in york england in 1966. he attended university college oxford where he studied politics, philosophy and economics. he taught history for a while before becoming a journalist for several british newspapers including the guardian and the sunday times. his articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines and he has worked as a screenwriter and in television. including being the narrator for the history channels last days of world war ii.
mister kershaw has led several battlefield tours in europe for the national world war ii museum in new orleans, he is author of several books on world war ii including the longest winter about the battle of the bulge and the bedford boys about the sacrifice of an extraordinarily large number of young soldiers from bedford virginia. mister kershaw's latest book is the first wave about the day. in this book he focuses upon the experiences of the very first american british and canadian soldiers who landed in normandy on june 6 1944. our third author down at the end is samuel, sam kleiner. he holds a bachelors degree from northwestern university, a doctorate degree in international relations from the university of oxford where he was a rhodes, where he was a marshall scholar and
he holds a lawdegree from the law school . he served as a law clerk to judge gerard lynch on the us of appeals for the second circuit and is an advisor on international trade negotiations and the office of the united states trade representative . he is now an attorney with is distinguished new york city law firm of boyd, schiller, flex. his bwritings have been publishedin the atlantic and in the los angeles times . his most recent book is entitled the flying tigers, the untold story of the american pilots who waged a secret war against japan, this book was published just last year. as i think most of you know, flying tigers is the adventurous name given to the american volunteer group. american military pilots who led by the enigmatic claire chenault, and the flying tigers the japanese in the
skies and in the skies of china both before and after world pearl harbor . the flying tigers with the tacit approval of president roosevelt and the american government fought under contract with the chinese government led by shanghai shack. mister kleiner, you complete a most distinguished triumvirate of authors so i would now like to ask each of our panelist in turn to say something about your recent book and perhaps some of the challenges you face in writing that book, mister dobbs, would you go first ? >> thank you very much, it's wonderful to be here . my book is about us immigration policy under president roosevelt . during the years leading up to the holocaust and the early years of world war ii. it's a very controversial
subject o. there being a lot of books attacking the president, others defending him. what i wanted to do was to integrate stories of what was happening in washington, the political struggle that was going on in those years. over immigration and refugee policy. with the stories of a specific group of people with whom we could identify, people trying to reach the united states from nazi germany whose lives were in danger and who were trying in order to survive, they needed to obtain what the american journalist dorothy thompson called a piece of paper with a stamp. and whether you lived or whether you died recently dependent on whether you can obtain this document. so i looked at one single community in the southwest of
germany, a little village called time and i look at the jewish families in this village. particularly after kristallnacht, the horrifying violence against the jews in november 1938, they all understand that their only option is toget out of germany as quickly as possible . they all apply for american visas. and i described the challenges they face in getting the visas, some succeed, some don't. people who don't, most of them end up being deported to auschwitz in 1942. but i'm trying to commit this political story, bureaucratic story and make it human story. when i was a journalist, in eastern europe and the soviet union, bring collapse of communism i was struck by the fact that the political debates in washington have
very little to do with what is actually happening on the ground. so i tried to connect in the political story to the human story that was visible to me. the one of the elements was of course the obsessionwith national security . it was feared that if we let refugees into the country, they could pose a threat to us national security, they could be, the germans could be trying to infiltrate the fifth columnists, not the agents into the us. curiously enough, anotherbook i wrote about world war ii is called the saboteurs . it was about not the agents who landed sent here by submarine in 1943 and they landed in, one group landed in florida, another group landed in long island so there were attempts by the germans to infiltrate the
united states.this wasn't just a fantasy, it wasn't just a political rhetoric but the question is that i tried to examine in the book and that i think is still a topical question is what is the life balance between humanitarianism and national security policy. i think if you read my book, you'll come away with your own ideas on that but that's probably enough for now. >> we celebrated the 75th anniversary of the day, more than two months ago. esther kershaw has written about d-day in the first wave , telling us a story about the paratroopers, commandos, rangers and other soldiers who led the invasion of normandy. mister kershaw, tell us about your book and the challenges you face in writing it. >> it's great to be here. only 90 degrees.
>> it was 57 in the english channel on d-day, that was cold . . i think i prefer that but it's great to be with you. i'm an unabashed hero worship f her, i've spent 25 years of my life celebrating and spending time with the working-class americans who liberated europe and for the 75th anniversary i was in ashamedly commercial because i had to make a living from world war ii and i thought twhat a fantastic opportunity on the 75th anniversary to celebrate the guys that i've always worshiped most or who did the most important jobs so i took 12, commanders and six americans, for british, to and i added one frenchman. a french commando who landed in the first wave and my idea was i was going to take these 12 junior combat commanders,
left tenant and above -- can you hear me? and i was going to tell the story of these amazing combat commanders who had the toughest missions, the sthighest takes, they were most likely to die if they failed so to celebrate them, the first american to come ashore in utah, a 28-year-old called leonard schroeder from maryland . this one. sorry. 'sanyway, it's about d-day. thank you. >> the coolest guys on d-day. >> sam kleiner has written about the flying tigers, a band of american pilots who in their sharp nosed people he warhawks aircraft fought the japanese in the early days of the war. exploits were highly
publicized. in 1951 and i was a seven-year-old boy living in fort knox kentucky, my father who had been called to active duty was stationed there and i first saw television and on saturday morning there was a program entitled the flying tigers and i ordered through that television program on flying tigers secret decoder ring from the cereal company sponsoring the program and i remember as a boy seeing the movie the flying tigers starring john wayne . please tell us a bit about your book. >> thank you and it's wonderful to be here in jackson and to see so many friends here. my book as you mentioned is about this very famous unit, at the very beginning of world war ii. actually before pearl harbor, president roosevelt secretly
authorized sending american pilots and these people he plans to help the chinese fighting against the japanese and i tell that very apologized story through the lens of the men and some women who were part of that unit. pilots led by the enigmatic claire chennault from the backwoods of louisiana . and young guys who sign up for this unit, but really for the sense ofadventure . a bound themselves in training in a remote base in burma when pearl harbor happens and they're essentially stuck on the wrong side of the world. and they quickly become the first american pilots to fight back against the japanese after thedevastating attack in pearl harbor . and their sharp nosed p 40's quickly become one of the most iconic images in american history of americans at war. hollywood recognized the good story of course when they see it, they rush out in1941 ,
the john wayne movie. based on their story and they quickly became some of the most famous americans of world war ii. and what i wanted to do with this book which came out some of my graduate work of oxford k was to write the true story of this unit and so i got to meet the last survivor, still living in georgia and got to meet the families of so many of these pilots who were going to the flying tigers reunion reand through assembling primary documents, letters, diaries, combat reports, looking at old newspaper clippings was able to put together the story to be one of these flying tigers in the cockpit of the inburma , china and the early days of world war ii and for me, the book is dedicated to both of my grandfathers who i believe are watching on c-span right
now. my grandfather otis miller who is the doctor during the war and my grandfather herman kleiner who was the navigator on ab 25 in the pacific and growing up i would get to go with herman to see a lot of the planes that were in the aerospace museum in arizona and i wanted to acknowledge what generation had done which i think is the animating theme for all of us here , this is a really important moment in history wherever you were and it truly was a global war and our folks span the globe, but there was a lot of heroism and a lot of important stories that are still worth l remembering many years later. >> thank you.k world war ii was the most cataclysmic event of the 20th century and perhaps of all time. the war was unrelenting in its construction of property and in the deaths of persons all over the world . no one knows many people died
in world war ii. the best estimates range from between 55 million people and 60 million people, including many civilians. there were approximately 30 million deaths at the soviet tunion alone, two thirds of those being soviet civilians. there were approximately 15 million chinese killed, approximately 6 million polls killed, many of them murdered by the nazis because theywere jews . deaths in yugoslavia and the balkans totaled approximately 2 million. germany lost 4 million dead, japan lost 1 million dead, italy's casualties were about 300,000 written law 400,000 soldiers and civilians and after the united states
entered the war in 1941, approximately 405,000 americans aservicemen died before the japanese surrendered december 2, 1945. the war forever changed american society and made the united states hethe most powerful nation in the world and the war brought the united states on the world stage as a leading player. the effects of world war ii are still being felt today. more than 5000 books have been published on world war ii and the books coming off the presses as illustrated by the books our office have just published. i'd like to ask our panelists to discuss the current state of world war ii historiography . we've had a lot of secret government archives opened in recent years and information
is now availablethat would not have been available 15 or 20 years ago . mister dobbs, would you like to comment about that and any problems you hadfinding sources for your work ? >> being an author researching world war ii, the oral histories are no longer the most important but those after all are the people who participated in d-day, most of them have passed away and i feel there are fewer and fewer survivors of the holocaust but by contrast, it is still a huge amount that one can discover new things. whenever you go to the archives and dig in the archives that give up a better understanding of what actually happened. i think that we are getting to a more balanced view of world war r, of the events of the war.
i was a reporter as you mentioned for a long time in the soviet union . a lot of books that were written about the war focused, my friend from the washington post rick atkinson wrote three books about the liberation trilogy about the american role in the second world war. but we're now beginning to explore the role of other countries and the role of the soviet union and we're beginning to integrate over the last few years the types of communism, a huge amount of material has come from the archives of the soviet bloc. we're trying to integrate their stories with the stories that we've been familiar with in the west. i think there's a lot more to done be done on that.
i think there's more to be understood about the relative sacrifices of russia and america. so in historiography, there's a phase where the victors write their own history and then there's a phase where there's a phase of questioning those accounts and then finally a phase of the census and trying to draw on all the evidence and i think that's the phase that we're in at the moment. >> mister kershaw. >> it's come close to my concern. thankfully several institutions including the one you work for now have done an amazing job in the last 20 or 30 years learning that officially the year is 2023 when the us government will accept that their role in world war ii so we really
at the end of this so-called greatest generation which was a marketing term by the way. the world war ii museum iwork for right often, the list is very long . i've done a fantastic job of putting down endless oral history so although the participants are not there anymore tragically, very sadly for me, i'm going to have to move on because my great pleasure in my career is talking to the people who were there but for example i wrote a book called the liberator about an american officer who was the first guy to command americans when they liberated dachau in 1945 so that was the first concentration camp in nazi germany, very symbolic . interviewed at great length by you guys and no one has been interviewed before in a book so when i wrote the liberator i spent 4 and a
half hours going through the interview so what i'm saying is that we have a treasure trove that has yet to be explored at then given to us by very vigilant historians in terms of oral history that we haven't explored yet and you'll notice there's been a wave of female spine nonfiction from world war ii because in britain and in particular with the sop files, those have all been declassified now. you will see soon a wave of books about escape and evasion, one of the coolest topics of world war ii, for example if i was to tell you this, this is amazing but there were over 2000 americans who did what was called a homerun in world war ii so they went into a pub in cambridge in 1943, 44, 1945, had a drink and went on a bombing mission the next day and they got shot down. and they made a homerun which is today at least a50 or more
people in the french resistance, they were taken from where they were shot down, carried through france , over to the pyrenees which they climbed in january, then taken back by the british or americans to east anglia to be in all their cases to be in an air force base to the left and that was called homegrown. all of those intelligence, those guys came back and were interrogated for often weeks. they were highly suspect, we the british and the americans thought that they been turned by the gestapo so if you spent a year on the run in europe, you got out of europe and you could have been arrested by the gestapo. those intelligence supports were classified until the mid to thousands so there had
only been, you can only read those the last 10 years and the reason was and i'll shut up after this, i'm being boring, the reason was during the cold war which you and michael have written beautifully about, during the cold war, the cold war had already begun before the war ended in europe. we know we had this network of guys, of agents and resistance workers that helped down the american and british pilots so if the war came a hot war, we would immediately use that network so all that was classified. over 2000 americans that formed a miracle that couldn't talk about it for their entire lives and many of those guys in europe never talked about their family or to anybody about it because it was an official secret. so there's stuff like that that we're constantly discovering, amazing stories coming out and will continue to come out, amazing stories . >> mister kleiner 75 years
after world war ii we are nearing the point where people are willing to engage in different types ouof narratives that were of less interest in the first wave of history so the flying tigers which i'm writing about were popular going all the way back to 1941 in the first wave of writers to address them really did break up hero worship. the number of japanese planes they shut down was probably inflated. and were not really engaging in broader history of that theater. and i think we're now at a hi time when people are willing to evaluate a more transnational and global iscope of the war so my book i talk about the chinese they were working with and the british were there because it burma was at that time a british colony so we're starting to see more of the global scope of the war and i think also there's much more
interest in different types of narratives so there had been much earlier books on the flying tigers but they never touch on one of my favorite characters from my book, a woman by the name of emma foxworth who is a nurse from pennsylvania who joined the unit and had studied abroad in china and was interested to join this unit and she had a remarkable story in the unit of falling uin love with one of the pilots and they traded letters back and forth when they were separated during conflict and those letters were in the basement of an archive at yale university where i was cutting for our bible records i had telling the story and no one had looked for the purpose of telling the story of the flying tigers and over the course of a couple years got to know different families that some of them still in their private collection would have a trove of combat
reports which told a minute by minute account of these battles or had collections of letters that had been stashed away in an attic or a clonic closet so there's a rich amount of history that's out there and hopefully is being centralized into a museum so that historians many years from now can tell these stories anand i think the museum that mister dobbs works at, the holocaust museum is one of the most important places in the world foretelling and preserving those tories, if i could have a very quick digression, my fiancce's grandmother that was telling mister dobbs was a survivor from the concentration camp and survived through the war, carrying a ring that one of her friends had given her and that ring is in the holocaust museum as is her oral history and those kinds of things need to be preserved for many years to come and it's important work these museums are doing. >> thank you. as i was growing up, i learned a lesson that came
out of the dangers of appeasement. let me ask abroad question , what lessons have we learned and what lessons are we still learning coming out of the war? mister potter, let me ask you to go first this time. sort of a broad question . >> i think one of the important weapon lessons from world war ii, something i've been thinking about recently is the importance of alliances and this is something that was touched on earlier . we think of world war ii in a predominantly american context but if you read alex kershaw's book on d-day you will read not just about americans but about canadians and british and the french commander who was there and i'm writing about america's alliance with china which is not something we typically think of during world war ii in the context of world war
ii but china has been called the forgotten ally of the war so roosevelt very carefully was navigating alliances all over the world in order to defeat japan and germany and italy, had to navigate alliances of the soviet union with china, with great britain with a whole host of other docountries and he would do that through a series of summits and constantly having different emissaries and ambassadors working on these diplomatic relations so i think right now, you hear a lot about , i don't want to get political but politely political, you hear about america first right now and that rhetoric was from the 1930s from the isolationist movement before world war ii that didn't want america to get involved in what they saw as a european war, if the america first committee and that rhetoric is in many ways diametrically opposed to how we won the war which was through establishing a series of alliances that allowed us
to form a coalition that would go on to win the war so i think we need to think carefully about theimportance of alliances and the entire series of international institutions we've built in the wake of world war ii which are worth preserving today . >> mister alex kershaw, what aboutlessons from the war mark . >> some of the belief that the foundation of modern civilization is the north atlantic alliance between europe and north thamerica. i think the second world war established that without any questions and i think it's the mostimportant thing that we have gs. any damage to that is a very profound damage to the futures of my son and other generations.i would say this, 138,000 americans, mainly working-class died to liberate europe from 1942 to 1945 and today their legacy
is a western democracy, 75 years of peace. never in european history how that happened before. l a75 years is a long time whe you look at the barbarism and the murder that's happened that has scarred that continent and there is a democracy in western europe so we were allied with arguably and evil of the greatest narcissism which is stolid. and three quarters of the dying and fighting in europe was on the eastern front so the germans were basically beaten by the red army, by soviets, by anti-humanists, by barbarism. if you went to germany in berlin in 1945, they acted barbaric lead. if you are a woman you had a good chance of being raped wherever you were. budapest 8 to 80 women were raped, one every 12 minutes so they were barbarians but
they were our allies and we tend to forget that. you can vote in france, you can vote in holland, you can vote in west germany because of allied sacrifice and in particular towards the end of the war, i'll finish after this, american sacrifice in europe. the day around 1550 and a majority of americans fighting on the western front in europe. on the eastern front, the west but by december 19 44/70 percent of the killing and the dying is done by americans in europe so you entered the war afterpearl harbor , way too late if you were a bridge, my grandmother used to say that but you ended up finishing the job certainly in western europe, let's forget about thepacific but if you hadn't been there in western europe we wouldn't have had the protection , the democracy and civilization that we've enjoyed as europeans and i'm 53 years old without that great
sacrifice and contribution from all the allies and in particular towards the end of the war in europe by americans. there would not be a democracy in western europe it would have been completely commonest . >> they're about to becoming us anyway, they absolutely wouldhave been communist . >> i agree with everything you said and on one hand the importance of the western alliance, but we shouldn't forget as you mentioned the eastern alliance and i think we're beginning to get more sophisticated understanding of the politics of the second world war. the fact is that in order to defeat hitler, the united states and the united kingdom allied themselves with a dictator who was arguably as evil and as has murdered as many people as hitler did. i wrote a book called six months in 1945 that describes
the last few months of the war and the beginning of the cold war and very quickly, we went from being allied to the soviet union to being the enemy of thesoviet union . and we in subsequent years tended to suppress the fact that most of the killing of the where macht was taking place on the eastern front . there was a moral ambiguity at the heart of western strategy in the second world war. fwe beat the nazis because we allied ourselves with the communists. and there's no getting around with that. somehow we have to grapple with that central moral ambiguity of the war when we think about fightingwars . >> in the 1930s, the united states was a nation divided. mister kleiner mentioned a
moment ago the america first movement. how the nation was isolationist, wanted to stay out of the war. another half of the nation saw that we would probably be drawn into the war, president roosevelt walking atight rope . help lead the united states to become the arsenal of democracy, the selective service act, a lot of other things were done by the united states government to help britain and itsallies fighting the nazis . after the japanese attacked pearl harbor, the division of the country went away overnight. we were a united nation. would you comment upon that, mister kleiner? >> it's a great question as i focused on a lot of my book because roosevelt was very
focused on taking what he calledmeasures short of war and there was a need to keep america out of the war , roosevelt had made very vocal statements condemning japanese and german aggression for pearl harbor, including the quarantined speech in 1937 where he talked about the need for quarantine against aggressors but by and large there was not public support for america getting in to what they saw as another european conflict and there was a lot of opposition on capitol hill from a public and senators like robert taft and vernon wheeler didn't want to see america get involved in this european or the asian conflict between japan and china and roosevelt was really taking measures were a allies so what i'm writing about is this program to assist china and they have been invaded by japan in 1937 and particularly the secretary of the treasury phenry morgan paul was a
fascinating individual, took a great interest in china and ensure that chang kai-shek could get loans for large armament purposes and then took a step which is extraordinary of authorizing sending american planes and american pilots who were released from their service i in the us military to go fight against the japanese and morgan paul in his diary chronicles these meetings where they're talking actively about sending over american planes and pilots to china to fight against the japanese as really a covert mission where you would have plausible diet deniability because if any of these guys were shot down you would be able to say these weren't e official american military ep forces so there were extraordinary steps taken to do that and i think roosevelt deserves a lot of credit for his efforts to help the
allies before america entering world war ii and in some ways to prepare america for entering the warthe arsenal democracy reference was an important speech before pearl harbor talking about america's efforts to aid allies . >> mister dobbs, would you like to comment? >> as we all studied the yale circumference, fdr was assistant secretary of the navy and he saw how public opinion turned against woodrow wilson at the end of the war. somehow will woodrow wilson didn't manage to deliver this piece. >> can you move closer to the mic? >> woodrow wilson didn't manage to deliver the lasting peace that he had promised so one of roosevelt central ideas when he went to yalta was to set up a system of
international institutions, particularly the united nations that would make good on the failures from the first world war and the failure of the league of nations. it was important to him at yalta in these negotiations with stalin and with churchill. it was less important to stalin but to roosevelt, it was absolutely essential that these international institutions would be set up to persuade the american people that war had been worth all the esacrifices . >> mister kershaw, i'm sure the british people were impatient riwith the united states to getinto more . and churchill wound franklin roosevelt, would you talk about that? >> from the first day churchill enters 10 downing street, i can't do my
churchill. the fog of war. i can't do a posh english accent, michael is much better at it than me. i can do a boris impression, i can hold my hair but that black door, was it blackin 1940 ? anyway, if you see the pictures of doris ruffling his hair, he does that apparently people goes to speak in public but anyway in 1940, churchill entered 10 downing street, it was may 14, 1940 and never in modern british history had things look so bad. the news from europe was disastrous, almost all of europe was under the nazi jackboot and we were alone in the battle of britain, we were absolutely alone. i wrote a book called a few about the 11 americans who
flew in the battle of britain in thesummer of 1940 . so churchill liked to be naked a lot, even around his underlings that were around him, his secretaries and his son and one day in may 1940 he was shaving and his son was talking to him and he was completely naked. i'd let you guys imagine what that was like . and he threw his razor into the sink and his son was there and churchill said i've got it. it wasn't a drink, he got an idea and his son said what have you got? avand he said i've worked out how we're going to win the war. the son said how mark and he said we're going to drag the united states in so from the very first day that winston churchill was in power as prime minister, he did everything i, bag, borrow,
there was nothing he wouldn't do to bring you guys into the war because if we didn't do that, it was done, we had no chance so everything was about that. he was celebrating when pearl harbor came along . it took a japanese attack on pearl harbor to bring you guys in but everything the british could do, they did to persuade you guys to comein . >> mister kleiner, would you talk about the relationship between the leader of the flying tigers and chang kai-shek and madame chiang who was educated in the united states? >> it's a fascinating story and it was an honor to beable to tell it in the book .i think the arsenal is one of the most fascinating commanders fromworld war ii . he was a basically an army air force stunt pilot. he grew up inthe backwoods of
louisiana . became essentially a predecessor to the blue angels. he had a group called the flying trapeze stationed at maxwell air force base or art army base in alabama and they would travel the country doing these acrobatic performances that were among the most ewell-known acrobatic pilot acts in the country which was a very big deal at the time and at the miami airshow in 1935 he was approached by a chinese military officer who said how would you like to comefly for us in china ? that was an extraordinary entrce and that he had first declined it, he had a wife and seven kids but over the course of the next seven years he saw his career in the air corps was getting stalled and he was concerned about flying a desk, he had butted heads with the commanding officers so he accepted the invitation and went over to china in 1937,
never having left the country before and ended up becoming a very close advisor to chang kai-shek was the commander of the nationalist forces and his wife madame chiang who is an extraordinary figure as you mentioned. was educated in the us, spoke english and she saw china's position as they were fighting against the japanese which started in july 1937 as being tied up with getting roosevelt to come in and support china so not just from churchill's posture, as they were thinking about how are they going to get out from underneath this massive company invasion and the chinese air force was destroyed in the early fighting in that war in cities like shanghai and china was pushed back into a very small corner down recently up against the himalayas in what they called free china, cities like chunking close to the border with burma and chennault was given the extraordinary task by chang kai-shek and madame
chang in 1940 of going back to washington dc and trying to lobby the roosevelt administration in concert with a couple chinese officials to set up this group which was officially known as the american volunteer group and later became famous as the flying tigers and so he was an extraordinary figure who rose to great prominence during the war, was on the cover of life and "time magazine". and his personal story is remarkable, getting to read his diary and a lot of his papers through the family are a fun part of writing this book. he ultimately came to feel more at home in china and he did back in the us. he returned to louisiana after the war, went back and his wife and saw that that wasn't the life you want it so he endedup returning to china , marrying a chinese woman who is fascinating in her own right and spent the rest of his life working for chang kai-shek through the 1950s when he passed away.
>> we are just about to get to question time but i would ask our panelists if they would like to say anything else before we go toquestions ? mister kershaw. >> god for the first wave on the day and the first wave in the pacific, i don't know how many djs in the pacific but americans alone in europe were six amphibious agents. that's five before, for before d-day and thentwo days ago , in southern france. thank goodness for all those uy guys in the first wave and all those amphibious invasions. >> i would remind the audience that a few weeks after d-day , a massive american fleet in the pacific landed marines on site and to begin liberation of the mariana islands so we were mounting multiple, major invasionsaround the world .
>> the second world war for you guys boiled down to one thing, it was landing craft, you have landing craft in the pacific and in europe . that's like eisenhower said that higgins, the famous higgins boat wasthe guy that won world war ii because he made all these landing craft . >> you have any final thoughts? >> i think there are many more war stories to be told about the second world war. you think the subjects exhausted and every year it produces books that break new ground and i mean, it's amazing the second world war holds our fascination. i guess only comparable to the civil war in this country but i'm actually a specialist in the cold war but i have to admit it doesn't have the same fascination as the second world war which seems to be inexhaustible. >> mister kleiner, any final
thoughts? >> know, just on what mister kershaw said, there's a wonderful story of what so many americans did at home and the story of the higgins landing craft in new orleans is the kind of ingenuity and industrial might the united states contributed to the war that was so important and there's so many wonderful stories of what americans did at home tocontribute to the war effort . >> if you have questions, would you please go to the microphone there in themiddle of the room ? >> the microphone at the podium in the middle. >> well is there a difference in the accuracy and degree of detail in the maps available to the allies in the european as opposed to the pacific theater -mark. >> wow.
i could bs, i'm really good at that but i do know if you look at the d-day intelligence maps, they're extremely impressive, very detailed in the period and we benefited from the eight air force in particular benefited from 3-d aerial photography. maps ook at some of the the air force used, you had three-dimensional scale so d-day was very good, very accurate maps.e 900 americans killed there, there were eight sectors and each rifle squad, each platoon new ywhere they were going and hadvery , very detailed maps of where the defensive installations were so we did a fantastic intelligence job certainly in the european theater, i can't tell you about the pacificbut we were very good indeed , great intelligence. >> we have another question. >> in your opinion if the u-boat war in the atlantic
wouldn't have been successful, do you feel like the war might not have progressed and europe wouldn't have been cut off from the supply lines? with doing u-boats. >> if you look at the normal atlantic in 1942, had the u-boat war campaign succeeded, then the launching pad for d-day, the launching pad for all of the american operations in europewould have gone down, you wouldn't have had a d-day . so yes, very critical time. the defeat of the u-boat minutes shows allies ingenuity and cooperation at its very best but it was an allied effort.i americans on the eastern seaboard , michael, i've written about that and you have to some extent and the british, we cooperated effectively on that. intelligence overseas with the decoding ultra was again,
far from the battlefield but show that we had, we could put our brains to the best use so world war ii, for four years, for you guys for years, almost as long as president trump has been in power. we want to work, three or 4000 miles from where we are now. and back in 1941, you had a federal law that limited the us army 225,000 men. it was a miracle, amazing. >> do you want to say something before the next question . >> i think the u-boat war, that's understood in the last few years why we won the u-boatwar which was the fact that we cracked the german code . i mean, why suddenly were all these u-boats being sunk in the atlantic ? it was because the us and uk new where the u-boats were bland they were able to sink them so without me cracking
of the german code and that shadowy intelligencewar , that simply wouldn't have happened. >> i think we have a final question from robert over. i confessed he and i were being baseball league team teammates, fraternity brothers and remake ole miss, robert is now a distinguished attorney. >> we have a local military history club meeting monthly so we do discuss some of these issues in all of our american war. on the technological side, since the flying tigers operation was covert, the day unlike the non-covert operations in the pacific and in europe have some technological disadvantage in getting up-to-date equipment, planes and having really the more modern state-of-the-art claims and supplies to work with in china mark. >> it's a great question.
the flying tigers as i said are set up as the covert unit called the american volunteer group and that the 40s were sent over inboxes on freighters and they were essentially on the wrong side of japan when pearl harbor happened so they were blessed with a century of supplies they had with them. talking to this last surviving mechanic with the unit, it's remarkable to hear what they were able to do to try and keep these planes flying when they didn't have many supplies, but the entire supply operation rein the china burma into india theater of flying home and having to get all of these supplies into forces in china by flying back in across the himalayas is a remarkable story and one of the more amazing feats that america accomplished in the theater during the war. >> we have time for one more question, if anybody wants to go to the mic question mark
if not, this has been a memorable and most informative session. please join me in thanking our panelists. [applause] thank you for an insightful and thoughtful talk. we stand adjourned. >> here are some of the current best-selling nonfiction books according to the new york times. topping the list is tara westover's account of growing up in the idaho mountains and her introduction to formal education at the age of 17 and herbal educate, on bestseller list for over a year. next journalist lisa taddeo
examines female sexuality in three when and then michelle obama's memoir becoming, the best-selling book of last year. following that is mark blevins critical to look at the media and wrapping up our look at the best-selling nonfiction books according to the new york times is the pioneers, pulitzer prize winning historian david mccullough's account of the early settlersof the northwest territory . watch them online at booktv.org. >> every year book tv covers book fairs and festivals around the country . here's a look at events coming up over the labor day weekend it's the ajc decatur book festival that takes place outside of atlanta and will be live from the national book festival hosted by the library of congress in washington dc. later in the fall look for us at the brooklyn book festival