tv In Depth Max Hastings CSPAN August 13, 2021 4:00pm-6:02pm EDT
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♪♪ ♪♪ >> the arrival of motorized equipment marks the end of the first phase of the landing. the micro the lci now on the beaches are up to the transport to troops and sure. ♪♪ >> that was 77 years ago today on the shores of france. our guests joining us from england, matt hastings read a book about the d-day battle for normandy that came out in 1994.
seventy-seven years later we have a different perspective on d-day? >> i wrote that book all those years ago i was able to interview a host of people, the americans and fresh and had actually been there. on the belief you should never take the evidence about anything. they do give you a feeling of how they felt just hard, while i was watching that, one particular guy, higgins, is a very articulate guy he landed on the utah beach on d-day and i asked him, before it all happened, this huge event, how did it seem to you? he said higgins in the bronx of
the age of 18, i couldn't get my mind around the idea and one is young, most of the guys you could see that but it was really long after it was all over they understood was one of the biggest events in human history. i think one reason d-day still has the anniversary percival, a lot of wars before and after people have had doubts this this, i don't think anybody really clouds the abilities but our guys were the good guys in this event.
it was right to take pride to achieve that. >> max hastings september 1, 1939, 2 things, was it a surprise and could have been prevented? >> it wasn't a surprise at all. when they wrote about it "afterwards", they said in 1914. 1914 it was a colossal shock you going through all the newspapers in 1914 and what's amazing after the war broke out there were headlines in the newspapers, they were about all sorts of things that throughout this route we were up with troubles
and it was a dramatic one. nobody in the end of july 1914 with see this huge catastrophe. an awful lot of people in the newspapers could see the proof in 1933 sooner or later. the democracies were going to have to take on that, they could see the were coming. there is a very slow one. they should have gone to war in 19308. i don't agree 1938 for a lot of people were so desperate to avoid or, still police goods bargain. most dramatically different in 1939 was the behavior that
everybody could see this was somebody who could not negotiate only could be dealt with post war. >> was novels way in great britain? >> pretty well. he's always been about who signed away in czechoslovakia. i don't think he was an impressive prime minister. i don't think he's an impressive leader but the leaders could only go as far as donations would allow them too. between 1939 and 41, all the way through united states rose about was anxious about the democracy to loose the work but he knew he had to carry the american people with him. until. harbor, he knew he could with
the declaration of war. the same that i have argued in my own book that was lucky he did not become prime minister in 1940 because he was able to get the disastrous on the battlefield including may 1914 and neville chamber, but churchill was able to take over without the blame and shame all the stuff he was responsible for. for he became prime minister regarding as a successful radical politician and minister, he was a great minister and did terrific things on domestic issues before 1938 but that was after becoming prime minister. he never did anything right and he was always the man who signed
the agreement that allowed them to take over. in a way it's been out there but the writing of history is under. >> max hastings book on winston churchill, finest years churchill in 1940 -- 45 came out in 2009. >> i may say, it's more than any other book i've ever written, etc. a trusted character, i really enjoyed every moment. >> has his reputation changed? >> what? >> has his reputation changed? >> curiously enough, i think today is more part of the united states than in britain but in particular, as you may know,
he's become entangled in supporting slavery and racism and so on. my argument always, story and what i'm trying to do all the time when i write about other. his to close my eyes think about how it looks past the 21st century but how did it look to them in the time period in which they lived? i wouldn't hesitate to say churchill was a racist, everybody in that generation was. he treated black and brown people with a degree -- not it's pretty ugly these days but so was all the generations before. one can't defend that. you can't say where trapped here, they were accurate. i want particular issue i had written about in my book a lot
of british troops were stationed in india during world war ii but the question was whether british would have to salute india and churchill wouldn't have it. he said a white man should defer to a broadband. these are terrible things to tighten our time but i think what's done now every historical character have to say nobody was perfect, you have to say did they do more good than harm? very strongly i would argue churchill's services and democracies were so great but they fire over hispanics. 1944 it was a disaster in which
you had millions of people starving and the british was ruled by them and he appealed to send relief supplies and churchill said they will have to go for what the british people have. the indians in those days were rash with anybody in britain and use the phrase that people were dying in the street while they were able to eat unlimited eggs and bacon. this is one of the most deplorable episodes and churchill's career but again, i still believe his great
achievement far outweighed the negative. there is a mood certainly that people paint on statutes of virtual to remove all of these to meet this is grotesque. we have to keep this. one of the hardest things in the movement that's going on with race and gender or political event in the past, very few things in life are plain and simple. it's the nuances getting lost in these ferocious debates and people are now arguing churchill was a racist and therefore his statue should be removed. that's childish. an awful lot of people are driving these movements, very
young. as we all did when we were young. >> max hastings is the author of about 30 folks most on military history. a former editor of the daily telegraph and evening standard newspapers and he is our guest on in-depth for the next two hours. next, you are born in late 1935 after the end of world war ii. what are some of your earliest memories of postwar? >> i grew up in the shadow of the work this huge space with the huge bomb site. they were still rationing, one member was especially sweet and
it was pretty painful. we were typical, i went say that we suffered but we had rabbits and pigeons and things because we are mostly in the country and once got used to everything was very poor. the burden alone on this in 1940, 41 while russia was the l.a. and the united states, it seems terribly unfair but that's the way it was. the other thing i spent the whole of my life since my childhood getting away from stupid ideas i had from my father and my uncles and
cousins. we've all managed to enjoy the experience, my great uncle made his first parachute jump at the age of 61 my father had done that, to and he was in a famous magazine, the equivalent of life magazine. he managed to enjoy the war, they spent most of my childhood that was my mother who would say to me don't listen to your father and uncle talking about the war. of course war is gossip, the united states and the world work because it was but britain also had a pretty privileged war and
i think one thing in particular when i started writing about was i thought it was all about soldiers but actually, soldiers although they are an important part of it, you would think for example europe, what it meant to be millions of women of any teenager with a gun as much as anything else but what women endured was something we haven't thought about but i have come to have more space because i've come to realize this, every soldier who in some cases manage to find the war exciting or adorable, there are thousands there's nothing enjoyable, i
believe we have to be willing to fight to defend the things we believe in but i also think one has to understand the support, nobody should ever get into a war without thinking about what they are getting into. >> max hastings book on world war ii, inferno are all hell loose came out in 2011. why the name change? the copy i have is all hell let loose but was it the american version that was inferno? >> the one we use was mostly around the world, what it encapsulated to me if you listen to veteran stories again and again talking about things in the battlefield they pull back
on that cliché and there was a it was let loose. i thought a lot about that to meet it encapsulate what happened. if you are a young man or a teenager you've been brought up maybe in a farming community in oklahoma or back streets of new york or oregon or whatever and you live a life of peace and you suddenly find yourself on the deck of a destroyer or fly in a b-17 for the battlefield in normandy and you see human beings literally blown to shreds before your eyes and you are expected to keep shooting and running and fighting, mercy all around you and the horror people
saw, all hell let loose was a phrase, vividly to encapsulate huge numbers of young men and young women experiencing in the work but i never argue but i did regret it because when i was trying to do with all hell let loose although the narrative of the war of what happened in 1939 and 45, it was a people's story i wanted to tell it from the bottom up and not from the top down but the specific idea was to show what it meant two different people because the war meant something different to the people according to the way you live. if you were in britain for
instance, you have the monotony of ration, the food was incredibly dreary during the war and you could explain how dreary it was but on the other hand if you lived there for almost two years, 800,000 people starved to death and a lot of people resorted to cannibalism to stay alive. everybody in britain complained about the food and public thought about eating each other. they were invaded by german. i believe britain was a western democracy, the people of britain have put their hands up and i think the same is probably true in america rather than eating each other, they were accustomed to terrible hardship until 1942.
the russians were accustomed to living in these conditions and starvation. i don't believe bmi can people would have faced as much as the russians did and again it was time to show these comparisons, the chinese, an awful lot of people have no idea where united states and britain lost about 400, give or take. china lost about 15 million and the sufferings of the chinese again i tried to bring them into the story because most people who study history would say if you study british, you don't
really get into what went on but i think in the 21st century the people who seem to justify going on writing books about that. it's not only a great revelation, can only great secrets but generations of scholars, look at it in a new way and perspective especially a new human perspective. >> all hell let loose came out in 2011, two years later catastrophe 1914. europe goes to war came out about world war ii -- world war i. first of all, similarities between the two wars, did you find those? basically, how did world war i start? [laughter] >> that's a huge question. let me go over the similarities first.
it has become a cliché the people in britain and america to say of course the second world war was nothing like the first the bottles more terrible than those of first world war and more casualties and world war ii. the russians were the americans were fortunate, it was only a relatively small number of british american troops and some submarine groups, to suffer terrible process especially in the first half of the work. the only campaign in the second world war and the same sort of expenses and everybody focused
on d-day on the sixth but the days and weeks that followed and the last again both british were pulling must much worst in the war but for most, the british and americans between the british been kicked out of france was june 1940 and d-day 1944. most of the british army, american army, it didn't get into action. june 1944 of course the russians had been fighting suffering terrible losses through the years so the real lesson here is when you get huge wars an awful lot of dying and killing is
going to happen before you reach an end. the only think you're arguing about is who is going to do the killing and dying. the british and americans were fortunate and world war ii that russians did most of the killing and dying as necessary. it was in science, especially the french but also the british. around twice as many people in world war i as world war ii but the world war i experiences with these attacks, they happened in world war ii but it was grandparents and parents who were lucky but most often that didn't happen on our side. your other question about how world war i1 arctic. i think it under line because
she was we now recognize great wars are terrible think. he want to think before you get into great work. one of the things that helped keep the world safe and alive was the crisis in 1962 was jack kennedy had read a fabulous book about how war came about in 1914 almost by accident. he was determined nothing like that would happen on his watch, he was determined not to find himself sliding into war. they were very enthusiastic and invading cuba. he knew of the huge danger
getting into hermetic escalation. in 1914 germany, especially was accustomed to regarding war is a usable instrument of policy but germany fought three wars in the proceeding half-century against denmark, austria and 1870 against france. should have been huge successes for germany germany was able to take those terms in the state but most of the senior officers has been the russian army was a german in 1914, they regarded more as a usable policy and the idea that they could see russia
becoming ever more successful economically and industrially and they were uneasy, they thought their best shot of defeating the russians was to fight a war in 1914 rather than holding off until 1960 or later for the russians it would have become far stronger. all people involved in 1940 it's terrifying is how few of them understood how a massively the horror they were facing. many of them genuinely believed we did have people cheering in the street in 1914. not many people would have who
were foolish enough to think they could see off to german but in 1939 generally most responded that the seriousness in this idea that it could be something romantic and exciting and all sorts of people should have known better with this terrible conflict without teach thinking too much about it. i don't think he wanted a big war but he did want a small war. his ally austria to invade serbia and crushed the south, he thought that would be a fine thing to do, he gave austria always called a blank check by historians. they attacked serbia and even
when the russians played it but they would support serbia. serbia germany went on but everybody watched this unfolding in these few weeks in the summer of 1914. they were not understanding the full horror of what they were taking on. >> you did not mention the assassination of the arch duke austria hungary which generations of americans schoolchildren have been taught that was the key. >> it was the trigger because it gave it on june 28. the curious thing was that nobody was much like austrian throne but nobody really liked it.
a lot of foreigners were amazed but the austrian hungarian on the assassination was the excuse they have been looking for to remove serbia and they were causing them all sorts of things. they were a mess in 20 or 30, different minority nations and all of these minorities were always constantly moving, seeking independent and they were desperately anxious over all of these different empires. they had things empires and all
of the others but they valued their empire and the hungarians went to war to preserve an empire most people would have told them they had no chance with anyway but they thought invading serbia was going to tie these things up and the nonsense and of course it reciprocated this huge war with germany coming in behind hungary and the russians coming in behind serbia on the other side. brent needed support and the germans whereby they took out friends before dealing with the russians so they told the french
they would only accept french totality in 1914 and they were never going to do as a guarantee so it was this progression of them up against each other and of course it provided the trigger but there were forces in germany and one we haven't mentioned is the politics of germany, the socialist and the largest party in the german parliament. socialists if they had really been in charge they wouldn't allow them to go to war but one of the generals hated the idea of democracy but another successful war just with what
was needed and we are going to talk about that. what they did with the readiness and were thinking that the war would do them some good. >> on top of this we have to remember nicholas the second was overthrown during world war i. >> bazaar was more sensitive that he never thought, he was very weak and he knew how fragile the russian empire was. he realized better than most people that russians were becoming engaged in a big war and he could bring down but he went ahead anyway because he was a weak man and those around him hated the germans, they thought it would not be and nicholas
probably saw more clearly than most what this could mean. he was too weak a man to resist but what is extraordinary is the work around it in moscow who almost didn't believe that this was the opportunity to assert russia's new power. again, this was the benefit but there they were and again there was all sorts of cheering in the street for moscow over this outbreak. >> sir max hastings, you're the author of about 30 books but to are very broad with world war i
started working with bbc television and there seemed to be a lot of wars in those days. i went to work including vietnam and pakistan that became increasingly fascinated by the experience of war and the more i saw and read the more i wanted to write about. it sort of became my life because ironic most of my books were designed to discourage people from going to war. but i suppose because i've learned about war i've been able
to draw on the experience. a british fleet across the mediterranean, terrible and those hot summer of 1942. 1982 i was a correspondent with the british task force and recaptured. when i was writing in the last year or two, all the time i was seeing in my minds eye all the scenes i had seen. nothing fancy, the ship sinking and planes shot down extraordinary spectacles, you could hardly believe the huge ships and you see these ships out there. all of these ways and the scenes
below decks and the way young men behave, all of those things having seen something about this in a small war by comparison of anything happening in world war ii but one has seen what it's like those memories are very much alive in my mind. >> just to give you an idea of military and civilian, these numbers are a little difficult to find and get completely, who will get tax hastings reaction to it but according to world population review and facing history.com, world war i9 million deaths world war ii 70 milli- at least from a korean for about 5 million and the vietnam war about 1.3 million. we are going to talk to max
hastings about some of the books, experience in the vietnam war as well but this is a call and program once a month on book tv on c-span2 we invite an offer to talk about his or her body of work from max hastings joining us from england this month on the anniversary of d-day. here is how you can participate as well. 202 is the area code for all members. eastern central time zone, call in at 748-8200. if you live in the mountain or pacific time zone 748-8201. if you are watching from the uk and you would like to , feel free to call in on either one of those numbers. if you can't get through on the phone find and would like to make a comment still, send a text. this is for text messages only. 2027488903.
if you sent a text, include your first name and your city so we can identify you that way. also, facebook, instagram, twitter, you can make comments there as well at book tv as our handle and that's what you need to remember. we will begin taking notes in a few minutes but max hastings when we go back and that these numbers 9 million in world war i, 70 million, are those pretty accurate? >> all the numbers are guesstimate for for example, second world war and china and the most commonly used and they are trying to inflict that further. nobody really knows the sense of
who lived in what areas. british and american and german on those and a lot of the nations, i mentioned earlier in the 1944 we think around 1 million died but i can in that magnitude, nobody really knows the only people who believe are the people who give exact numbers and pretend they know but they don't. take for example people with casualties in normandy that you know who died in normandy often nobody knows which day they died
because casualties were pretty confused and those first days so in a lot of cases you know roughly how many people died on d-day but you don't know exactly, quite a few people having died sometime between june 6 or ninth or whatever. the difference was seven numbers giving you the magnitude and in the same way one thing i like to cite that i think is very important, all of us historians who write about this stuff we are making a stab at what happened. if you ever see all the books, definitive's history or this is definitive, throw it straight in the bin because there's no such thing as definitive. we are all searching for truth and it's incredibly difficult to
arrive at any full truth, as an approximation of truth because a lot of reports from even world war ii for example, right away in the american british army, nobody is going to write an official report the 22nd infantry run away and they're going to say a lot of the stuff with british units i mentioned amphetamines came out of the woodwork for years and it felt like you can't say that. of course it is amazing how many men and women, to but not everybody is a hero. we are all making our staff at
the truth but often we get it wrong. >> one of the small statistics we found in all how let loose, he reports that more people died crossing the street in london because of a blackout killed by that. >> is not literally crossing the street in london. that is true, and another statistic, and ironic one was in 1944 he began raining rockets and they were knocking out more french and dutch people were killed by allied bombing that british people were killed by the weapons in britain so that
is another typical irony of the war. you can make a case if you left all the lights on there would be a difference in britain anyway. it's one of those things america was very fortunate, nothing depressed the british people more than that five years of those blackouts, especially with that. >> april 29, 1975, where were you? [laughter] >> i was very scared, a young reporter in the compound of the u.s. embassy. i had done a lot of reporting in vietnam, i was one of the least distinguished reporters at the
time but i had spent a lot of time there and once it became plain that we were seen the last, i wanted to see it and when most of the americans were in vietnam fell out and evacuations the morning before, i said that i would stay at the arrival at the base and there were probably about a dozen other journalists who stayed. all the americans went, australians and british reporters and so on but around lunchtime, they were shooting around the place, we have seen one shot down while we were
eating breakfast, there was shooting going on all over the area, what one was more frightened of, one was scared of anarchy, a breakdown of all of them and large numbers, bitter about being betrayed and thought it was gary being in the city after everybody else was gone. around lunchtime on that last day i was in the agency office with another british reporter and as we were going out he said to me, he said i think the next 24 hours in the city are going to be pretty uncertain and i thought i was terrified.
that afternoon i could see helicopters going in-and-out of the u.s. embassy compound and i just figured i was gone, i just didn't have the nerve to hang on and see this thing out so i trotted to the embassy and there was a great crowd and i pushed my way through them, submarines of the embassy helped me over the wall and later that evening i got on one of the evacuation helicopters and it was a moment that showed me the truth about myself, sometimes i would like to think one would do the brave thing. >> neville from cleveland, ohio.
you are on with military historian max hastings. >> my question is, what is the way historians write about a war when their country loses? for instance, how do german and japanese historians write about world war ii? what is their perspective can mr. hastings give me the name of any authors names? >> thank you very much, sir. >> that's an extremely quick question. there's a terrific different, i can't give a specific name but what i can say is that germans have written exemplary books about her. for instance, official history
that was produced in the institute is recognized by all scholars that's quite outstanding objective with all of germany's relatives in world war ii, all the horrors. the japanese i'm afraid i'm at it from a different angle, very depressing that the japanese didn't want to go there, all of the important scholarly work is done by american or british writers i'm afraid the japanese with the war especially about behavior in china for japanese schools are regarded by westerners as a travesty. they just don't want to go there. there are some other countries, it's interesting friends is the only major belligerent on the ally side that's never produced
an official history of the war because even to this day in 2021 french would never agree on the whole business in collaboration with german. all the important work in french behavior during the second world war was done by american historians. it is a pity but french doesn't want any part of it. it varies very much from country to country but without hesitation, the germans, i could reach around to the shelves behind me and come up with a string of books by german scholars. the japanese or all mentioned. >> max hastings has been armageddon the battle for germany 1944 -- 45, that came
out in 2004. donald, new york city, good afternoon. >> good afternoon. good afternoon, mr. hastings. i want to thank you for participating in the day. here's an 82nd airborne jumped out -- also the german army when hitler was invading czechoslovakia, was going to stage a to and they would if britain and france supported them but they didn't. you think this would have made a big difference if it had happened and why didn't it happen also, the british journalist said after the war's uprising 1944, churchill became
as much an appeaser to stalin as chamberlain had been to hitler. i'd like to know what you think about. >> thank you, we are going to leave it there, that is a lot of information. >> that is quite a mouthful. it's a difficult question whether there was a realistic aspect of the german army before the war. i think the best historian is probably, probably the best account of it. it was no doubt he was opposed to hitler but the german army most support him and i think it's debatable whether there was enough support before the invasion to overthrow but my favorite historian, he says the
night july 1944 and all the german resistance, we rightly honor the germans who did opposed it and did their utmost to get rid of it but what is amazing is the way in which they were supporting. i'm afraid it would have been difficult to get rid of the divide of the intervention in 1948 or 39. i am doubtful. on the other hand, one thing never discussed his it could have been if somebody had killed him. they came very close to success infected change history churchill, most western
politicians likely had a deep prejudice against the assassination and other leaders. i don't know about the missile crisis and always seemed to me one of the most difficult things of american history to come to terms with, the fact that an american president, especially kennedy thought about moving from is a dangerous course started on assassinating foreign leaders are not sure, i think the world would have been very grateful if they had succeeded but i am still not quite sure whether western would have been well advised for this. your question about the war rising, it is true churchill was
much less diluted about his ability to negotiate but it's perfectly true that it was a vanity of churchill, churchill believed the power of his personality could create a working relationship with stalin. possibly never existed churchill was foolish to believe there was a threat. also became very bitter in 1945, at his funeral, he was so bitter that he wouldn't support him but you are right saying this for quite a long time between 1941 and 44 churchill diluted himself with a working relationship with stalin. this was never on it but one of the most fascinating parts i
read in the pleasures national archives, may 1945, churchill was so bitter about the soviet take over at he told the chief of staff repair a plan quote name operation unthinkable. or liberating with i think 44 submissions of the british and american armies and remains in the british army in the whole idea is ridiculous but prime minister planned for this you must. indeed in the national archives, they had operation unthinkable to drive them out but of course when america talked about this they said under no circumstances
must the british people would never have supported churchill going to war with the russians. workers previously they were the great liberators and it's an extraordinary story. >> do you think roosevelt held in january 1945 during the conference three months prior to his death affected his ability to negotiate? >> there is no doubt at all was about was a sick man at the time but i am afraid i think some historians believe they handled it very different. i don't agree, i think it's the russians. if we wanted a free eastern europe and a free hungary, we would have to get there before the russians.
if they had have what they have helped germany win the war? >> guest: the answer is although the general was quiet a human being and mussolini and stalin he also had a better sense of self-preservation and he was supportive of the action but he was terrified of the world may be that the world may be would blockade spanning keep them from getting resources.
it would be an unbelievably bloody and destructive war. what franco was overwhelmingly afraid of was hanging onto his own power. it was a tangled story of why he didn't come. one rather bizarre aspect to this is that franco thought he might come in if was willing to give in. the colonies in africa morocco and algeria but at that stage in 1941 when franco was bargaining with still have hope that france would become a full idle -- ali in the war. he wasn't willing to give the colonies to franco said that was another reason. franco gave all the support he could and he said up with
division to fight in russia but he didn't take that last step. i personally believe there is a scenario. my favorite story in -- historians is don't waste your time on it. but i do think in 1941 instead of invading russia flied -- flew the british out of the middle east. he could have seized spain and started a real navy. he could have taken us. troopers. it took a couple of divisions to reinforce roe mullin africa. if that had happened it would have been militarily disastrous
for him but i think of churchill had lost it britain's position would have seemed too many british politicians especially conservatives who didn't like him much anyway. churchill wanted to keep the war going and tried to make the best piece they could so yes i think if spain had come in germany would have committed the resources which could have done and if he had delayed invasion of russia by a few months or year than i think they'd see things much more difficult for the western allies but fortunately didn't pan out that way. >> host: that speaks a little bit to your most recent book "operation pedestal" the fleet that rattled to malta, doesn't
it? >> what i'm trying to do i'm a bit -- to do for cute block bluster books like vietnam but instead i'd tried to look at specific episodes which can tell about wider things. i've never written a whole hook about the real navy which i think was written some most effective fighting force of world war ii just as the u.s. navy was americans best fighting force. i latched onto "operation pedestal" which was one of the biggest naval battles of the war in the west. in 1942 it also lead to starvation and the british would bring several convoys through the island that failed. the battalion had 600 aircraft and they got new boats and a
fleet and the predicament looked pretty desperate and he was told if they couldn't get supplies to them by december the 300,000 population couldn't and islanders have to surrender. some people at the top of the royal navy and the british armed forces they thought if that's the way it's going to be, that's what it's going to be. in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter that much. at that time a lot of people still got the russians were going to defeat them. stalingrad had not been thought and they thought we have lost a lot of stuff already, so what? he was in 1942 and deeply in battle. he knew that many americans and many russians after seeing
riddance defeat on the battlefield it was an opinion poll in the summer of 1942 that i quoted them one might ask. inevitably when americans were asked who they thought was transversal in the war after america the second choice was the chinese and the third choice was the russians and the british came in and the belief in america was very widespread without all these defeats. the british army itself was optimized in a rush that there is same feeling that stalin told churchill he said your navy runs away. of course they defeated and it broke and up most of the ships and most of the ships were
american ships. in the beginning of july there was a disaster and the whole credibility of britain as a fighting ally was at stake and at home in britain churchill was personally in battle. people were saying well all right he talks a great game and he's always talking about pictures but all we are seeing now is defeat so the british army had to surrender to a smaller japanese army and another british army had to surrender to a smaller german army and the british people after 50 years of war were feeling the solutions. and churchill decided against it but to lose malta which was the jewel in the mediterranean crown would be a disastrous road for
the paramilitary and the whole empire and so he gave the orders to the real navy that supplies have got to be run to malta at any cost and they knew a chance to get merchant ships through they would have to have airpower and carriers. britain had lost four carriers in the war and only had seven left, smaller than american carriers. four of those carriers for out of seven were committed to operation pedestal along with two battle ships seven cruisers and 30 odd destroyers and eight submarines and the ships in the beginning of august 1942 would dispatch to the passage of 40 merchant vessels to malta and there was a three or four day battle which is one of the bloodiest naval battles in the western war.
and sometimes they weren't sure if they were going to find themselves engaged or not. the ones who sailed with if we knew they would have to fight the battle of their lives so they did. but the first day august the 10th after they had into the mediterranean nothing happened. the weather was gorgeous as it always is in the mediterranean that time of the year and some of the young people of the fleet started to think maybe this is going to be a -- well they didn't think that any more after the next day august 11 because they were in the middle of a fly out from one of the carriers being sent to malta. suddenly everybody has this -- here's his terrific noise and they look over to one of the other carriers and they see the carrier eagle had been hit by
forteau pitas by a german u-boat and eagle began to topple and topple and topple with planes falling onto its deck and hundreds of men falling into the sea. eight minutes after eagle was hit there was nothing left except the bubbles and all the debris and a lot of bobbing heads of men in the water. that was one of the seven carriers gone. after that everybody knew that this trip was not going to benefit and the second day they started they knew from first light that it was going to be really rough and a new m. by five or 6:00 every man was exhausted. the fighter pilots were excited.
they've been flying all day and the gunners on every ship were exhausted. they had expended enormous ammunition into submarine had quite a few more have driven off so by 5:00 the british were thinking well it's been a terrible day but we are still here. the worst that happened is we have lost one merchant ship that was damaged by bombing but all the rest are still intact. around five or 6:00 on the 12th of august the next 24 hours the royal navy suffered disastrous losses in the war but the formation of dive bombers ascended on the carrier and the whole of the fleet thousands of men on the other ship watched as
this dive bomber descended off indomitable. the rain of power and one comment two, three fall and exploded on abdominal ball and the whole ship was shrouded in smoke and fire. after what they had seen happen to eagle the previous day they thought my god there goes another carrier. miraculous lee the signal blinked from the indomitable situation. the ship could no longer fly off the aircraft and it was badly damaged. the admiral in charge looked like he had lost to carriers said he was spared that. but the last stage they felt they had no choice but to order
the carriers, the remaining carriers and the battleships to turn around and had to malta because they were getting so close. they couldn't convoy the merchants on that last day so the merchant vessels were left to be escorted by another admiral with his cruisers and a destroyer. but i'm going to interrupt you there max hastings. that's a little bit from his newest book "operation pedestal" about the british navy and malta. let's get our callers involved in let's hear from mike in lakeside california. mike, thanks for holding and you are on with author max hastings. >> caller: thank you booktv and thank you mr. hastings. my question was about the end of world war i and i was impressed
with the candor about the various parties and what they thought about getting into world war i. they are coming out of world war i and woodrow wilson started the league of nations and i think it was maybe the french politician that said even the good lord need to take commandments which was pretty good and also i think it was maybe a british or french politician said about the end of the war there were 20 million, too many germans and so would not sign the treaty to quit. let's go given all that you are saying there what is your conclusion about the end of the war? >> caller: just a little bit of tender from the same spirit of mr. hastings about the british. i think perhaps lord grey and some other characters decided to butter up president wilson and
contribute to that myth that the league of nations was his brilliant idea all by himself perhaps. let's go mike in lakeside california. >> guest: i could keep you here all night if you brought a sleeping bag. i think the short point to make it was never good way to become a cliché to say that the versailles treaty was a disaster. there was never going to be an easy way to call an ending to sign the treaty after war that had destroyed three empires and let an enormous legacy that the allies did manage to screw it up conference of late. they didn't occupy germany and they left germany.
also germany was virtually undamaged by the war. germany had suffered almost no damage at all and it was very easy for the german right-wing to develop their theme after the war that germany had never been defeated and just stabbed in the back by a bunch of socialists. the allied decision to make germany -- this brutal treaty or apparently brutal treaty close to president wilson his involvement. he was repudiated by who was determined not to get involved and because the united states was the only one that voted well from its moral authority and diminished the united states
might have been able to exercise some effective influence in stabilizing europe and preventing the outbreak of world war ii. the americans, many americans hated the experience of being in fault in world war i and that was popular sentiment in america and not wanting america to get involved in europe's troubles but by far the best book is a slander which is a brilliant study of what happened in versailles. it was never going to be an easy way to get out of world war i and if you study germany whatever we got ron and whatever the western allies got wrong germany, if germany had been the
victor world war i germany was essentially going to rule the whole of europe. it would have been far more brutal. >> host: let's hear from carlon charlottesville virginia. good afternoon, carl. >> caller: thanks for taking my call. i know you're not a fan of -- but i have a question concerning the vietnam war. the johnson administration not expanded our involvement with combat troops in vietnam in the mid-60s it's easy to identify the positive consequences especially for the u.s. but i just want to know if you've given some thought to what the negative consequences would have been had we not been more involved in vietnam and the south had fallen in the late 60s instead. just your thoughts on that if you don't mind. >> host: thank you sir.
>> guest: i personally believe it would have served the interest of the united states very well to stay completely out of china but i said in my book the fundamental reason is the other side one and i think the north vietnamese regime was a regime. after 1975 when they won the whole war they won ultimately because they were vietnamese and not communists. the vietnamese don't like foreigners and they don't like foreign rule. all the way the saigon regime with proceed those is just that but it was well-known that the generals in saigon couldn't get out of bed in the morning
without the americans telling them which side to get up. when i was writing my book one of the creepiest things that was realized that if all the meetings in washington to discuss policy that vietnamese were never advised to attend the meeting. all the way through the south vietnamese who i interviewed for my book said all the way through the communist could always tell if you are occupied people. if you are occupied by these people and i'd don't think it was a good way for america to be involved in vietnam. the best thing to do is to stay out of it. >> host: richard in ventura california please go ahead with your question or comment for max hastings. >> caller: i think it's very
appropriate that you are on today. i personally attended the 40th anniversary of d-day beaches in 1984 when i and i was in england in 19 too when i became acquainted with you by your accounts of the falklands war and all of your books are a great reads. >> guest: thank you for your kind words. >> caller: you are more than welcome. since you do the new york review of books have you any comment on the world war i and world war ii books by sean mcmeekin especially his new book stalin's war which has just come out and i am reading. >> host: what do you think of richard? >> caller: well it's a revisionist history blaming stalin and saying in effect he was in the beginning and he was then at the end defeating the
japanese in manchuria and a lot of this was really directed by him even as much as. it's an interesting case and i was wondering what you had to say about that. >> guest: i'm afraid i very much dislike getting personal with my fellow historians but i have to confess i'm not a admirer of his book. i think in all of his books he takes interesting point and carries them far too far. i'm afraid he's a sensationalist and he wants to say something is going to make headlines. in his earlier book about the outbreak of world war i he argued it was entirely russia's fault because russia -- and he was a bit right.
i think he wildly overstated his name and i have talked to some of my fellow historians about his latest work on stalin and they think there's a considerable measure of agreement that he just pushes some of his ideas far too far. in his search for headline grabbing material i'm afraid i'd don't rate it like you do some of my fellow historians. whenever we have another booktv we ask him or her their favorite luck and here is what max hastings reported the guns of august by barbara tuchman's the young lions by irwin shaw at dawn we slept gordon pranked the london observer by raymond lee and eagle against the sun by ronald spector all american
authors. currently he is reading a book called aftermath life in the fallout of the third reich 1945 to 1955 by harold llamas. we have a text message about barbara tuchman and it says in the guns of august barbara tuchman describes how the french general staff in nord the threat from the german army marching into france. what is your viewpoint on how this happened right here in washington d.c.. >> i'm a huge admirer of barbara tuchman. a lot of scholarly historians say -- but she had a huge influence on me because i was young when her book was published in 1962 and a lot of the stuff she says is right. the french general started
planning for the war, a it was fantastically inept and misread everything the germans were likely to do. the french were accessed with the attack and the french were committed themselves to the major offensive. further south. i think barbara tuchman was absolutely right in my judgment about the french general staff had no idea what they were doing in the planning before the war. >> host: we have about 30 minutes left with their guest sir max hastings military historian writing for the daily telegraph.
>> guest: my contribution to writing for the newspapers and books one should never think either that i'm a better historian or that anybody -- is one of the silly british things. of course we'd all like honors if anybody gives them to a spaceflight winning literary prizes and that's a matter of luck. one doesn't make too much of them. >> host: who nominates you to be a sir and do you get knighted queen herself? >> guest: that's all very exciting. the prime minister of the day
which was then tony blair and i became very critical of tony blair but if i hadn't been knighted in 2002 i doubt that i would then knighted. you go down on one knee in the queen taps her on the shoulder with a sword. my grandchildren if they are interested will be able to see it but it's a big moment. i'm a passionate admirer of the queen is a lot of british people are and it's a big moment. i won't said didn't amount to anything a month -- one of the most exciting days of my life. >> host: and you figure a big fan of the queen are you a monarchist? is that a correct term for you? >> guest: i guess i am a monarchist because when i think
of people in britain it's not the power that the queen has what does she never uses any way but the fact that she denies that power from anybody else. i think it's going to be a time when the queen dies which is liable -- there far more amount of elizabeth-ites than the institutions of the royal family. the royal family will not have gone unnoticed in the united states. it's had some pretty bumpy times the last two years and certainly the time of the monarchy's very serious troubles in the late 1990s and i spent a lot of time there at that point in the late 90s when they feel the
whole monarchy was -- it would be a mistake to think that anything was forever but at the british people would turn against the monarchy as is always possible in that century kay could go remarkably quickly. >> host: in the middle of all these military history books you have been writing and editing the daily telegraph and the evening standard they both came out in 2010 called did you really shoot the television, family fable and i want to read a quote from there and perhaps you would like to expound on this a little bit. quote my mother's capacity to make me quail remained undiminished. she was in her late 80s when i told her that i respected her decision to leave her entire estate to my sister but that i would love to have had one of her good pictures. a year or two later she telephoned and mentioned that picasso drawing that i had always liked. would you buy to buy it she
asked? i choked. i said to my wife penny, if i murder her i shall plead extreme provocation and no jury will convict me. >> guest: i wrote a book of memoirs of my childhood. my family were all risers at the free generation they had very exotic lives. so i wrote a book about it. it was perfectly true that we have a program on bbc called -- in which you were interviewed about yourself and the record should like to take with you. what i did 30 or 40 years ago i had always admired my mother enormously as a writer but i had never gotten along with her. when my mother did she didn't hold back anything. she talked about all the awful things i've done as a child in
my father who brought back a lot of guns from the second world war and when i was 10 or 11 or so i've when my parents were away with play with them and it was a miracle i didn't shoot anybody. there was one occasion when guess somebody came up to me at a filling station and my mother had been on desert island and they said did you really shoot the television and i explained it was a very small set but nonetheless i'm afraid yes i did put a hole in our family television when i was 10 or 11. it was not my finest hour but it's one of those stories. come from a family of eccentrics but one of the reasons i'm so keen on gun control is i don't believe people like me should have access to firearms. >> host: ron is in arlington, virginia and you are on with max hastings.
>> caller: sir hastings it's an honor to ask you this question to speak with you for a moment. what i'd like to go back to his when he first started talking about nation-states and their doctrine of attack using war as the main instrument of power and in 1914 at that time and culture and the political forces i'm interested in your perspective and insight into now, today's time using history and the present time and are we on a path to go to war with iran? do you think that america and maybe israel itself is on past to go to war with iran based on political forces. senator cotton statement and the past administration or maybe even china as they see they are misreading what might be going on and i'm interested to. >> host: let's get to sir max hastings' take.
>> guest: this is a huge issue and i've been writing a column on some of these things things. one of the best things we have going for us is in the nuclear world all the sensible powers realized that were would be an absolute catastrophe. i am in no sense a pacifist. the best way to avert a war is to breathe prepared to fight one after having written the strong-arm forces but i'm often writing articles for british newspapers saying that most of our european allies don't take security seriously so we need strong-arm forces to deter war but on the other hand all my experience aboard both as a writer and seeing it first-hand is one should be desperately careful about going to war and i
was a member before the invasion of iraq in the streets of london one day they were making preparations for the invasion into iraq and i said how does it look? he said well getting to baghdad is going to be -- but they don't have any idea what they are going to do when they get there and that was an extremely -- remark in the same thing with iran. iran poses a very serious threat and the rulers of iran but i'm not her slated that invading iraq offers any good outcome. so i think one has to exhaust -- is always better than world war.
i think one would take a different view if this are realistic prospect that let's say airstrikes might take out iran's nuclear capability. i think there's a good case for this but everybody who i trust said it's very unlikely airstrikes could be successful in knocking out their capabilities so i think one has to be very careful and use a combination of diplomacy and sanctions and also the possession of force and once that before one resorts to the use of force. i think war with iran would be a very serious step for the west. was do you mentioned tony blair earlier when you got your knighthood that you are acquainted with the current prime minister, aren't you? >> guest: i'm not an admirer
of the present prime minister after working for 10 years with the telegraph. i'm afraid our relations with europe were poisoned with his policies and we are going through a very unhappy time when i think the democracies generally are short of talented people. it's very hard to say why good people don't want to get involved in politics but boris johnson in the end i'm afraid i don't think it's a serious person and i wrote three or four years ago that johnson achieved his ambitions to become prime minister but forsaking his claim and i'm afraid nothing has happened to change my view about that. it matters less to the leadership of the united states matters far more than the leadership of britain. the middle sized country and no doubt we will muddle through
somehow that what matters much more susan chars the united states. the united states must always believed in the west and we in europe everybody who i respect look to america for moral and strategic leadership and unless america takes the lead nothing important gets done in the world. >> host: is it fair to say sir max that britain is punched above its weight for several years? punched above its weight for several years? >> guest: britain has tried to but i don't think it really does. i'm well aware americans have always been fantastically polite in their dealings with us but i'm very conscious of that. i think most americans deeply
regret britain's rundown of its armed forces. most americans privately in high places in washington think we lost her sense of direction and i would agree of them. punching above one's weight it's very difficult to justify britain having to seize on security accounts. but we are there in everybody has to hang onto it. >> host: david and rochester new york, good afternoon. >> caller: good afternoon. it's an honor to speak to you sir and i have all your books in my library. i have but couple of quick
questions and one leads to the other. i've been collecting for years a series of books published in the 70s in england called the ballantyne illustrated history of world war ii and there were a lot of great pictures and photographs and some of british best sister in to the wrote for them including sir michael howard and also sir john keegan and i was wondering if sir john keegan and his book the face of battle which talks about the many historians have said it's the first book by a military historian to emphasize the common soldier as opposed to the generals and the tactics and everything. i wonder what your 10 enough that is? thank you very much. >> host: thank you david. >> guest: i totally agree. he was a close friend of mine and he changed the way that we
look at military history. military history was overwhelmingly about which division went this way in which went that way. he wouldn't thank me for saying this but it remains his best and most influential book and it made us think about the reality of what war is like instead of just thinking in terms of numbers. i think all of us who have followed john writing about the history of war which i was like to say i write about history of board and not military history we all owe a debt to john because he showed the way. i think his book, i reread it quite recently in it still reads fantastically well and is a very thoughtful book.
he looked at all the sort of things like what battle was really like. not everybody is a hero in any given battle. probably about a quarter of your guys say okay charge and a quarter of the guys are there with you and half of them will come along behind another quarter would never get out. that's not surprising. it's just the way that mankind is. john got down to the nitty-gritty of what fighting means and how people behave. i think we all elect terrific debt and my eviction for him is enormous. >> host: john tiegen appeared on "in depth" in 2003. use the search function at the top of the page and type his name in their and you can watch that full interview.
sir max hastings how was your world war i book different than his world war i? >> guest: from john keegan? i wrote a book about something very specific which was the outbreak of the word and john were the book on the history of world war i but catastrophe, my book what i tried to do was to look at the manner in which how the war started and what the first battles were like. there's a phrase in churchill's history of the war the world crisis where he said no period of the word matches the extraordinary excitement and extraordinary sensations of those first days and weeks and i thought this was so indict quite often get loathsome when people say to my going to write others about 1915 and 1916?
i felt i said all i have to offer about 1914. for instance a lot of history in the past was terribly nationalistic whether written by americans or british. i think nowadays we all try to get away from that. we all tried it say things in the trust. for instance i like to think of the little british army in france in 1914 as a sort of major factor and yet the british army that fought in the beginning of the war in belgium in 1944 battalion where the german and the french and even the belgians had more troops in the field than we did. i got fascinated by it and everybody thinks 1916 in the battle was one of the bloodiest
periods of world war i and it wasn't. it was the french army that suffered the heaviest losses that anybody suffered in the whole war in one day and i wanted to tell all those stories. i had never read any of the other books. >> host: alison north las vegas, nevada. hi al. >> caller: it's an honor to speak with you sir. two quick questions. the german generals in world war ii they wrote a lot of books thing if it wasn't for constantly butting in it would have been a lot better and that kind of stuff. my second question is the state of the british navy today how would you rate it as a seapower? >> guest: on the german generals of course yeah they sort of had a bit of a point because i often heard a lot of british veterans are still alive
today and some of the senior officers whom i interviewed in the 1970s and the 1980s, they would say i can't think how we would have won if they hadn't been on our side because they made so many ludicrous decisions to help the allies. the general's accounts were entirely subservient and explain it would have been all right if we'd left it there. i think they went along with those decisions to invade russia even though they should have realized that germany was simply not powerful enough in the german army was not powerful enough to take on russia. russia was so fast in resources so i wouldn't buy the view of the german generals -- they have could have one. i think we made a huge mistake by committing to two enormous expense of aircraft carriers.
i think their way out of our range. whenever carriers is about to sail to the south china sea with eight f-35's on the deck instead of the 20 or that they are supposed to be taken when the whole thing was planned. we can't afford anymore and i'm afraid the carriers virtually the whole royal navy has to be deployed to provide escorts for those carriers. it was the pentagon's office 15 years ago that is very speculative with the sea to sea missiles and so on. there were far fewer platforms but -- i think the realm maybes not well configured stay with us
huge distortion of these carriers. i have my doubts if they are ever going to be deployed in if they are a bookbinder soaks yourself up against the chinese that think we could get a shock. >> host: nine minutes left in our conversations with max hastings. ann arbor michigan, please go ahead. >> caller: mr. hastings i am and awe of your understanding of the details associated with these different wars. i'd be interested in your observations of two generations that many americans have. one is world war ii was an extension of world war i. the second is that since the vietnam war over the last half-century we have had one of the most peaceful periods in our history and perhaps the history
of western europe. >> host: thank you, tom. >> guest: let me say the second one first. again the british historian was my mentor. one of his phrases that he often used he said he used the word piece far too much. the greatest of stability and the president of foreign relations think we are living in such a dangerous time because stability is out of the window. those were very unstable times and there were certain days during the cold war but you find in awful lot of notes from people on both sides. you could predict what the
soviet union might do. there were huge uncertainties and i do think it's a very frightening place and statistically international organizations are also coming up with statistics showing fewer people died by violence each year which not what the headlines suggest at all but i do think these are dangerous times and i think stability is very elusive in the time in which it exists. i have forgot my first question was. >> host: is about world war ii. >> guest: i think most historians agree that one has to look on world war ii as an extension because really it was a long german war but on the other hand i also i've said it
written in one of my books that i think we would understand world war ii better if we called it world wars to because everybody got into world war ii for different reasons. the japanese were there for different reasons than the germans and they call that world war ii. the fundamental you have to say in and this was germany's attempt to secure domination of europe and the second one after the first one the big difference was in 1918 a lot of germans were willing to believe -- where is the greatest italian war correspondent wrote in april of
1945 he set in germany i found no great sense of guilt but an absolute sense of defeat because of the level of destruction that have been imposed on germany and the germans were in absolutely no doubt in 1945 knew they had been defeated in a way that they weren't in 1918. >> host: rachel and springhill florida, hi rick so. >> caller: hi can you hear me? let's go we are listening. >> caller: thank you. hello mr. hastings. i like that you mentioned nuances. i know about stuxnet and such complications. my question regards more culture however. this idea that men have evolved to make war of the mail warrior hypothesis that men have a propensity for heroics and that
war has provided competitive advantages. but also to keep young men off the streets generally. i'm thinking of lionel tiger's book many groups among others, war is a platform for organizing young men into battle. it may be a naïve or feminists questioned or impossible to answer. guess who i can answer it, i can answer your question in one sense. one of the big changes in my attitude is that i grew up in a very male-dominated household were all the men as i mentioned earlier had somehow been dashed that they enjoyed world war ii and they grew up with the wildly exaggerated idea of the importance of physical -- i wasted a huge amount of time. shooting with the army and going
to wars and so on and so forth but the older i've gotten and the more i've come to believe an awful lot of young men possessed physical courage which is rather exaggerated it has become very useful and warp it actually think moral -- is more important and women often have that i'm not saying anything that i haven't said this well but is taking me many years to see this and i got back in my teens and 20s when i thought being physically brave as the highest virtue in implication is that war can be a very corrupting force to young men and i'm afraid he can be. >> host: let's hear from one last caller in torrance california. you are the last call today. please go ahead. >> caller: thank you very much i'm please to speak with you mr. hastings.
i'd like to ask you this, before he died president kennedy intended to have 1000 troops withdrawn from south vietnam and then of course he was killed and that directive was not carried out. do you take that as some sort of a sign that he would not gotten into the quagmire that lbj did and secondly if you were lbj what would you have done to end that war in a way which you would have thought would have been satisfactory? >> host: thank you and i will tell you max hastings you have two minutes to answer that very large question. >> guest: the quick one on kennedy we can never know. i personally do not think that kennedy would have gone out of vietnam because his thinking was directed toward his re-election campaign in 64 and he repeatedly said there are just so many concessions i can acknowledge in one year and hope to secure the
election. and would he have 100,000 troops, we can never know is the answer. i don't think lbj ever had good options. the first option probably was to cut his losses and get out as soon as possible after he took office. he felt we had enormous -- and he didn't feel able to do that. the test of american foreign policy and that period may be and there were quite a few periods of history is to serve domestic american political -- in accordance with the best judgment of the president of the day. i don't think lbj ever had a good option. that's probably the worst option. >> host: for the past two hours we've been talking with
best-selling author and military historian and former editor-in-chief of the daily telegraph and the evening standard max hastings. there is his web site and his latest book "operation pedestal" and as he noted he's working on a book on the cuban missile crisis so we will look forward to that. sir max thank you for the past two hours on booktv from england. >> guest: thank you peter for having us.
at that very moment when the capitol police officer told they are going to take cover stood up and i was on the second level of the mezzanine and represented those art from years on the was objecting to the arizona slate of electors and at that moment i simply shouted out at the top of my lungs, this is because of you and i screened it. >> this is because of you. >> i think representing four years of angst and anxiety and anger. many of us saw this coming from a mile away and i think they represented millions of americans who felt the same way and at that very moment the entire country including myself recognize the fragility of our democracy. i've great appreciation for the traditions in the congress and the decorum and i did not want to violate it but i do not
regret it. it was what i was feeling and it was four years of pent up anxiety about what was transpiring in front of our eyes. we'll also hear from democrat jaime raskin orion pet fitzpatrick of pennsylvania by january 6, fuse from the house sunday at 10 eastern on c-span, c-span.org or listen on the c-span radio app. >> host: annette gordon-reed are we that exceptional mace mason we often tell ourselves we are? >> guest: we are trying to be. >> host: in what way? >> guest: i think there are a number of people in society who are working to make the ideals of the declaration a reality the idea t