tv Craig Shirley April 1945 CSPAN May 30, 2022 10:00pm-11:02pm EDT
visiting our website cspan.org/history. but we're so thrilled to be back open and to be able to have world-class authors and all around great human beings like craig back on our campus and i think most of us know that craig is one of the definitive biographers on ronald reagan. in fact the london telegraph hailed him as the best of the reagan biographers. but he has proven through books like mary ball washington citizen newton december 1941 that he's also one of the best historian authors out there. speaking of which i'm sure you all know. he's here tonight to talk about april 1945 is much awaited book to the previously mentioned december 1941. for me the book couldn't come at a better time. see the break-in library's next special exhibition is called the secrets of world war two and it opens on april 2nd. it's a collection of hundreds of artifacts from museums and private collections. never before seen together in order to tell compelling stories
of technological advancement creative problem solving and incredible human persistence under the backdrop of the world's. just a most destructive war in history. i quickly dug into craig's book to refresh my memory on the end of the war and to gain insight about what was going on around the world and those final few months. what i quickly found was a history book that read like a novel a book that covered the war and what soldiers were encountering just as much as a book that covered what was happening the homefront and abroad what average citizens were seeing and doing and even wearing it is a fascinating look into that era of our history. while preparing for our world war two exhibition i have had the distinct and distinct honor and privileged to interview a handful of world war two veterans heroes all but we also needed to speak with some historians to help provide context for our gallery videos of which those veterans videos would be played. thankfully we set up an interview with craig which we actually conducted right before this event tonight. so if you do come back to see our world war two exhibition not
only will you see the interviews with our veterans playing in the galleries. you will see our interview with craig. craig's an informative and entertaining walking encyclopedia on world war two which makes me even more excited to bring them up here to discuss his book. so let's get started. ladies and gentlemen, craig shirley. thank you, of course, so i mentioned to craig before this started that reading this book led to like 93,000 questions, which i know we're not going to have time for because we want to make sure we have time for your questions as well. so we'll try and get through some of these and if we don't get to one that you want to hear we will take questions at the end. so as i mentioned you have a book on new kindred you have books on ronald reagan you have books on, you know, mary ball, washington. you have a book on 1941 and now you have a book on 1945.
why did you not just write a book about world war two as a whole? attention. i don't think i know the answer is inspiration. one day. i just i just had this inspirational one day. there's been many many books written about world war two and they've been many many books written about december 7th. 1941. gordon pranks at dawn we slept is the standard by which every other book is mastered. it's a absolutely marvelous book, but nobody had ever ridden to best buy knowledge a book about the domestic side of what was going on in the united states during the month of december and how it radically changed because we change completely we change governmentally we change economically we change politically we change culturally we change every which way because of that month. and so i i pitch the idea to my publisher they like the idea very much i wrote it and took
three or four years to write it and it came out to good reviews and was in new york times best sell. so i didn't have a plan to write april 1945 after it was not part of my plan to write a companion book because in the interviewing time the next 10 years, i wrote several reagan books and new citizen newt and and mary ball washington and a lot of op-eds and things but it was just a inspiration that came to me that april 1945 is just packed with history. just every day is a red letter day. and so that was what after thinking about i realized that nobody again had ever in a book about that monumental month. well that actually leads perfectly into my next question. i mentioned this do you upstairs before we came down here? you know you covered there's a chapter on january chapter on february, march april and then beyond more so in january than the other months, but you literally are saying you know on january 1 1945. these are all the things
happening. yes in the united states in the world. and here's what's happening on january 2nd. and here's what's happening. january 3rd, how do you determine what you're going to cover? i don't know when i get up in the morning. i mean i have i drive during crazy because she says why aren't you writing? why don't you writing it says i tell her i said i am right i'm writing in my head. i'm thinking about it. i'm thinking about and then i sit down my computer then it all just like raymond chandler said, you know just throw up into your typewriter and that's what i do. i let it all out into my laptop and and write it that way but who's your question? right? how do you choose which of these events each time? you know i have melissa, i have a yellow legal tablet. i have a list of about 25 books. i want to write and it grows ever longer and the list. i'm going to expire long before the list does is that but you know, i right in the book for
instance about mary ball washington really got me interested in the 18th century. so now on a right something about not about valley forge, but about morristown, which was actually it was winter encampment by the revolutionary army and it was actually far worse than valley forge and this is not been explored enough. so i'm thinking about writing about the book about that, but i'm also thinking about writing a book about about bojangles and i got that idea actually bill robinson my father when he was a little boy used to go to new york city for the saint patrick's day parade and bill robinson would tap dance down fifth avenue leading the parade and that always kind of gave me goosebumps. and of course he was in all those shirley temple movies and all that and i thought you know, this is and then the the song you know got me by the nitty gritty dirt band really, you know his i've had in the back of my mind for a long time to do because nobody's ever done a book about bill robinson. so that's in the back of my mind.
so and i'm gonna write more reagan books. i'm working on two right now one. i'm editing and one. i'm actually and then i'm going to write about a book about about donald trump. so my dance card is pretty full. i'm lucky to remember to brush my teeth. i don't know. back again to the january chapter just because it's kind of strike struck me interestingly. you're going through each day and you're talking about things like christmas of 44 leading into january 45 christmas a 44 was like christmas sales shopping spiked by like 17% and as you're talking about a different months you're talking about what makeup women are wearing and what happens they're wearing and so we're americans not as concerned about what was going on in the world in the war. oh, no, they're very concerned americans. is that this nation has always been divided. we were the historians will tell you that during the american revolution as many as 30% they estimate as many as 30% of the
american people were actually opposed to the revolution. we're not unified at all and as a matter of fact to the revolution something a hundred thousand people left because they did not want to live under the well our than the articles of confederation. they went to british guiana. they went back to great britain and that right there is a book right there about 100,000 people leaving the civil war certainly was an annunciation of our divisions. is that the only time in the united states history where we've been totally united is the afternoon december 7th, 1941 and the for several months after september 11th, but even then that didn't last we're defined by our unit by our divisions. we've always been to buy we're divided about vietnam war we're divided about women's rights about civil rights about the environment. we're divided about everything and then we form consensus. that's the brilliance of the american system of government.
so this is a two-part question. you know reading this book, of course. i think we all are aware of what was going on in germany and the holocaust and and hitler and the nazis i think and maybe i'm just naive but i forgot about the brutality of japan they were they were i mean in your book or talking about how they would throw up babies and bayonet them for fun. you know what so i said to part questions, but what made it about that era and these leaders that made that acceptable behavior that the countries could get behind and then what was it about the japanese cruelty? i was shocked by it. yeah, i don't know how you explained evilness. i don't think rational people can explain evilness, but evil did exist and evil exist today in the world. is that the japanese were first of all, there was a shogunate culture a very masculine culture that had grown up over japan in the 20s and 30s and which led
them to want to create a militaristic government, you know, and you know, hero, you know taking over parts of indochina and they what led to december 7th. they wanted to have complete control of the central and western pacific without any interference for the united states. is that but they were absolutely horrible. there was a there's a story in the book here about a pacific island of polynesians and they were thought to be there were peaceful loving native, you know, and they were thought to be sympathetic to america. so the japanese knew this and they went in one day and they just machine gun everybody on the island just a little boy just blown away. they had a group of american navy pows. in the shogunate culture, you have to understand. is that the worst form of humiliation. is that one man can imprison
another man if one man can imprison another man, then he is not worthy. he is not worthy. he's worthless and they had this attitude, you know with with american pows, like for instance they had a group of american navy pows. so they marched out made them dig a trench in the sand marched down inside and then covered then poured gasoline on them and burnt and burned them to death and the reason it was verified. was it actually some escaped and got back to macarthy's forces and and told their tail about them being burned to death, but that was not unusual for that japanese culture that japanese government at the time. they didn't have the regard for life that americans did for instance. i say for instance a lot of sorry, is that if a japanese pilot was down in the pacific the japanese navy wouldn't pick him up. they just let them go they just let him drowned if an american
pilot was down in the pacific he was he was picked up as soon as possible they had much different regard for human life than than we did in 1945. sees i was cruelty of the nazis, but you also really talked about the insanity of hitler if i can use the word insanity. when it was march and april of 1945, and it was clear that the allies were going to win the war did hitler really think he was still going to win. was that propaganda? yes. yeah, he was he was crazy. anyway, let's face. it was crazy and we'd actually done the predecessor to the cia the oss had done a psychological pro. they hired a harvard psychologist to do a psychological profile made up hitler. i talk about the book here, but about all the problems all the all the screw up problems of this man what led him to be the
he was is that right to the and he believed his own propaganda, joe did the all the other nazi bosses leaders all believe their own propaganda even as an army their patents army was advancing the third army and the soviet army was advanced some of the east they you know, they were doing things they were cutting off food supplies for civilians. they were cutting off communications for civilians. they're doing they were taking it out in civilians here. they're taking from civilians and giving to the military to stave off the inevitable and but but hitler is right to the end believed his own lies. and one of the things that i read in your book that i did not know speaking of hitler is somewhere in here. it said that he was considering surrendering because he thought surrendering would help would help lead to world war 3. can you talk about that?
there was a great debate among churchill and and fdr whether or not we were accept surrender from nazi germany or whether we wanted unconditional surrender. we wanted them to we wanted to war trials. we wanted, you know punishment meted out to these thugs who would created this war in the first place. so there was the churchill was for unconditional war unconditional surrender whereas stalin was for unconditional surrender, but there were people around franklin roosevelt who were just for surrender just not unconditional. just let's get it over with you know, let's the wars the wars one. let them stay in power but there are others like for instance. i saw eisenhower wanted hitler deposed and and put on trial along with all the other nazi thugs which leads perfectly into
my next question, you know fdr was our first and only four-time president. i'm actually going to read this. he's a president that ronald reagan once called an american giant a leader who shaped inspired and let our people through perilous times. how critical was fdr's four terms in america's stance involvement and victory with the war all all encompassing he is, you know, john patrick diggins was an historian who since passed away a couple years ago. he was friend of mine. he was actually part of the free speech movement at berkeley and actually did battle with then governor reagan over campus protests, but he later this liberal became an admirer of brown reagan. he wrote a book called fate freedom and ronald reagan fate freedom and making of history and in this book this this liberal professor says that our four greatest presidents are george washington abraham lincoln franklin roosevelt and
ronald reagan because it makes the academic case because they freed or save many many people and that was a criteria. greatness was does a president actually affect the outcome for the betterment of many many people and i think you know, his criteria is pretty good. and so fdr, although he failed with the great depression unemployment in 1939 was the same as it was in 1933, but at least you gave american people hope he gave the american people hope and that was very very important. you know, he was trying he was he was capitalist, but he wasn't committed socialist or something like that, but he was willing to try whatever worked, you know, the wpa or the conservative the conservation corps or other new deal programs, but where he was really really masterful was as a war leader because he didn't interfere. he did what reagan reagan i think reagan. i i haven't researched enough but reagan believed, you know
way to assemble the governance you surround yourself with good people and then you let them do their jobs fdr had that same approach toward the war and if you think about it. all the brilliant men who had serving in wartime. he had eisenhower and he had nimitz he had king and he had patent and he had marshall and he had macarthur and he had so many others omar bradley so many other superb military leaders, and he didn't interfere he would meet with them. he would ask questions for them, but he didn't interfere. he'd let them conduct the war they saw fit and that was what his real brilliance was in in conducting the war of world war two, but you know, he was he was for all intensive purposes. he was not just president of states during world war two he was president of the world. he we were not only supplying the us service man, but we were surprised supplying the british service man, and we were
supplying the soviet service man. we were sending them food stops material and and uniform. things whatever they needed. we were supplying them. so he was he was running a global war, you know, he was coming to the varsity operator and churchill and style and were somewhat junior varsity. i know that sound conducted a brilliant not brilliant, but a a massive campaign from the east and many many russians died as a result, but but he still in terms of supply and and command he was still junior varsity operator compared to churchill compared to roosevelt. excuse me, you know, it's funny because you just said roosevelt was president of the world, which is literally my next question. i said in my question you called him in your book the president of the world. so when he passed away when he died which earth shattering to the world no, yeah, my mother god bless is still alive.
she's 88 88 80 9 8 9 89 grew up in the 30. and she like many other american children. thought we only had three presidents that washington lincoln and franklin roosevelt. that's what she thought and there was no explanation for succession when secession succession when he died. there was no explanation for well the vice president truman becomes president now, there's no explanation to hurt that she that she she you know young teenager, but is that fdr when fdr died flags in moscow were hung at half staff is it was a world shaking event people just couldn't believe it and of course, you know his tragic too. i mean, obviously that's always tragic but he was only 63 years old, but he was carrying the burdens of the world. it was he was obviously strickland polio so that had to
affect him healthwise and couldn't his circulation. he was a good eater, but he didn't eat salty foods. he you know ate a lot of butter and mud and bread and fatty foods and things like that. he had his fives what eleanor called his five seas, you know every afternoon or five o'clock. he would make himself, you know, none of martini, but old-fashioned or a manhattan those who was two favorite drinks and and he would you know, so he's drinking not drinking heavily, but enough to you know, cause damage and then he smoked two to three packs a day of built on this lucky's and in the yeah, i know yeah you filters lucky so, you know dead. yeah death on wheels and so all and the burdens of running the united states government and running the war and and he's got for sons in the military. oh and combat all endangered zones. he's got a wife who is not
henpecking him, but she is i have great admiration for eleanor roosevelt, i think. she obviously modernized the office of of the first lady, but she was also a very good person i think but she had she had her agenda and so he had to deal with that. so he's dealing with his family. he's dealing with his white house staff. he's dealing with congress a recalcitrant congress, you know, they didn't go and mark they didn't go in lockstep with whatever roosevelt wanted they often opposed him. so, you know, it's understandable in a way diet and everything else the stress why he passed away at age 63, but it was unbelievable. it was one of those things and i'll show up. it was one of those things where people know where they were when they heard it right? i know where i was on november 22nd 1963. i know where i was on september 11th. i know i wasn't alive on december 7th, but my parents
were and they knew where they were when they heard about december 7th, and it was same thing with fdr's passing was that everybody knew where and what they were doing what fdr died. respect for alice the head of several different government agencies, but it was more than that. she choose a one woman industrial complex. i mean she was writing her daily column called my day. she was doing radio broadcasts every week. she was doing morale and promotional tours us camps overseas and in the united states. she was also tending to her family affairs. she was all there wasn't anything she wasn't doing she truly truly modernized the office of first lady and but she did so i thought with a lot of
grace and charm, you know, and let's face it. she had a rough marriage he was he always trusted her he always she was his best political advisor, but you know his affair early on with lucy are mercer lucy rutherford rutherford mercer. obviously caused great damage to the marriage and i can't there's no written history on her finding out about franklin's fdr's passing away. he almost literally passed away in the arms of his lover and nobody knew if he consummated in any way shape or form, but he was down a little. yeah the little white house in, georgia. and his daughter i can and optical it'll come to me a memory of senior moment. but his daughter anna had it
surreptitiously arranged for lucy rutherford mercer to go visit franklin roosevelt in a little bit the white house behind her own mother's back. you know, she she but there's no written, you know fdr died everybody knew that he was with his lover including obviously eleanor, but there's no history on eleanor's reaction to that. she had obviously had been very very strong but like like the classy woman. she was she flew down to young harris or the little white house. she wrote the train back the birdman john which president reagan used me before she went to the funeral and hyde park she and she never ever betrayed her. lte to her husband, and that's just one reason why i do admire her. you touched about on this a couple of answers ago, but can you talk about the big three
there's a roosevelt churchill and stalin and critical. they were to ending world war two. sure churchill was one of the greatest inspirational speakers of the 20th century. and and the british people needed his inspirational leadership the the maybe there's a time and place for men and maybe he wasn't right for the position in an early era, but he was perfect for the position in 1941 and in the 1939 actually when germany attack poland, but no man, i know that i'm trying to think of the phrases of history about the right man at the right time doing the right job, but he was to put essential right man for the for the right job. he and roosevelt were very good friends. he's he said that opening.
he said that meeting fdr was like opening a bottle of champagne. he said that fdr was great britain's best friend. they were they were very very good. they got along he came to visit dr. several times during the war in the white house. they got along very well stalin was an outlier because of politics and because of his personal behavior, you know the way he behaved yalta and at potsdam was it was obviously off putting to both fdr and truman but fdr did allow stalin to gobble up parts of eastern europe and the warsaw pact countries at yalta yalta was interesting. i always wondered why they went along y'all too was a was a falling down vacation home for the russian sars. and when the communists came to power they let it fall under
ruin, but they chose it as the side of this important meeting which you decide what to do with the world after world war two. how do we divide the world? how do we handle the world? how do we manage the world? you know, they had this arrogant they could really run, you know, country that country or whatever, but you also had bad food. there was cold it was it was bad for it was falling down the bedding was bad. all this and fdr has to travel 12,000 miles there and church was traveled thousands of miles there and it's just a hike down the street there were for for stalin and he was the most junior member of the big three when you know, you would have said, okay, let's have the big three. let's have you also let's have it in miami beach, you know, but why they had it, you know ulta nobody's ever explained it added to me and it took a toll that traveling took a toll on and fdr to also as well.
how do you think president truman handled the end of the war? he always said in his diaries he had no regrets. he never looked back on dropping the bomb here. sure hiroshima and nagasaki. he believed fervently it was ordered just saved millions thousands had to die. i wish my personal perspective is i wish she had demonstrated the power of the above first to toe to hero hirohito it like in an open like open water test in tokyo bay or something. so you witness itself and see the see the what damage it would cause i wish truman done that first, but never he never looked back and obviously the most the his um appointment of eisenhower's supreme commander and eisenhower developed these
fears of influence over germany, you know, the soviets said this fear the americans had this fear the soul and it made a mess and it led to many the problems. in fact, maybe led to the problems of today. i'm analyzed it completely but on the other hand douglas macarthur's stewardship of japan who was brilliant. he should have won the nobel peace prize. he literally rebuilt the society the culture the government without any violent overthrower or backlash or anything like that is that he took over a country. that was just bombed out. we bombed it. the country was just destroyed and you took it over and rebuilt the whole thing and made it into a peaceful democratic country, you know, politically, you know constitutional democracy and that appointment by church. by truman was a very good one for what macarthur did? and in 1945 as concentration
camps for being liberated. what was the overall feeling from america and other ally countries when they saw the horror and devastation of what was in these camps, you know, it's interesting. is that some of the major newspapers? started in april 45 started reporting on these discovered death camps. and by the way, is that when you think of europe you think you know about world war two you think about triplinka you think of auschwitz something there were dozens of nazi death camps all over europe all over poland hungry germany, there were dozens of them. it wasn't just the big one. so ones that get the notoriety there were little ones too americans were so war weary after it and it was it was a crime so big and so monstrous a lot of people in didn't believe it just didn't have enough information. they just couldn't comprehend of
it, but the major newspaper so say before would report on for instance new york times reported on the discovery of auschwitz, but never just reported that was -- who were being killed at auschwitz that only came much much later. why the new york times did that and also by the way what the washington post did too is that these camps are being discovered and they never reported that it was that they reported the people were being. murdered partners was happening, but then it never reported. there was -- or homosexuals or gypsies or poles or russians that were being that were being monstrously murdered these camps so when news breaks that pretty close to one another that mussolini is executed and hitler's committed suicide and people believe this what was the like. oh, yeah. well we the united states for a period we believe that hitler had a we had all during during 30s and during the war hitler
had a double the look just like him a couples presley. yes, exactly. exactly. so we bought that but but when it was it was confirmed that it was he we know we were invading berlin. we were wiping out berlin renews in a bunker. we knew his days were numbered. so it just took it as i mean, obviously there's a great wonderful thing that he committed suicide but we took it kind of in stride. we took a lot of things in stride, i think because the war had had worn down in a way the american people, although we did create the united nation and we we united nations and we became forever internationalist country after world war two, you know, you think about today, is that if russia was invading ukraine in the 1930s, we would have been
the second thought we would not have so what you know, it's only the legacy of world war two that we care about even though we don't have we can't there's not demonstrable american steak in ukraine. but we're moving toward possible conflict there and that's a legacy of world war two. so i think my final question will be one that i actually asked you when we were doing this. pre interview upstairs. i really liked your answer. why in this i realized i'm starting this question, but why should we care about world war two? why should we still study world war two, you know the memory senior moments because there are lots of great quotes about the reason you study history. there's the you know, you study history or we failed to repeat it. he was a i can't think of his name. it's a hardware professor. but anyway is that we should
study history for many many reasons. first of all, it's fun second law is that we learn not to make the same mistakes over for instance. i'll give you previous example first mistake we've made over again and why biden didn't study unfortunately didn't study the history, but in 1979, jimmy carter was doing an interview and he was asked if afghanistan was part of our defensive perimeter and he said no and within months soviets invaded afghanistan is that joe biden a couple months ago was asked about our interest in or no. he asked about about ukraine and he said what a little invasion is. okay, so i'm paraphrasing here something like that. but but anyway, he telegraphed to putin he could make he could make the move without without cause for concern and so now he said obviously backtrack on that previous thing, but imagine if he'd been more careful with this
words how this might not have happened. so that's a good example. that's as good example as anything. i can learn i can think of about we study history to to learn from it, but you know, it gives us a sense of dignity gives us sense of purpose. it gives us a sense of where we belong it gives it, you know, we need to know why like for instance when the second continental congress when they were working on the constitution, is that the first men everybody knows about, you know, freedom of speech freedom assembly freedom religion, but at the jammed in there is freedom of the press doesn't really fit but it's in there because it not because the founders liked the pamper tears and tabloids at the time. they hated them they despised them, but they saw the
newspapers as a valuable ally of the american people against their against their government and so it's important that we know why we have freedom the press in this country today. that's great. so i have 93,000 more questions. but and if there aren't questions from the audience, i will continue to ask but if you have any questions, we just ask that you raise your hand. we are recording this so it's important that we bring a microphone to you before you ask your question. so if you have a question, feel free to raise your hand. otherwise, i'll just keep asking. we hold on one second. there we go. go ahead. what would be what if the world would have invited russia in tomato in the last 25 years. would it be a different world? it might be it might be i'm not an expert on world affairs. i can't do it deep answer for you. it might it might have been i if i'd been a position to invite them and i would invite them then, you know, it's always
better to have you know to deal with the adversary that you know, really the adversary. you don't know. i wish i could answer that question more fully for you, but but i'm not an expert on that type of. but i think you've really you're nodding ahead. so is the navy things will be better certainly after the fall of the berlin wall and the advent of the breakaway republics and and the warsaw pact is that is that i can't imagine why obviously is politics. obviously, there are people against it but bringing people in to talk is always i think he's always better than negotiate peacefully rather than you know being sent into war into, you know wartime, so, i'm sorry. i can't answer that better for you, but it's a good question. any other questions from anywhere in the morning? so i heard the good news there that you are going to write two
more books about ronald reagan. yes. yes. all right. that's pretty exciting. so, can you give us a sneak peek? sure. yeah. sure. well, first of all i say is that serene knows that you know doing all this that you keeping off the streets and all the pool halls. i'm writing i'm editing a book about reagan and grenada and grenade is significant because it's the energy time. it's the end of the time it's beginning of the end of the soviet union. it leads the straight line projection of history from grenada to the fall of the berlin wall. and then the eventual fall of the soviet union liberation of the warsaw back countries. i'm doing a book on also reagan the negotiated reagan the compromise reagan dealing with people on the other side, you know, whether or you know, like for instance picking george bush. he didn't want to pick george bush but he made the most sense at the time at the detroit
convention to producing unified ticket, you know, the republican party has more or less less than divided since the 1940s and with liberals or moderates and conservatives and you had eisenhower the moderate and nixon the conservative or lodge the moderate and nixon the conservative are so that continued that program where he had to reach across to pick bush to unify the convention unified conventions tend to win the fall and divided conventions tend to lose in the fall. but also he's tried to pick richard schweiker. who was then a senator from pennsylvania as is running late 1976 to try to win the nomination over gerald ford. i also is a chapter on the the briggs. amen. this is interesting. this is tells you the the
suppleness and sophistication of reagan's thinking was that in 1979 as he's getting ready to run for president one more time. there's an amendment in california called proposition 6, which the brinks of men and the proposition prohibited gays from teaching the public schools or advocating a gay lifestyle. now reagan needs the support of family groups, you know, their pro-family groups and things like that running for president, but this also offends his deeply felt principle about privacy and dating all those other things. so reagan was the only major conservative in california to come out against proposition 6 and in the summer of '79 it was winning two to one it lost in november by by two to one and john briggs who state senator at the time he was going to use this as a vehicle for national office and a back part.
he saw what anita bryant was doing in dade county and was going to kind of ride this issue and briggs was asked the day after why proposition failed. he says ronald reagan and that was it and reagan never suffered any political consequences fortunately for him family group still supported him running for president. so, but every chapter is on briggs on bush on schweiker on the screen actors guild on, you know, things like that. so, yes, sir. man, right sir. getting back getting back to the book in 1945. yes back in september 39 stalin and the russians invaded poland from the easterns portion as hitler came in from the west right? yeah by time 45 rolled around it seemed like stalin was much more
powerful in the big three that he had any right to be not only being a junior member but being the turncoat at the beginning of the war. he was part of the access powers. like what do you think by time 45 rolled around gave him that? gravitas with roosevelt and what churchill? you know, i'll try to answer it as it can is is that the soviets got a very very favorable press in the united states look magazine and life magazine which went out to millions every week. you can't underestimate their influence, you know, but they depicted soviet union as a worker's paradise is that you know, he he the moniker uncle joe was used often by the intelligence here. so he had a very even though he was million killing millions with his with his resettlement programs things like that is that he got very favorable, press in the united states. he had a lot of sympathetic
supporters. there were a lot of you know, it was it was not it was not if you called somebody a communist in the 1930s. it didn't carry the same heavy burden as if you called somebody a communist today. it was it was were i would say we were more open, but we were more on educated about the collectivism or the socialist philosophy. and also is is that is that you have the contrast is that it's down versus hitler stalin versus mussolini roosevelt versus hitler roosevelt versus mussolini, so he just he wins or by versus tojo he wins basically by default by comparison because you know what? this guy's even worse than this guy. so, i hope that explains it. yeah, i know. there's more questions. we're going to go back to you, but i just had a question something just popped in my
head. i got to speak with a different historian last week and he said something that i found really interesting and there are no other story and this author, you know called the stone together. he said something i thought was interesting. he said yes, we won the war because of normandy because he would because you know the atomic bomb right but we really won the award because of detroit and yeah, so in the american factories, can you talk about that sure know whoever you talk to is absolutely right? is that maybe you just stumbled into the truth? i don't know but is that three weeks immediately after december 7th roosevelt tells detroit. you're not gonna make any more cars and we didn't make any new cars for the duration of the war. people had to drive over my grandfather saying well, i bought that little sail before the war, but i sold it after the war. is that is that the roseville
administration nationalized a lot of industry including detroit they told he told troy he says you are not going to make cars anymore. you're gonna you're gonna become the arsenal of democracy and interestingly enough or miraculously is that within three weeks of december 7th 1941. we are taking fabricated parts from ford auto parts of ford auto body from fisher-price fisher auto body and goodyear and were manufacturing b-24s and b-25 airplanes. three weeks after and it's that that happened all over the all over the country all over the country calvinator was was a company in detroit that made women's you know appliances they made refrigerators and they made mixing bowl and and they made
what do you take cake mixers? yeah like that and again in a short period of time now that they're making helmets and they're making propellers for fighter plans, but it's like that all over the countries that this this country this company that is whatever you stop making you know this thing and start making that thing and then the women in the workforce as well. i yes. yes. yes, i think i told you before melissa both my grandmothers were rosie. the riveters one was a machine gun inspector. she would stand there and a machine gun machine guns would come down the conveyor belt and she'd pick it up and she'd fire like this and she put it down and the next one would come she picked it on fire. and that was that was her war work and then my other grandmother was a bomb inspector and i i have no idea.
what obama's but she does but she was bombs, but i never got a chance to ask her about that, but i certainly wouldn't want that that job anyway. but that there were women it was not unusual at all. in fact, it was very usual for women during world war two to leave the kitchen and go to the factory floor. they were doing it they were and they were also participating too is that there's a rundown airfield back there in massachusetts or back there in virginia, which is no longer news, but it used to be a refueling stop for women flying b-24 planes to europe. they stopped there that fuel up and then fly 3,000 miles across the atlantic to deliver a b-17 bombers to the american servicemen. credible yeah. yeah really was it is a time. i doubt we'll ever see again in the history of this country of
the world a google go back to the audience. i know there were a handful of hands. are there any other questions? he gently but let's bring the microphone here. one second. thank you. just a touch on your point about when well goodness participating, you know during the war professional. i know a lot of the women that play professional baseball during the world war two europe. yeah, that's right. i deal with that in this book too or months, and i have not read your book yet, but the four months they were off they all came out here, especially like santa monica airport. they were like you said riveting building planes doing this they all did that they all came from the midwest to the west coast vacation time, but they would do that 90% of those women did that dedicated? yeah and your military female soldiers. when they are discharged they became escorts to these teams.
they taught the women ordered discipline while playing ball, too. so yes, i'm glad that you expounded on that because the women did have a big part, you know a domestically yeah again back to my mother she grew up in the midwest and she is a child who went to see women's baseball in illinois. so yeah. writing this book and researching this book. is there something that surprised even you as you were finding out the different reasons a lot a lot as a matter of fact, i think about two three things right now. is that first of all bill buckley who is the founder of national view was a young was in the army at the end of world war and world war two. he was part of the honor guard for franklin roosevelt's funeral the engine. he said he's used his magazine
to bash the new deal and fdr for the rest of his life and he was part of the honor guard the second one. and by the way, this should be a movie is that serena and i we had a neighbor of ours down back in virginia by the name of -- snyder now -- snyder had a great story in and of self he was part of the only three year class of west point there was rushed out. into the war he flew of p-47s close air support for the dna invasion. he was he was shot down. he survived fortunately, but he was hid he was hidden in a belgian farmers of barn. and he was there for about three weeks before german patrols picked him up and he went into appear w camp and spent the duration of the war in the pierogi camp. before he left in gratitude he gave the belgian farmer's wife
his silk parachute, which is silk was highly prized. flash forward now 50 60 years later. is that his -- wife. mary was great surfer of the internet. she's elderly but she's very proficient with a computer and she comes across a story about a woman in belgium who is getting married, and she's getting married in a silk dress made by her great great grandmother of the parachute of an american pilot and this every woman in that family going down from the 40s right up to the present and warned that that parachute it worn that parachute that made into a wedding dress. yeah. yeah the third one too. was that how deeply fdr's funeral after hours death affected everybody. bob dole was was in the was in
italy and he wrote in his book about eyes in their box holes hearing them weeping over fdr's passing. so is passes is death affected americans very previously. we're almost out of time. i'm going to ask one last question and we'll go to the book signing as i mentioned in the intro. i've had the fortune of interviewing a handful of veterans, you know, 99 years young. they're right spectacular and a lot of them share the story that they were, you know, 15 16 17 joining the war and in fact one said he joined the navy at the age of 17 to learn how to fly and at the age of 17. he proved to be so proficient. he became a trainer he was training other pilots how to fly he was 17. can you talk about the heroism of these kids? is that the one who comes to mind obviously is my uncle is that everybody in my family and my family is not unusual. it just gave me a lot of ideas and inspiration.
is that my uncle ellsworth avett shirley? barney was shot down and killed. is 20th birthday in january 1945? he had enlisted what he was 17. he got his parents permission you could they had it was it was really messed up, you know about enlistment, you know, this is that the enlistments and the draft and the the ages kept changing and did you need parents permission or didn't but at the time if you were 17 you could enlist if you had your parents permission, but there were obviously a lot younger boys who were just, you know, telling you with a wink and a wink to the draft board. we're going into active duty is young as 15 years of age, so it's not unusual for literally boys to be fighting this war and when we were upstairs you shared i just thought that was really great. why they were joining. do you remember what you saw
sure? well, there were there. i'll tell you why there weren't drawing they weren't joining for the food because it was uniform formally mediocre there weren't joining for the pay because it was lousy. they weren't joining for the benefits because they were not existent. they were joining certainly for the camaraderie because everybody came back and talked about their friends and their buddies and things like that. they made in the war, but they're definitely enlisting for the patriotism. they wanted to fight and win for the country. and on that note we are going to thank craig for coming out tonight. because i'm actually holding a pre-sale. this is the book if you've not purchased a book yet, please go and buy one in the museum store right behind us craig and i are going to walk out and get situated in the bookstore and then he'll be happy to sign a book for each of you. so we hope to see you over there. thank you allwell today we're gn
talking about your 1864 and we're going to start with the action in virginia in 1864. focusing specially now today on the action in may in june. and the famous duel between ulysses s grant and robert e lee. the big showdown between in each case the best general that each side had i think this campaign has been more misunderstood and misinterpreted than maybe any other campaign in the civil war. i think the reason reason is because of expectations. you know today in politics you would see