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tv   Book TV In Depth  CSPAN  August 23, 2013 8:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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know what they're getting in to. the benefit and risk. and decide whether to participant. that's how we make advance in medical research partnership between patients willing to enroll and investigators who have new idea. >> host: i want to show you statistics that come out in atlanta. do you have anything to do? >> guest: we worked closely with them. >> host: do they work for you? >> guest: we are sister agencies within health and human service. we work closely together. >> host: this is 2011 statistics on the screen there. it shows the number of people that died in the united states 2.4 million, and the death rate. life expectancy now is 78.7. in0 faint more -- this is what i want to show. heart disease 597,000. cancer 574-473.
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that number -- those number on heart anquan cert. haven't they been there forever like that? >> no. they are way too high. heart disease, we have seen death from heart attacks, dropped by 60% by sporting research going back to the framing and -- that started sincety years ago. basically laid out what are the risk factor for heart disease. we didn't know we discovered high cholesterol, smoking, all of those which were unknown as far as risk emerged. out that have came a lot of development in public health. the development of -- very much something that nih
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research lead to. and a variety of other intervention including the ability to unclog arteries to the heart when it happens. 60% drop in deaths because of that research. we need go further and have idea about how to get there. cancer certainly way too many people die of this disease. actually the death rate has been dropping about 1% each year for the last fifteen years. we are on the right part of curve, we want to go down faster in these new development particularly with cancer genome are making many of us optimistic we could move to a very new space in term of designer drug therapy more effective than the standard approach. >> host: how much is diagnostic instruments and ability to see the disease before it develops too much >> guest: we need have three things. we need to have better prevention method to keep people from getting cancer in the first place. and certainly here we have to work harder on how to come up
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with behavioral research that will encourage people not spoke or if they started to smoke stop that. it's the single most actionable cause of cancer we still have not succeeded. 20% of people in this country smoke cigarettes. that is clearly putting them at enormous risk. >> christopher smoked a lot. is that what got him the esophagus cancer? >> guest: heart to say exactly. he was a heavy smoker and heavy drinker. his father had cancer. environment pulls the trigger. he may have had both. there's a fellow i work with here who smokes. i chide him about smoking. yesterday he sent a link to a woman who is 100 years and smoked all her life as if to say it's none of your business. i'm going live to be 100. how much do you know for sure
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that somebody who smokes or that cancer -- smoking will definitely cause cancer? ? >> guest: that is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt has been now for thirty years. the fact people are denying that really means they haven't had a chance to look at dat. the data leaves no doubt about the conclusion. there are a recent pair of papers in the new england journal of medicine. somebody who is spokes lifelong lost ten years of life. ten years. >> host: every single one of them. >> guest: on the average. this -- if you smoke but stop at age 30 you get most back. ..
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c-span: did you ever smoke wax. >> guest: i never have. my mom smoked a pack a day and then she quit in two years later she got lung cancer and she said to me i didn't get lung cancer because i smoke because i quit. >> guest: cancer grow slowly and when someone is a diagnosis of cancer that cancer probably started six, eight or 10 years earlier but it takes that long for that one cell to acquire the ability to grow to be enough of a mass that you can detect it so
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i'm sure her cancer started earlier than two years. c-span: there there are several sides of.your francis collins and one of them as is we have footage here of you at a graduation at the university of michigan back in 2007. were you giving a graduation address? >> guest: i was. writer lets look at dr. collins back in 2007. >> so this is a song which you will recognize the 10 and probably after take day you never again want to hear it. [laughter] and i've got to tell you this is a rush playing my guitar at chrysler arena. whoa. [laughter] will somebody please lock the doors? i don't want this to slip away. so this is a song for you of the student experience right here in ann arbor except for the last verse which is for me. as a genetics professor.
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so here we go. ♪ ♪ i came. i bought the books. ♪ follow directions. ♪ i worked. i studied hard. ♪ made lots of friends that had connections. ♪ i cramped. they gave me grades and may i say not in a fair way. ♪ i'm much more than this. ♪ i did it their way. ♪ [applause] c-span: why did you do that? >> guest: goodness i grew up in a musical family and music with has always been for me that nice sort of right from the
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seriousness of life whether it's a joyful spot or a silly song or even a sad song. it's a way to use another part of your brain and relate to people. as a medical school professor at the university of michigan i also discovered medical students are not so easy sometimes to keep interested and it helps to have something a little surprising so that song originally was one i would sing for the medical students when it seemed like they were starting to read their newspapers or go to sleep or maybe just not show up to class at all. c-span: you were homeschooled for how long? >> guest: until the sixth grade. my mother a remarkable women who had a masters degree from yale where she met my father would. unusual in being at graduate school in jail in the 1930s. she decided that her four sons, i'm the youngest of those for, would be better served by her
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educational methods rather than the public schools as the family traveled around north carolina and long island and virginia. i think she was right area she was remarkably gifted in providing that spark that you really want to see education represent of the love of learning. i love to learn -- love learning because of the way she introduced me to topics. it was very chaotic area to. c-span: what was a day like? >> guest: it was totally unpredictable. there was no lesson plan answered by no curriculum standards. my mother would basically say okay what's interesting today and some days it would be mathematics and we might do only mathematics for a few days in a row because it was interesting. and then we would sort of get hired and she'd say let's talk about history. let's read this very let's talk about what the significance of that event was. she was a playwright and she also was interested in language. we did a lot of sort of studying
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of languages and she would say okay here's a word. do you think that's derived from greek or old french or latin? after a while i got pretty good at that. i looked at in the unabridged dictionary to see what the answer was. c-span: where was this? >> guest: a small farm in the shenandoah valley. my dad at that point was teaching at the local college, teaching drama but he and my mother really liked a simpler life so they bought this farm in the late 1940s and tried to kind of live off the land. that didn't work so well so was a good thing he had a day job in college. i grew up on this farm. it was hard work in the summertime to manage all of the livestock and crops but it was a great way to grow. c-span: had your brother's been homeschooled? jaczko yes, sir all four of us. c-span: what happened to the other three? >> guest: they turned out okay. my older brother talk for a while and got tired of that.
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the next brother is a businessman and my brother closest to me is the assistant headmaster of the collegiate school. c-span: at what point did you get interested in chemistry or biology? >> guest: i was one of those kids who like to have it chemistry set and like to blow things up. but it was a dabbling thing. it was really tenth grade and by that time i went to public school. we moved in town and my grandmother had a stroke and we went to stay with her. my mother decided she had had enough of this. it was a great mix because i had heard foundation of love of learning but then for science i had public school in stanford virginia a teacher john hauser
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taught chemistry is absolutely inspired me to see what science was about and let me to believe that was what i wanted to do. my first class gate each of us a sealed blackbox. there was something inside of it but we didn't know what it was. he asked us to think of all the experiments that we could do to try to discover what is inside that box without actually opening it. it's a perfect metaphor for what science is all about. and i have never been challenged that way. all of my classes that dabbled a bit in science we were memorizing stuff and descriptive parts of the crayfish. i wasn't so interested in this but this was use your brain. it's a detective story. there's an answer. whoa that sounds like what i want to do. i decided right then and there wanted to do this. c-span: how long were you an atheist and why? >> guest: i grew up in a home where faith was not important. it wasn't denigrated. it just wasn't considered all that relevant so a psychomore
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adjusted in science and majored in chemistry in college and went off to graduate school and studying quantum mechanics that became more and more of a reductionist. anything of matter could be reduced to simple physics and chemical. surrounded as it was in that standard model that most people took anyway. i the time i was a second year graduate student i was an atheist. those who express that interest i really didn't think it was worth even talking about. but then something happened. i changed my scientific direction because i discovered i had kind of missed out on the excitement of biology. dna was coming along and there were principles in biology that sounded pretty interesting. a rather strange twist and you could call it a real career plan i decided to go to medical school.
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c-span: where did you go? >> guest: the university of north carolina. c-span: prior to that you got a ph.d. and prior to that? >> guest: by this time i party had been married and had a daughter. this was a lot of things to pack into a few years and then to go to medical school. i landed at chapel hill which was a wonderful place to learn medicine. i embraced that science immediately as sort of what i had always been looking for. the part of medicine that particularly appealed to me maybe because of my attraction to mathematics was dna, the genetics that underlies human biology. so i became very attracted to that even as a first-year medical student. c-span: back in 2006 you spoke of politics and prose bookstore about a book you had written. let's listen in on what you have to say. speaker is how it works for me. i do believe that god created the universe that amazing flash
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of energy 14 billion years ago that screams out for an explanation about how could something be created out of nothing? i believe god did that creative action with the intentions not just to have some rocks and some gas floating around the universe but with the intention to have creatures come to martin willis diversity creatures including one special type of creatures with whom he would have a relationship and that would be us. i believe that god chose the mechanism of evolution in order to accomplish that old. c-span: i looked for the strongest criticism i could find a few on amazon where they have all those reviews. just want to read a paragraph to you and get you to react because you have got a lot of positives but you've got a lot of negatives too which i know you are used to. this is not assigned. the customer back in 2006.
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one would hope that it would be immediately obvious to collins that there is nothing about seeing a frozen waterfall no matter how frozen, that offers the slightest corroboration of the doctrine of christianity but it was not obvious to him and it will not the obvious to many of his readers -- that's the end of the sentence. if the beauty of nature can mean that jesus is the son of god then anything can mean anything. so what is it like as a scientist? to move to christianity and then to get slapped around by people on amazon? >> guest: let me back up a second and try to reflect on what that waterfall comment was all about. as i said i went to medical school and i emerged medical school a believer. how did that happen? a lot of it was sitting at the bedside with people who are facing the end of their lives.
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people who talk deeply about the issues of life and death and realizing that i had not thought deeply about them and not up to the evidence. i was supposed to be a scientist who made decisions on this basis. atheism is a natural conclusion of searching for evidence i began my own search somewhat reluctantly. i realize that probably atheism is the least rational about the choices given that it says i know so much that i can exclude the possibility of something outside of nature namely god and i don't know much of anything that's outside of nature. on first principles atheism seems ruled out as a potential system that a thinking rational person could adopt. obviously thinking rational people to adopt it. agnosticism on the other hand words like well i don't know, to is a defensible position but to me it was sort of a copout. what i began to realize is there are arguments that have been put
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forward down through the centuries by people much smarter than me that lead you to the conclusion that the belief is in fact more rational than disbelief although it is not provable. therefore over a couple of years of wrestling with this am beginning to recognize that the world religions have a lot in common but there's their something very special about christianity as a person of christ and that's historic a well-documented that became somewhat against my own best interest as a scientist a believer. c-span: have you ever doubted that? >>guest:oh sure. everybody is a believer has had their doubts. it was paul till it that said dowd is not the opposite of believe it's in a lament of belief. doubt is a good thing because it gives you a chance to figure out okay what do i need to dig deeper into. how have other people understood? >> guest: . c-span: what impact has it had
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on you in the scientific community that you are acknowledging yourself as a believer? >> i'm not that different. 40% of working scientist recent polls would say belief in a personal god with expectation of an answer. that's not hypothetical deist, that is the us but scientist don't generally talk about it. what i have done is to write a book and speak about this because of the desired particular to help those people wrestling with the issues to see that there are ways to approach this year the comment from the reviewer about the waterfall is an easy one i guess for people to say oh he is being irrational. that was simply my own story at the moment when i decided to take the lead. c-span: how did that go? >> guest: it was influenced by particularly beautiful scene of may chair but that in no way proves there's a creator behind it who has an intelligence and that mind but it was a moment of sort of having all the
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distractions that get in her way of thinking about it so for me that was the conversion opportunity to. c-span: where was that? >> guest: that was in the caspian mountains. reich of whom were you with? >> guest: i was there with a friend and we were on the way to a genetics meeting and we took an extra day to explore the height of the cascades which i've never been to. riker to the friend know you were having a conversion moment? >> guest: he had no idea. [laughter] it was a very personal, is something that i was not sharing. c-span: what did you do when he had that moment? >> guest: >> guest: i have this fleeting sense of personal commitment and realization that i had crossed a bridge into the coming -- becoming what i thought i would never be a believer in a personal god. c-span: was there anything else going on in your life that might've helped to get to this point? >> guest: i think this
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realization as i was a physician that life and death is all around you and this is really an important question. this is not something to put off indefinitely as i had maybe planned to do. as a scientist i was looking at all these things about how nature works and how biology is wired but what is more important question than is there a god? that seemed like it was one that needed an answer. c-span: did you ever have any conversations with christopher hitchens where he might've changed his mind at the end? he was telling us he wasn't going to change about his belief. >> guest: i made no effort to confer with christopher hitchens at the end. i felt that wouldn't be respectful with the situation he was in. who was i serving the part of a physician to someone had cancer. it would be inappropriate to use that moment to impose my perspective on his. we had interesting just being back and forth about our
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perspectives much of it rather humorous. c-span: how close to death were you able to talk to him? >> guest: i was seeing him quite a lot until the last three months when he went to texas to be with therapy and never got well enough to come back. in those intervals i did not see him much. c-span: lets go back to nih. how big is the campus? >> guest: it's an amazing place. it's about 320 acres in bethesda maryland. on that campus there are about 17,000 people. amazing people. five or 6000 imap doctoral degrees and they are experts in him everything you can think of from every aspect of the six lanes to the clinical research. we also have on the campus the largest research hospital in the world conquest, 240 beds and the people in that hospital are there because they are part of the clinical trial approach to understand the disease that we
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currently don't have a good answer for. but again will that's an amazing place a minority of the funds that nih is responsible for get spent there. the best maturity, 85% go out in our grants to the best and brightest at stanford or university of illinois or massachusetts general hospital or all over the country where those visionary things are happening. we are on this remarkable pace right now accelerating knowledge about how life works and how disease works. it's really a remarkable moment. c-span: in a given year that's like $26 billion. how do you control with? how do do you know that the people aren't ripping you off? there have got to be people that have not gotten us money and done anything with it. >> guest: our system is pretty rigid, not rigid, rigorous. if you want money from the nih you have to write up a grant proposal putting forward what
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you plan to do for the next three to five years and defend that would be useful when it's possible you might actually be able to do it read you send that grant and. it has been reviewed by a panel of experts in your field in the most rigorous peer review system in the world and they then look at a whole bunch of grants that came in that cycle and they give them a priority. at this point we only fund about one out of six so if you come with an idea that's not very well take you were not going to get the dollars. you are the best of the best when you get that award. c-span: can you pick up the phone and call one of transit suits and sale wanted you to give tom smith is grand? >> guest: absolutely not. that would be the end of my career. it would be totally inappropriate. the way it works there's a second level of review where a council which are very senior experienced look across the whole portfolio and say you know
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we have an area here that doesn't have enough going on. this grant didn't quite make the cut but i think we should fund it anyway and we have this area over here where we have a big pile up and maybe we don't need the 19th grants on angiogenesis so maybe that one we will let go. if you're one of the lucky ones and you get funded and you have to report to as each year what you have done with that and those progress reports are read and if you are deviating dramatically from where you said you were going down some pathway that is in a the prep it you will hear from us. right of the 27 institutes and centers which one is the biggest? >> guest: the biggest is the cancer institute. right behind that is the infectious disease institute which oversees hiv aids in my behind that is the heart lung and blood institute heart disease and lung disease, blood diseases. not too far down or others like the diabetes institute for aging us to take the mental health
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institute institute and on down the line. reich is speaking of diabetes you a couple of times appeared on the steven colbert show and here's a clip. there is a connection to diabetes here from a show a couple of years ago. >> three years ago i was 30 pounds heavier than i was. >> you were super. i didn't want to say it. >> you now i started to realize i was at risk of diabetes and i did not want to get that disease so with the change in diet and exercise, can i show you what i lost? i brought a little prop along. >> you what is that? >> this is called. isn't that lovely? that's five pounds of. i lost six of those. >> you lost 30 pounds? that looks delicious. [laughter] c-span: my first question my saw
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that if you stack up six of those where would you put it on your body? >> guest: i was pretty good at packing the stuff away so it was not obviously in one lump. it's all over you and that is one of the things i guess that makes us shocked when he realized how much gaining weight is packing in. it's depressive and that is why brought that particular showing. rieke why did you go on there in the first place he could as you know he often skewers people. >> guest: really? i heard that traded part of my job is to be an educator about medical issues and health. colbert reaches an audience that probably wouldn't be watching a lot of the other things that nih is doing as far as public interest messages. colbert kind of likes to bring scientists on because he has sort of got an inner geek himself so it was a great chance to talk about our national epidemic of obesity. resulting in a national epidemic of diabetes here this came along
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right at the point that hbo was doing a special on obesity a powerful four-point -- four-part series that we had a big role in helping produce. it was trying to raise the national consciousness through the colbert vote. c-span: from all appearances and this is a shallow statement about to make it doesn't look like a the nation is getting any thinner. 's go it is not although you can look at some examples where progress is being made and learn from us. in particular interested in some cities. for instance philadelphia where the mayor has decided it's an issue for their community. if we are going to make inroads we have to look at this as a community issue and not just blame individuals struggling with their weight. that means thinking about providing safe places for people to exercise, a bike lane and thinking about the food deserts and what to do with them. better efforts to do something about school lunches which
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oftentimes it not been particularly ideal for the nutrition our kids need and a lot of the problems with obesity in children. all of those things in many ways are local issues that communities can deal with. we can solve our obesity problem by doing any single thing. we can simply do it by educating people on what they should eat or changing national policy. it's got to be everything. c-span: why is this such a heavy nation? >> guest: it's a combination of things. it's been growing on us literally over the past 30 to 40 years. some of it is the addiction to screen time instead of outdoor time which is greatly reduced and some of it is the food has become calorie rich and very cheap. some of it is the things that we put in our mouths that are anti- calories, sugary soft drinks for instance which give you basically know nutri to value and don't suppress your appetite. that is a big issue that has grown. right to what you think about
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what the mayor of new york is doing? >> guest: i think the mayor is conducting useful it experiments to see whether it's possible with government policies to try to encourage public health changes that are going to be better for nation and save us health care costs. he gets accused of being heavy handed but you know if we are serious if obesity is threatening to make this the first generation where kids don't live as long as we do a sync like there's a responsibility. c-span: how tall are you? >> guest: 6 feet by 4 inches. c-span: how much did you way when you started your diet? are you still 30 pounds less? >> guest: i still am. rieke where did you get your way that you had to lose at? >> guest: i was a junk food addict, honey muffins anything with sugar and pastry was something i could not pass up to rieke for how long? >> guest: for most of my adult life.
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i thought it would be good for me to assess my own disease and we are discovering the heredity part of diseases like diabetes and it turned out my results suggested i was at a higher than average risk for diabetes and that was part of a wake-up call that made me decide to do it. c-span: who can have a dna test? >> guest: their companies on the internet and you have to be careful at looking but they are offering them with their truth in advertising is. you can have your dna analyzed for a couple hundred lux and give recommendations about what you might want to do. write a how can you find out which dna companies are the best? >> guest: you can read my book i suppose. you can look at materials which seems to be giving new scientific evidence whether there are citations and what did do they point to as far as the basis upon which they make recommendations. i don't mean to promote this too much because this is still early
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days. most of the genetic analyses we do change your odds a little bit opera down but they are not telling the whole story. c-span: what did you learn about your medical future that you haven't told this? >> guest: i pretty much told it all. i was worried about the alzheimer's because that is where we have a pretty impressive ability to make changes. i was a little reluctant at first whether he wanted to know that one because right now if you are at high-risk for alzheimer's there is nothing to be offered to reduce that and we ultimately decided to look and it was okay so i'm glad about that. i had risks of prostate cancer for instance and certainly diabetes. i had reduced risks of other things and i was glad about that too at again knowing the evidence here all of those things could be -- because we are still just scratching the surface of understanding heredity. what i can see is a small fraction of what is there.
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c-span: let me ask you about and breast cancer. the numbers you probably have them but i think from reading more men get prostate cancer than women get breast cancer. why do we not see pink ribbons for prostate cancer and we see all of this attention on breast-cancer? you see no campaigns or marches on prostate cancer. >> guest: there are groups, the cancer foundation that promote the importance of this but prostate cancer generally is a disease of older men and prostate cancer also is less frequent lethal perhaps so perhaps therefore it's not seen as quite a public health emergency as breast cancer but certainly there is a lot of efficacy that plays a role in terms of visibility in particular. it is and always connected in terms of the seriousness of the problem. if you look at diabetes,
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diabetes kills a lot of people from heart attacks to kidney failure and lines people but does diabetes have the same disability is breast-cancer? it doesn't seem to in part because there's a different level of urgency and that is promoted sometimes by just how effective the advocates are. c-span: how much money does the actual cancer institute spent on cancer and how much does it spend on cancer? >> guest: i don't know the numbers. it's a lot traded its a lot more than. i think they are fairly close and do you know what? this is also something that's important in terms of how we allocate funds. what we are learning about cancer is probably our designation of cancer by the organ in which they arose is not very helpful. what really matters is which genes are activated so if somebody has breast-cancer they may make a discovery that's more useful for prostate cancer. we should think about cancer research in a different way now and not try to parse it out in that particular tissues of
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origin. c-span: is the head of the national institutes of health to you had the national cancer institutes? >> guest: they are appointed by the secretary of the health and human services kathleen sebelius but i have a heavy role in the kenya recommendation i do so generally by organizing a search committee of the best and brightest people in the field and trying to identify the perfect person. having to go through all that setting and making recommendation to the secretary. it's not easy to recurrent people. we can't pay them probably more than a quarter of what their market value would be. right to what they top salary for an institute had? >> guest: very few of her institute directors and most of them could be college presidents or executive vice deans of medical centers and get paid three or four times that. right go why we picked to do the human genome project?
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and who picked you? >> guest: bernadine healy who is the nih director. c-span: who died of cancer. >> guest: who died of cancer, a brain tumor. she's the one who reached out to me early in the human genome prize check. the first was none other than james watson of watson and crick in healy and he tangled over a few things and suddenly he was gone. at that time is that the university michigan in high hit then hunting for genes that cause diseases in my lab for cystic fibrosis and for disease called narrow fibromitosis and i had set up a small genome center in michigan with nih support but i wasn't expecting to get the call to come to nih and lead that effort and i eventually -- initially said no. it didn't seem much the kind of thing i was ready to do. my mother who i told you earlier was such a wonderful influence on me have always said if there is one friends thing frances you must always avoid that is becoming a government employee.
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whatever else you do don't do that so i had a quite a conversation with my mom. c-span: how long were you with that project and how much money did they spend? >> guest: i came in 1993 and stayed until 2008 but all the goals of the project were achieved a year and half early in 2003. about $400 million less than had been initially planned so there was a 3 billion-dollar budget and we did it with 2.6 over the course of 13 years instead of 15 so federal project ahead of schedule. c-span: bernadine hayley was a republican working for a republican president and you were picked by her and barack obama picked you to the head of the nih. how did that have been? >> guest: i'm happy to say in this hyperpolarized environment ethical research remains one of the few things that is not partisan and it has always been that way because medical
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research is something we should all tell you if you care about her own health and that of our families and friends. our constituents. this is not something where republicans and democrats generally differ. they don't even differ now. c-span: back in 2000 the president made this announcement and i want to ask you what happened. >> we note that the work you do would not get done if left solely to the private sector. some research does not lend itself to quick profit. that is why places like the nih were found. that is why my administration is making the historic commitment to research and the pursuit of discovery. that is why today we are announcing that we will award $5 billion that's what the b in grants through the recovery act to conduct cutting-edge research all across america. c-span: i assume you were there in the room to what happened to
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the $5 million? 's go it went accelerate some very exciting science that otherwise would have taken a lot longer. we talked about cancer. our ability for 20 different cancer types exactly what is the genetic mutation that causes those cancers were greatly accelerated a part of that $5 billion. our ability right now to say that within the next few years we may have the faxing that works for all so you don't have to get your shot every year and you will get your shot and you are covered that was greatly accelerated by those dollars and hundreds of other projects which otherwise would have taken a long time to go forward. they were stimulated by the recovery act. it came at a great time because from 2003 until 2008, the budget for medical research at nih was essentially flat which means if it insulation was eroding its a
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the ability to chase after visionary ideas was being gradually diminished. this happened to a great pent-up opportunity to do visionary science and it happened. c-span: who made the decision on where that money would go? >> guest: we had a very vigorous team across all 20s seven institutes working together and at remarkable speed because this came along quickly to identify what would he the best way to spend these dollars. i would defend every penny. c-span: how fast did you get the money? >> guest: we did it in record time. we knew in february that the money was coming and it had to be then couched in terms of new programs announced and applicants had to write grants. they had to be reviewed and most of the dollars went out the door by september. c-span: we don't have much time left and i know you need more time to talk about this but a couple of weeks ago on vittori the 25th, you picked up "the
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new york times" that day and there was the lead story that said connecting the narrow dots. the first sentence by john markoff in setting the nation on a course to map the act of human brain president obama may have picked a challenge even more daunting than the war in afghanistan are finding common ground with his republican opponents. this says we record this has not been announced but i didn't see your name and the story. were you involved? >> guest: very much so. this is an exciting opportunity. this is the kind of visionary project that is right on the edge of the possible which is what nih should be all about. we have after all got the ability to understand the brain in certain ways but their huge areas that we really don't have a clue about how it works. for instance we can record an individual brain cell and neuron and see what it's doing and we can take teachers of the brain
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with mri scans or ct scans or pet scans and see the whole thing but there is this a marmot's gap in between about how the circuits of the brain function in order to be able to move my hand or to look at you and process that information or to lay down a memory. we don't know how it works. with technology, you have to be invented so a lot of this is going to be technology and a lot of it's going to be nanotechnology. what we introduced be able to record may be hundreds of thousands of brain cells at the same time and be able therefore to understand how the circuits work. that's the brain activity being talked about. very early days and we don't really have the scientific plan about milestones and timetables and costs that is getting to be a very exciting moment in putting something together. c-span: the article says it will be harder to do that than the human genome project. do you agree? >> guest: i think i would agree. the human genome project had a
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clear in point. this brain map is hard to say when he would complete the effort to cut his brain is enormously complicated. 100 trillion cells and all the ways they interact with each other. we will never be able to say we got it varied wind or stand it and it will be an ongoing effort so we have to nail down what are we talking about here and not to completely reveal all the secrets of the brain but we will reveal some of them in an ordered way and by nailing some of those goals down. write to when will it start in how much will it cost? >> guest: still to be discussed. we would hope to start at least the pilot efforts in the next year. i can give you a cost until we have had more chances to lay out what the scientific plan will be in that it's probably a year away. c-span: how long we going to do
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this job? >> guest: i'm having fun although the budgetary squeeze makes it less fun than it would be if you are in a growing freight -- phase and that's troubling when i see young scientist looking at the situation one turn whether they can stick it out. but the science, i was appointed by the president and i'm still there for the second term. traditionally the director of nih turns over when the resident turns over so i suppose realistically i should assume i've got less than four years to go. c-span: for you personally the most exciting possible discovery that you are aware of coming along quite in your work? >> guest: it's very hard to pick one. i do think what's happening in cancer right now because of the secrets that are being revealed by the tools that basically came out of the genome project are teaching us things about cancer at the most detailed molecular
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level that i didn't think in my lifetime would be learned and with direct implications for how we will figure out how to get treatments for the disease. c-span: do we waste money in medical research? >> guest: if there is is waste their haven't found it. certainly right now when we are only funding one out of six ideas that come to us we waste ideas because we don't have the resources to support them. if anybody thinks that somehow medical research right now is rolling in the dough and we can come back -- cut back on it without consequences can spend the day with me. listening to a people have to say who are having trouble keeping their labs open wondering whether they should continue down a course when they see their mentor struggling to keep science going i don't see waste here. c-span: we are going to go back to that 2007 graduation class at the university of michigan and i want to thank you for joining us today. dr. francis collins the head man
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at the national institutes of health. here you are in a different setting. and thank you. >> guest: it was good to be here. >> now it's my first. ♪ but now i find young friends. ♪ now that i am a full professor. ♪ where once i was oppressed, i have now become the cruel oppressor. ♪ with me i hope you will see. ♪ the double helix is a highway and yes, sir you will learn its best to do it my way. ♪ [applause]
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well i'm just a man. what can i do? ♪ open your books. read chapter 2. and if it seems a bit routine, don't talk to me. go see the dean. ♪ you cannot fail to the victors hail and go do it your way. ♪ [applause] >> for a dvd copy of this program call 1-877-662-7726. for free transcripts or to give
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us your comments about this program visit us a q&a.org. q&a programs are also available at c-span podcasts. >> let's begin with the willmar and american novelist james baldwin. what to issue the march on washington? >> i could say the fact that i was born more concretely i felt
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there was no way for me not to be involved with the president has deemed the most important demonstration to free americans that has ever happened in this country. >> up until recently like most americans i have expressed my support of civil rights largely by talking about it at cost till parties i'm afraid that again many americans this summer, i could no longer pay only lip service to a guard that was so urgently write and edit time that is so urgently now.
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next author and journalist rick atkinson on booktv "in depth." he's the author of six books including his latest "the guns at last light" the final book of a three-part series known as "the liberation trilogy" which chronicles the allied forces victory in europe during world war ii. for the next three hours he talks about the trilogy and other events related to the war. >> host: rick atkinson what is "the liberation trilogy"? >> guest: it's a project i began 15 years ago and it's an
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account of the liberation of europe are taking early from a perspective of american and other western allies. the first volume began with the liberation of north africa in 1942 with the invasion of morocco and algeria in the campaign across north africa. the second volume is north across the mediterranean to the invasion of sicily in july 1942 in southern italy and september september 1943 and then the third volume is one that is just come out beginning with the eve of the invasion of normandie. d-day in normandy as june 6, 1944 in the final volume tells the final chapter of the story all the way through peta. >> host: from your book "an army at dawn" why do we begin a north africa? >> guest: because that is where the story really begins.
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the decision was made by franklin roosevelt at the urging of winston churchill to not try to cross the english channel in 1942 or 1943 readily because the american army was very green and green commanders, partly because we didn't have the landing craft and the other matériel necessary to undertake that enormous feet. so roosevelt can't trade to the advice of almost all of the senior military commanders agreed to invade north africa in november of 1942 and that took place on november 8. american and british worse is fighting not the germans because they weren't there yet and not the italians but the french and that is where the story begins. >> host: why do we begin by fighting the french? >> guest: the french have made a deal with the germans when they invaded france in 1940 and they immediately made their way to paris.
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they offer different to deal with the devil. i will keep the northern two-thirds of france including paris and you french can keep the southern one third with the new capital and he can keep your oversees possessions particularly your colonies in north africa. in most of the french agreed to this. there were a few renegades who refused but an obscure brigadier general called charles degaulle. consequently when he baited north africa was the french who were there. algeria is essentially a state of metropolitan france. >> host: how long did it take to defend the free and -- defeat the french? >> guest: three days in the french army fought ferociously in one of the biggest naval battles in the atlantic is casablanca. the first couple of days of november in 1942 but then the french it so happened that his senior french admiral was in algiers at the time and his son
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had polio. he finds himself trapped basically readies invading forces. he negotiates a deal with the americans and british and agrees that he will surrender north africa which happens in the middle of notes and -- november. three days of fighting in a couple days of heavy wrangling. >> host: rick atkinson you have a recurring theme throughout previous books and from an army at don the war in north africa 1942 and 1943 you write in september 1939 u.s. army had ranked 17th in the world in size and combat power just behind armenia. when those 136 german divisions conquered western europe nine months later the war department reported that it could feel justified division and even the homeland was horrible. some defense guns have not been testfired in 20 years in the army lacked enough antiaircraft guns to protect even a single american city.
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the building of the armed forces was likened to the reconstruction of the dinosaur around in on that and three vertebrae. then from your second in the trilogy that day of battle from beginning to end l.a. to work training tended to be improvisational and finally from "the guns at last light" which just came out you write the cohesion and internal coherence of the allied coalition had a shirt victory. the better lines had one. certainly it was possible to look at allied war-making on any given day and feel heartsick at the missed opportunity and pure blind personalities and wretched wastage to wonder why the ranks would not be braver or at least clever or smarter or at least shrewder prescient or least intuitive. yet despite its foibles the all elliott wave 41 through and to finish that up an e-mail from harry limbeck in mt. lebanon
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pennsylvania. the bottom with the soldiers who had won the war. they were rewarded for their diligence and stoic demeanor with trench foot distance. of clothing ammunition support fuel and food slaughtered by the hundreds by the poor planning of their division core army and army group commanders. thousands of these men were wasted for no good purpose. my question, do how did we win the war? >> guest: well that's as common a question as you might suspect he we won the war through a war through a 480 of advantages. we had far more of everything that the germans had first of all. our matériel advantages were enormous. we were creating tens of thousands of airplanes at a time when the germans were struggling to just make thousands. we made more tanks, more trucks more ammunition. so that's important and we were making it in america not only
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for ourselves and our armed forces but for our friends. we ended up outfitting the reddish, outfitting almost everything that the french used once they joined the war in a portion of what the soviets and others were supplied with. so that is important. we learned how to fight. i think that's part of what this trilogy is about. we learned from the mistakes that were made beginning in north africa and certainly more mistakes in western europe but there is a great sifting out the goes on. it's a sifting out of the competent on the incompetent. commanders from all levels from platoon leader to the army level of the physically fit to the physically unfit, of of the lucky from the unlucky. this was a trait that napoleon most prized in his general senates and radically important in war. by the time we get to the summer of 1944 we are pretty good and
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we have a sizable army. i think when you put all those things together and you remember the soviets are hammering the third reich from the east bay to most of their fighting and they do most of the two bleeding and most of the killing and they do most of the dying. 26 million soldiers died in the war so it's a very good ally to have. so you put all those things together and what you have is a winning coalition and a winning formula for global warfare. >> host: you write in "the guns at last light" the typical soldier stood 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 144 pounds. defects that once would have kept many young men out of uniform. a man with 20/400 vision could be constructed at this site was corrected and for that in the armed services armed forces would make 2.3 million pairs of eyeglasses for the troops.
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were we short unmanned? >> guest: terribly short. by the winter of 44, 45 and not only that initially to the graphic you needed to have 12 of your natural 32 teeth and by 1944 you had zero because the army and navy drafted one third of the dentist to make dentures to pull teeth and filled teeth and that sort of thing. you could be drafted in 1944 if you are missing a thumb or three fingers including your churck or finger or if you were deaf in one ear. they were drafting 12,000 patients a month. how could they do that? penicillin. they were making huge quantities by 1944. we were short a man and particularly shorter than for treatment and especially short of rifleman. so this is an effort to fill the ranks. casualties have been running high. we can't forget 400,000 americans died during the war and of fat 291,000 killed in
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action. .. and so on. when you look at that way, you can see that the weight between the pacific and the atlanta theaters are pretty evenly split, but when you look in term of manpower, you can see that
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the weight was given to fighting the germans. this is because the decision had been made early in 1942, prin. called get germany first ." rose -- if you could defeat the strongest of the access powerses firth. that was clearly germany. the others would fall from the tree like rotten fruit. it was the first and most strategic principle of the war. that turned to be the true. you see the weight based on the europe even though it was the japanese that defended us. >> host: the year 1942, what was it like for the u.s.? >> guest: it was fraught. it was bitter argument where to attack first. when the decision is made we're going do it again the germans and where we end up going north africa for reasons we
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discussed. this is a mission -- and operation called torch. go to north africa that was perhaps the greatest gamble of the war for the americans. it involves secretly crossing the atlantic at the time when the german submarine stlet at the greatest. it involves attacking a hostile short -- shore which is one of the most difficult kinds of military operations and operations against an entrenched enemy. it involves aligning oust with the british and waging war in ways we're not accustom to. we're making it up as we go along. it involves finding the men who can lead other men in the dark of night. which is what combat is fundamentally about. all is a high wire act of the first order. that's what 1942 is about. it's letting that play out. >> host: what was it like on the home front? >> guest: i would say after
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pearl harbor, all of the deviciveness that exited in the united states whether to get involved in another european war, whether to participate in any way including provide material to the brush and so on. it fell away. by 1922 there was a unanimity of feeling about the strategic direction of the country. there's a feeling we're now in it with our ally and in it to the end. there's a recognition it's an external tees issue way. our way of life is at stake. don't forget that in 1942, there are about 130 people in the united states. 16.1 million of them will be in uniform by 1945. everyone has someone they love in harm's way. everyone has skin in the game.
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everyone has a blood stake. that becomes quite clear to americans almost all americans through the course of 1942. contrast that today we have about 2 million in uniform. almost no one has system they love in harm's way. almost no one has skin in the game in the same sense. so it's different psychologically between that period in world war ii and america today. >> host: may 1944. britain soldiered on.
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agree graphical society sponsored a lecture on the formation of ice in lakes and rivers. that's may 1944, london. >> guest: yeah. the british have been at war obviously since 1949, they have been at war seriously since 1940. they have been under attack relentlessly during the germans by the blist. they are soon to be under attack being clumsy but deadly flying bombs. privation is part of the british landscape. and all of a sudden in the midst
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of this there are a couple of unmillion soldiers showing up in the country the side of oregon. it's potentially combustible. but by good leadership, by good or more, mostly good or more by the brits, they manage to show great fore barons. they contribute everything from tents and housing to what little good they have. it's the girn of the alliance we think of today of a special relationship between the united states and britain. it hasn't developed quite yet on the battle field especially i are in the high command. even though there are plenty aggrieved british people because of the fact you have millions of g.i.s around and they can be crude and overbearing and noisy. the british in general show
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great character. it's fun to write about. t an interesting part with the long relationship with what had been a mother country. >> how it you do your research? >> i'm an archive rat, as it turns out. i spend cumulatively weeks, months, years in places like the national archive in college park, maryland. the library of congress. the u.s. army military history institute a couple of hours north of war. and over the course of the better part of fifteen years i have gotten to know the archives very well every state university visually has a world war ii archive within the library or the archive somehow. i get an enormous amount of stuff over the readers. people saying my dad threftd --
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left this memoir. i don't know what to do with it. often it can be interesting and valuable to me. i don't interview many veterans. that's because my father will be 89 he's a world war ii veteran. yet what happened seventy years ago is for everyone still alive at the time. and it may not or may be reliable. it may or may not be as vivid as they remember. the record including thousand and thousand of oral histories that were done almost simultaneous with the events that occurred many done by very fine army historian. so vast and deep and broad you don't need a recollection 70 years after in my judgment. i do mostly use archives and try
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to use mostly contemporary archives. to say the least there are at love books written. amazon with something like 60,000 hard cover tights. some were really good, needless to say. i try to come through that and be diligent and see what others have written. >> host: what was your dad stationed? >> guest: he got to europe at the end of the war. he enlisted in '43 went officer candidate school and a second lieutenant. he was in the con stab which was an interesting unit formed as if ended. the helmet had a yellow band. their job was to keep in order bar very -- had been utterly destroyed seven million dead german. there's no food or power. there's no running water.
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it's horrible. it's nation of 80 million people that have been utterly smashed. and so he was there for a year, came back went to college. penn state then went back to the army. he liked it enough he made it a career, subsequently he was a career army officer. so, you know, he had an interesting role of europe right at the end. >> host: where do you grow up? >> guest: like most army brats all over. i was born in munich. he was sent to salzberg. a nice place to be stationed. when the u.s. army of in austria. the first three years of my life were spent there. the army hospital happened to be in munich. from there he was an infantry office. georgia, idaho, san francisco, hawaii, pennsylvania, we moved around quite a bit. >> host: where do you go to college? what did you do for a living
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prior to writing a book? >> guest: east carolina and university of chicago. i studied english. it seemed sedentary. it didn't seem like the right thing. i got a job after i finished my master's degree at the newspaper in pittsburgh kansas. i fought it was a calling. i love the news room. i loved being a journalist. i worked there far year and a half and worked in kansas city for several years and ended up in washington at 1983, thirty years ago. and war correspondent for awhile. i ran investigative reporting for the post for some time. and all the while going to write books. i wrote a book on the west points class of 1966 in the late
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'80s. why took on this topic, this task, this mountain, i left the news room pretty much for good. i've been back to the post twice since taking this up. but both time were short periods. >> host: this is booktv in-depth program. our monthly program with one author looking at his or her body of work. rick atkinson is the guest this month. here are his books.
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the numbers are on the screen and set we aside the phone line for world world war ii veterans. we would like to hear from you as well. 202 is the area code.
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you can send a tweet@booktv is the twitter handle. you can send an e-mail to booktv at c-span.org. and finally, you can make a comment on facebook. facebook.com/booktv. you'll see at the top of our facebook page a comment field for rick atkinson. beginning with your first book, "long gray line ." why the class of 1966? >> guest: i stumbled in to their story. my dad had a close frenlded in the army who a son that was in that class. his name is mike fuller. it's probably as close to an older brother. one day mike started telling me about his class and what they had gone through and arrived at west point as the leader of the generation and charged off to vietnam in 1966, '67.
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they were shot to pieces. it was more than any other west point classes. they found they were -- they were no longer the leader. they were outcast effectively as the country went through the upheaval in the war and many other things. so i decide to go to the 15th reunion. they meet in the cemetery where a lot of the dead are buried. everyone was crying. it was so heart breaking. it was clear it was a powerful story that allowed you to tell social history of america over a quarter century. i wept back to the 20th reunion. i began working on the book. and i feel that there were 579 men in the class. it was still all male at west point. they're an extraordinary bunch not only for what they went through at west point and
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vietnam but things that happened to them subsequently. the book is built around three central characters. i'm close to the men from that class. i always will think of thement as 18-year-old boys showing up at west point on reception day in july of 1962, and i feel a great sense of attachment. >> guest: whoft three central character. they were in the same company. both wiptd to war. jack went to harvard business school. tom was wounded a couple of times. they went through i have sis attitude. they found themselves on that was over how to honor the dead with the vietnam veteran's
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memorial. jack was the hid of the committee that built the wall. tom was the most outspoken articulate of the design. the black wall. and camps were were formed. it was very bitter. they reconciled. jack was murdered a couple of years ago in delaware. an unsolved killing. no one knows what really happened, except for the killer, i suppose. before it happened they reconcile. but it was an interesting and part of the -- i tell the story over the fight and how to honor the dead. it's part of a long journey the class of west pointers went through beginning in 1962. >> host: from crusade, the untold story of the persian gulf war. did you embed?
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>> guest: no. there was no embedding per se. it came during 2003. i got there at the end of the war. i was writing the main story for "the washington post from washington. i got there and there for about six weeks in march and april. reporting for the post. but also gathering strength to write a book to try to tell the story what happened from inside. and spent a lot of time with the like of schwartz and the admiral that ran the war and those at home here. dick chain nigh, for example, all of others who were senior policy makers who were involved with it.
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choice to offer iraq clemency. >> yeah. some will remember that it was made after 100 hours of ground war. in august of 1991. and evicted from kuwait. beat up thoroughly. and when they were on the run and being chased back, the decision was made to end the war that enough had been done with the war achieved. and, you know, that remains controversial to this day. we went back in 2003, we invaded
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iraq again in earnest and automatic of that came out of the decision making that had gone on in the earlier war. you will enter the continent in europe -- undertake operations aifm at the heart of germany and the destruction of her armed forces. what is that? >> guest: the order given to eisenhower who is the supreme commander of the ally force that is to invade france.
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so they will vubder unconditionally. what does the d in d day stand for? >> guest: nothing. soldier joked it stood for death or stood for day. day day. it's just a code. people have tried to figure out what it really stood for. in fact, it has no meaning other than d. >> host: why june 4? >> guest: that's right. it was supposed to be june 5th. that was the date eisenhower
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picked. it's tricky to invade the norman coast. the tides are extraordinary. 23-foot swing. the moon has to be right at night in order to allow para troopers to see and the pilots taking them and the glider pilots hauling them. the winds have to be right. weather had to be wrong. eisenhower never had good luck with the weather. it was stormy for the innovation of size i are -- sizely. it was stormy indeed on june 5th, 1944. you can usually count on bemean weather. it was awful. he postponed it for a day. he had a narrow window in which the -- suitable for the kind of innovation.
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the innovation of corming to normandy than the point on the french coast. the anxiety level is and makes a decision to postpone it. he did and got away with it. june 6 is the day we celebrate. >> number of troops and death? >> guest: well, there are five divisions that go over the beaches basically. two american and three british -- you talk about a couple hundred thousand troops going in on june 6th. most of the deaths that the worst beach was omaha. one of the two american beaches.
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it didn't happen. by no means were the casualty light. it was less than anticipated. utah beach was which was the farthest right. the british and the canada had a tough time of it. by the end of june 6 there were canada troops -- that were more than 15-yards. there was a disparity and the resist ens they found. and their ability to push inland nap is the trick in an innovation. you want to get inland as far as you can. as quickly you can. you want to push the enemy's artillery out of the range. you are most vulnerable coming across the beach. it took several days to get to that point. but nevertheless, it turns out
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to be quite successful, and the casualties while talking 3,000 or so deaths all together. they're lighter than many feared. >> host: what about the gliders that went in? the para troopers that went in ahead of time. >> guest: there was a decision in order to secure the flank of this innovation force coming in on the beach, that you needed to have an airborne operation. it's a big one. it includes men coming by parachute and men landing by glider at night. all flying from england. the 101st and 82nd are born division for the americans come in. they have a british counter part on the other side combing in. all in all, dispute confusion and cat fee, periodically gliders crashing, men shot in the harns as they are coming down by parachute. all in all you have to say the
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an born operation was successful. it did succeed in in confusion among the german defenders. it helped to shore up counter attack to the flank of the beachhead will there was a great debate a few days before the innovation. british air marshall lee mall i are. felt that the germans reinforced the part of normandy to a degree that would make it suicidal to end the 82nd and 101st. a senior air officer saying this is suicide. eisenhower was a terrible decision to make. it was very, very hard. he went to his room and thought about it. and decided i have to do it. i can't launch an innovation and have the risk of counter attacks of the flank of the troop coming across the beach without taking
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a huge risk on these airborne operations. as it turned out, it was the right decision. and it worked pretty well all in all. >> host: of more than 6,000 jumpers from 101st airborne rick writes, barely 1,000 landed on or near the objective. most of the 1500 drifted beyond in closing the division crop zone would be killed or captured. a few made to safety with maps torn by local telephone book by french farmers. their faces dark bed and bandages stained. >> guest: yeah. it gives you an sense of the
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intensity and the fickleness of it. you had to be a gutful man to leap out of an airplane in the dark from 1,000 feet or less, in many places they jumped from 500 feet. with people shooting at you. and airborne troop were volunteers. even though you said you wanted to be there. you had to believe when push came to shove there were many that had second thought. it's part of the reason that the 101st and the 82nd airborne active divisions tread still revered. they attract these kind of troops that go through this kind of experience. and we see the 82nd and 101st fighting elsewhere in britain. notably during the battle of the bulling. and they're extraordinary. my admiration for them is
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unbounded. >> host: one more quote then calls inspect is from guns at last light. the preparatory bomb forking the american beacheses in operation overlord lasted barely half an hour in order get on with the landing. allied ship on june 6th fired 140,000 shells and few enemy casements were destroyed. 218 huge shells and almost 1,006 rounds flung one frict hit was recorded of 28 batters capable of ranging utah beach with 111 guns. none were completely knocked out in the dawn baa barrage. >> host: we're beginning with
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robert in ohio. >> caller: mr. atkins 16 million people under a -- world war ii how many general officers was there in the military, and admiral compared to today? >> guest: there were about 1300 generals in the army in world war ii. number of admirals, i don't recall offhand. but you figure it's proportionate. today there are somewhere in the order of a few less than 300. the ratio then and now is somewhat different. you can see there were more soldiers per general in the army. we had 8.1 million. 8.3 million in the united army in world war ii. you have 1300 generals. today we have more general per
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soldier. i don't think it's necessarily excessive. it's a debate that is held periodically in the pentagon and other places. and certainly elsewhere in washington around the country over whether there's too much brass. my feeling is that the structure is such it's hard to make the case there are too many generals except perhaps on the margin. >> host: lewis is world war ii veteran calling from florida. you're on booktv. thank you for calling in. >> caller: thank you. writing about north africa. so few people have done it. i was with the 77th evaluation hospital with the university of kansas. we were overseas for 37 months. what we did in north africa was -- [inaudible] two other hospitals to take our place behind the front line. thank you. >> host: what was your job? >> caller: a surgical nurse in
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the wards. >> host: were you a volunteer? >> caller: yes. >> host: what do you recall about that experience? >> caller: it was totally unusual because we were so innocent about war when we went other there. we had to just work from scratch practically to set up our hospital units and take care of the wounded. >> host: how many women were with your unit? >> guest: 47, i believe. >> host: thank you, madam. >> guest: thank you. that's terrific. i know, the 77th well. my swive from kansas. my daughter is a surgeon. so we are enthusiastic about what you did and the university of kansas. my wife is a grad. and i came across a 77th
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periodically throughout my research. you were there -- there were no units, that i'm aware of sergeant call hop -- hospitals that did more or for a longer period of time. i'm aware of the extraordinarily difficult circumstances field medicine is pretty crude in those days compared to today. and ability to innovate and make do and to stay tough in tough times. i'm in awe of it. my daughter, i've told her about what you and your colleagues did. she works with the surgeons at the university of cincinnati in trauma surgeon. she has some sense of what it is you went through. >> host: she's in north africa. were all women volunteers? >> guest: yes. and they were relatively few.
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there was a women's army core. later known the awc. there was no draft of women. the men were subject to it. the deeper to the war we got the greater were your chances of being drafted. but there was never a draft for women. if you were a woman and in uniform, or if you were a woman and working as a riveter in an aircraft factory or a welder in a shift factory or a driver of something. it's because you volunteered to be there. >> host: from an army in north africa 1942 to 1943. at the price of 70,000 casualty. one continent was redeemed in churchill's phrase. four u.s. division had combat experience. stroop learned the importance of terrain.
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aggressive patrolling of stealth of mass armor. they knew what of it like to be bomb shelled, mean gun, and fight on. sue e-mail to you, history will be kind to me for i intend to write it. it is true isn't it? of he write to insist on the campaign in north africa maybe the war would have been short for we did the european innovation in 1943. >> guest: this has been debated for seventy years. since then, of course we will never know. t counter factual to suppose other than what happened. my feeling is having looked at it in great depth and over a long period of time. it played out as it should play out. i don't believe we the cape tobility invade fran in 1943. i think we would been potentially disastrous. there were no good alternatives to north africa if in fact you were trying to liberate europe
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ultimately. and so my feeling is that even though a bit of improvization involved in this, they're making it up as they go along. there's some miscalculations about how easy it will be in north africa. there are certainly miscalculation about what church hill called the soft underbelly of the southern side of europe. there was nothing soft about it certainly in italy. and, you know, i think you argue that the war in italy in particular went on too long that it drew too much resource. my feeling is that the decision to invade north africa is quite defensible. >> host: were the american and the british throughout the war on the same page? >> guest: they were almost never on the same page. to one extent or another. you know, it's -- it's one of the mystery of the
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war how different national perspective and different values and different national interests can remain more or less in harness toward the ultimate goal of winning the war and defeating the third reich. you found, for example, just over the issue of where to invade initially the british favored north africa. none of the american favored north america with the exception of one guy that had a boat. that was frank lynn -- franklin roosevelt. it set the stage for strategic issues like that. and some extent tactical issue. it's a droibt men of good will, actually to be able to put aside their difference and reach comprise. essentially make it work even though it's ugly at times and certainly bad feelings at time between these blood ally. >> host: if you can't get through on the phone line.
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you can fry social media. @book of it is the twitter handle. jim in maryland, go ahead. >> caller: you may have addressed this question already. but it's about what you said about italy. you said we were attacking the germans if we nailed them they would be fall like the rest of them would fall like rotten fruit. yfs the decision made to go to italy as opposed to going directly to france right away? i've heard theory it would have cut the war and so on. another question i've got how well did the fdr administration hanged patent flapping of the soldier and on. he was supposedly one of the top commanders. it wasn't irresponsible to at least -- for awhile. the war might have, finished earlier.
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supposedly it was one of the better general and so on. last question i got. is i've heard i can't remember the book. it was actually on c-span. eisenhower and patent some historian argued that after world war i, there superiors trained them specifically for them and predicted there's going to be another war.
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that bedsed in may of 19 43. the next step was sizely. it's basically a large aircraft carrier in the middle of the mediterranean need airbase for the campaign that you want to launch against the access enemy especially in germany. sizely makes a certain sense. once you're there it's only two miles across the straight to toe with the boot of italy. and so the decision was made, okay, we have got then far. we'll go to southern italy. there are more airbases there's a sense to that too. it become a self-fulfilling process. you goat owrn italy and you want to get to war. you want to knock the italian out. they quit.
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the british are very keen on prosecuting the war. they had 200 years of experience there. they have imperial interest in the mediterranean. and you find there's a momentum and the logic of its own that occurs in war. that doesn't hole up when you look 70 years after and say why do you do that. the second question about patent. he slapped two soldiers in sizely. really lost control of himself. believe both were shirkers. both were sick. they were both in hospitals.
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if that were to happen today he would be excited from the army. you can't have the generals slapping private soldiers around. it didn't happen to him. he was pushed aside for awhile, as you say. it the fact that it remains secret. the story didn't break until november 18943. it wasn't roosevelt that intervened. it's eisenhower trying to decide what to do with his problem child. after cob templating for awhile. recognizing that he is, as you say a fine field commander. he decided that he would not send him home. it co him as a role of the senior american ground commander in normandy. he's used for deception reasons. she's shuntedded aside.
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he's miserable in the period of perking story. what happened to him of the deserved. he brought it on himself. i think that eisenhower actually choose a fairly wise course. he believed a second world war was inevitable and called him alarmist ike. the army having been reduced to the skelton of itself after world war i they're not thinking okay we're going to identify eisenhower and patent and be the senior general. he's sentenced to five star rank. so there's not a deliberate --
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[inaudible] it happens in part because they prove to be capable. recognize their merit. but they have not specifically been designated in any way as the future leader of the armed forces. >> host: this is a world war ii veteran in palm beach, florida. you're on booktv. >> caller: thank you. great to hear from you. testifies a teenager. world war ii. i read two m of your books. great books. two things i ask you to think about. you all look for the next book.
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the key battle has never been written about and covered. on d day there was the -- [inaudible] and had had planking power. that afternoon and that day, we need a writer like you to go after the service academy who are not able to stop the abuse of our women. that's a couple of thing. i love you both. it's ken calling from palm beach garden. thank you, ken. you sound good for a guy. thank you for the call and comment. the second one first.
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some of the leadership have been a little cavalier. i don't think first of all you can expect to attract very capable women which are absolutely essential to the force. all of the armed forces, at this point, unless you treat them properly. unless you respect them both as soldiers with sailor, airmen, marine, and as women. i'm hoping secretary hagel will take it on and hammer the people until the proper thing is done and the appropriate training is done. relative newcomers in the lifespan of west point in 1802. they are trying to get it right; i think. with respect to your first question about that untold story. i agree there's a lot to be
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done. it won't be done by me. i'm not pacific. i'm going leave world war ii. fifteen years is long enough. in fact i agreed with my publisher that i'm going to do a trilogy on the american revolution. i've been reading and trying to get smarter for about a year. and the characters. the characters are just as fantastic. not only the one you know about like george washington, but some you probably don't know about. that's what i'm going to do. the pacific someone else will have to take on. i have a friend, a fine historian, richard frank. he's written books.
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it's very help of the and imposes a certain discipline. you can type fast. you are accustom to deadline and making decisions about what to throw out and leave in. how to make judgments. my process i do the research it lasts years. i go to archives and i really -- i do most myself i don't have
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researchers doing it. i think it has to go to my brain in some of way for me to understand it. i put a mark on the wall and say i'm stopping here. there are things don't know and never know. this story is bottomless. there will be more to write 500 years from now. i put the mark on the wall and stop here. i outline the material i've got. it's in computer files i've typed up and it's got allows me not only to have a map where i'm going where it comes time to write the book. it serves an index. it tells me where everything is in my notes. i whereabout 1,000 words a day. i can write pretty quickly.
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and that's about equivalent to a newspaper day story. if you think, you know, 250,000 word book. it's 250-day story for "the washington post and kansas city paper. and if you fool yourself to that next thing you now you have a book. knowing when to stop the research. knowing you have a deadline to turn it in. >> host: david in new york. >> caller: i wanted to ask you a question. we talk about the patent slapping. in your opinion, did the care of ptsd or battle fatigue, as they called it then. did it improve? what was battle fatigue treatment like then compared to today? >> guest: that's a great question. and important question.
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we learned a lot in world war i what was called shell shock. the term was discredited and there were other terms adopted in world war ii by the time our involvement in north africa began much that had been learned in that early war had been forgotten and had to learn it again. it's not just with respect to neurostrisk issues that got at lo of things like trench foot, for example. they are learning it again in north africa. they learn pretty quickly that treating it in various ways is more effective than others. and one of the things that most soldiers showing signs of combat fatigue show is exhaustion. combat exhaustion is another term for it. so they would tend to knock them out. sometimes letting them sleep for several days at the stretch. they would try not to --
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except if the war cases a soldier had come unglued. they would not try to ship them too far to the rear. they wanted to keep them close to the unit. if helped to preserve the self-respect and the link to the unit. so all of this went on. it's important, i think, to know there were 900,000 american soldier hospitalized for neuropsychiatric accident reporters. it's an enormous toll. today, you know, you have to say that treatment of ptsd is pretty sophisticated. we learned a lot dhawrg experience in world world war ii and korea and vietnam. we didn't have the diagnosis of ptsd after world war ii. it's clear to me there were thousands hundreds of thousands millions of soldier who came home and suffered some experience in way we would now recognize. and yet it was not doged then.
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today they are better diagnosing it and better at destigmatize it. you have have terrific leaders. the top american general in africa. saying, look, i recognize i've got symptoms of ptsd, i need treatment when the general say that it allows private, sergeant, and lieutenant. say said i also need it. it won't be the end of my career and the end of respect for me. >> host: you're watching booktv on c-span2. this is in-depth program. rick atkinson is our guest. he's the last of his trilogy. came out last month. in that book, he writes -- this is from august 1944. the u.s. stock market tumbled in anticipation of peace and falling corporate profit.
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>> guest: this is after the success we finally have in normandy. the germans have bottled up the british and american and polish and canadian soldiers for weeks and weeks after the june 6 innovation. finally at the end of july, we launch an operation called -- it punches a whole in the german defensive lines. american forces poored through. bottom helps to lead them at that point. the british on the left side of the allied line breakthrough. the germans have really no good place to defend until they get to the german border. we are pushing them across france. we have them bottled up, which is between normandy and paris. a lot get away. we kill or capture 40,000 or so. many get away. yet there is a great feeling of
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jubilation it's all over but the shouting and the war is essentially done the germans were defeated. it doesn't happen as quickly as anyone hoped on the ally side. >> host: faris -- paris, 1944. germans spoke in signs, vanished from shop fronts replaced by resist ens that warned. clap raters pelted with eggs, tomato, and sack of excrement. women stripped to the waist and
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swastica painted on the breasts. leave her alone. you are all collaborationists. the newspaper resumed publication of the daily feature called arrests. some 900,000 french men and women should be arrested in the purge of whom 125,000 were forced to answer in court for their behavior. ron in ev receipt, washington. hi. >> caller: good afternoon. thank you for taking my call. i wanted to speak with you. it turns out both of my questions have been answered already. i would like that say that consider the -- the same discrimination roosevelt gave the normandy campaign itself. truly comprehensive, rivetting
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and eloquent. you follow the priority i had my father and two uncles in the theater and as well as the european theater. and one uncle in the -- [inaudible] philippines and -- [inaudible] my question on the italian campaign. you note the british military historian several of them and david kennedy from stanford that the italian campaign was a senseless strategic cul-de-sac. so it still -- get -- [inaudible] further on that especially when rome was captured the subsequently diverted a lot of division to the innovation of -- [inaudible]
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that the campaign was unnecessary? >> that's a good question. thank you for your generous comments. and for the good question. if you. to ham ere makes some sense. as i suggested earlier, i think the farther north you go the less sense it makes.
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those are twenty division that won't be facing you in normandy. so i think there is justification respect to that. you're right that after rome falls the decision has already been made that there will be an innovation of southern france. it happens on august 15th. it was supposed to be simultaneous with the normandy. it was delayed for a few months because of the shortages of landing kraft. we pull some of our best unit out of italy, including the third infantry division. , and the french pulled all of their forces. the french, in my estimation were as good as anybody for the ally in italy and had the best field commanders. he said, look we have a country to liberate i can't justify having four french divisions fighting in italy when the
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opportunity obtains to either fight through normandy or to come through southern france. .. the americans basically put their foot down. the the big boys on the block at this point. churchill has to concede to the demands of eisenhower. roosevelt, as it turns out, this
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southern france invasion will take place. the forces in italy will be reduced to be the fighting continues in italy right until the beginning of may 1945 partly in order to keep those german forces tied up and not allow them to reinforce the normandy front. >> host: december 1944 from "the guns at last light: the war in western europe, 1944-1945", particularly alarming to gis was a theater wide cigarette shortage. u.s. army soldiers a lung smoke more than a million packs a day in europe. a million packs cigarettes a day . >> guest: yet. the eisenhower had more than his share. a guy smoking four packs of cigarettes a day himself. they had to have it. cigarettes were included in rations. soldiers got several cigarettes and every ration package.
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you could take it with the -- take away the ammunition, but don't take away the cigarettes. there was a shortage, a serious shortage. it had more to do with the shipping issues than an actual physical shortage of cigarettes. the troops for riotous. this was a big problem for eisenhower. of one. a switch brands to a lesser, a cheaper brand in order to show solidarity with the soldiers. patton was a cigar smoker. he was not as many cigars as churchill. twenty-six hours a day sometimes. he gave up the stars for a while, again to show solidarity. so it's part of the culture. you look back and think my god, what are we doing to those guys? no wonder they're short of breath as they're climbing the hills of the vosges mountains or as they're fighting in the our dens in december of 1944, but it
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was a different age, and that was part and parcel, an entitlement that they expected. >> host: hard to find pictures of eisenhower smoking. >> guest: know. he always had a cigarette in his hand. much photographed. quite a few pictures around of eisenhower with a cigarette. >> host: nathaniel is a veteran, world war ii veteran ex swells. good afternoon. he. >> caller: hello. thank you for taking my comment. i'm a world war ii veteran, 86 years old. i'm concerned about the people committing suicide from the battle. the lady came on. i was not able to talk to her. i was wondering if mr. atkinson could get this mess is there. the reason i think a lot of soldiers have committed suicide is because of the money. a lot of soldiers when they get
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discharged, the parents may even be dead then. they go into a city that they don't know anyone. then they don't have -- so many of them are sleeping under bridges and things because they don't have anywhere to go. so to them like they did us in world war two. we have a $300 pay. i'm not sure. we also got a 5220. for the first year we get $20 a week so that we can get adjusted and i gave him $10 of and for my report. i lived off the of the $10 a week. >> host: nathaniel, mr. atkinson his listening to your comment. where were you station will work to? what was your experience?
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>> caller: un from los angeles. i was in the 337, engineers. truck drivers. my duty was just to take them peas up to the airfield. then i was free to go to the red cross her debut of a pick them up and take them back to camp. >> host: thank you for calling >> guest: thank you for your service. suicide rates a very alarming. the new york times said of lott story about two weeks ago on this subject. the statistics are of great concern. anyone who cares about soldiers in the army. the military have been less than
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general population. now they're equal to or greater than. soldiers, when they leave the military, to be certain benefits. many soldiers killed when recesses for the educational benefits that is subsequently get. you can build a pretty good mistake. that does not necessarily deal with the psychic scars the may have. suicides, of course, and world war ii soldiers. it was not uncommon. >> host: do you have macron numbers? >> guest: i down of the number of suicide. 400,000 total deaths. they included accidents and diseases sell one. so i think certainly the pentagon is taking in very serious. the efforts to council soldiers,
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the average estimate commanders, noncommissioned officers more or a sentence her here absolutely half the cajon. he go off to wherever, school, looking for a job. is not just the military. and you looked at the aggregate numbers of unemployment among veterans pvc is tired and the unemployment numbers totally in the country. you know there's something wrong about the way were dealing with veterans and where were trying to help veterans after they finish service. >> host: back to "the guns at last light: the war in western europe, 1944-1945", december december 1944. eisenhower's provost marshal estimated that in december 18,000 american deserters from the european theater. another 10,000 british responders. the equivalent of a division of military fugitives that is
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believed to be hiding in the parisian to mantra often joining forces with local black marketeers to peddle k-rations for $0.75 from the tailgates of stolen army trucks. hundreds of such vehicles vanished every day or simply sell the entire do some half for $5,000. >> guest: a lot of bad behavior. no doubt about it. it's important to recognize the notion and all the brothers were valiant and the sisters virtuous is just nonsense. this not how human nature works, with a year in or out of the army. 23,000 deserters from the u.s. army in world war ii. thousands of court-martial's. hundreds of thousands for less and misdemeanors basically. there were breaks, 130 some soldiers who were executed, usually for murder and rape in
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europe during world war ii. there were french villages, especially in normandy, that protesting violence. there were complaints to eisenhower. and i think that he believes otherwise, not to understand. and so this kind of behavior, some of it is part of the story. to thwart. >> caller: the first in the country. -- a psychology of violence and
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survival. and your comment, is just right on the money. it's really true about what the soldiers were doing. but the one task, a fit of three volumes. you work isn't as good, is brilliant. i hope you get another pulitzer. montgomery, at the command level there is enough egomaniac to go around. but montgomery took the cake. your descriptions of the political rigmarole that went on within a just impeccable. i have a laugh sometimes. confirm another command waste. comment on how you personally felt about montgomery. have you ever thought about
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putting your political x-ray eyes on to the vietnam war? thanks. ." >> guest: thank you for your kind comments. montgomery is a piece of work. there's no doubt about it. this time for somebody to take a good look vietnam. i think you can believe that 40 years after the fact, while there so many veterans still alive, there are documents that were classified for a long time that an hour on classified. the time may be right for somebody to take on vietnam. think the best book, the bright and shining line cannot in 1988, my belief. it will be me. and picked a different war. and looking at the revolution. i can only do one of the time. maybe it down. we will see. montgomery, gosh. think it's important to recognize first that have a very
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saucepot for him. this father is a bishop of tasmania. he has an awful mother. she's kind of loveless. of. and a. a kind of had to make his own way. there's an emotional fragility about him that plays out and montgomery's psyche as a kind of self-absorbed. what we see with montgomery is a guy who's very much involved with himself and has poor social skills are recognizing how others see him. he just doesn't pick up the queues like you would hope. montgomery is important to the british empire and the sense
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that churchill's government is on the ropes and north africa. is not clear the montgomery, the british army is going to survive in egypt in 1942. montgomery is sent to take over the eighth army. he does when a signal victory. churchill thereafter is forever and is debt. churchill has no illusions about montgomery as a difficult character. a german general is captured. someone told churchill but he had been invited by montgomery to have lunch. churchill said i to have died with montgomery. eisenhower had to deal with this guy from north africa through sicily. in italy and so they both leave the end of 1943 to prepare for the invasion of normandy. it's a great trial of eisenhower's generalship and an
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even greater trial of his skills as a politician. this is why eisenhower is supreme commander. roosevelt says is the best politician. part of being a politician is holding together a coalition of all the centrifugal forces that will, tried to pull apart. eisenhower and montgomery almost his fall apart from a fall away from each other to the extent that eisenhower was to have much calmer released. pommels comes about. it does not. it's a tribute to eisenhower that he is able to finesse this somehow. i must say, he is trephine to write it down. >> host: where does charles -- charles de gaulle fit into this? >> guest: another prima donna with a great deal. very good at dealing with the french.
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a tyrant in the making. he thinks is not really a democrat. he does not want to acknowledge that charles de gaulle is, in fact, the legitimate head of pre france. broad popular support among frenchmen. he is really the only guy you can deal with. he sees that he has a certain legitimacy. again, charles de gaulle can be insufferable, but eisenhower is capable of turning the other cheek there. basically harnessing charles de gaulle and the forces of charles de gaulle to a common good. >> host: speaking of general eisenhower, august 1944 from "the guns at last light: the war in western europe, 1944-1945", post the day. nor was eisenhower much help. the supreme commander had proven and in different field marshal in tunisia and during the
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planning. now he continued in that deficiency, watching passively for more than a week without recognizing or rectifying the command shortcomings of his two chief lieutenants. >> guest: eisenhower is not a very good field marshal. he's not a natural battle captain. he does not see the field especially in temporarily the way great captains to like napoleon. he does not have the ability to dominate a battlefield. does not his job. his job, as you defined it is to be chairman of the board. thus the phrase he uses. he's chairman of largest marshall enterprise on earth, and his task is to hold together this coalition against all the centrifugal forces. his job is to provide the beings and bullets necessary to win the war.
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find the right man who can lead other man in the dark good night. the right man who are the battlefield commanders that he needs. that think she's brilliant. i give him credit where credit is due. i'm willing to call a spade a spade and say that there are occasions, including the suez pocket where he simply does not see what's happening on the battlefield. he does not intervene. the streets of messina. he does not feel that the germans would get away. several occasions when he simply does not show the skills needed to qualify as a great captain. that's the case. does not his job. we erse -- >> host: we are in on. what are your thoughts about his service? >> guest: he's in all three of them. i love writing about him.
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an extraordinary character. here is someone who father is the 26 president. spends most of this adult life trying to live a to a father who is carved on mount rushmore. he volunteers for world war one. he performs rather heroically. he's wounded in the war. between the wars his very accomplished. one of the founders of the american legion. he publishes books. he's with doubleday. the chairman of american express, the governor general of the philippines and twitter rico, and explore. he is extraordinary. and then world war ii comes around and he volunteers to go back in the uniform. at utah beach, been in north africa, been in sicily. there are relieved of command of the first division, assistant division commander. prices start, but he's given a
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second chance. he comes back with the fourth division. he's in the first wave utah beach. he recognizes that the landings are going badly, that the parents and navigation errors have pushed them off course. he basically tells his men as they land under fire, will start the war from here. he never knows because he dies of a heart attack a little more than a month later in normandy in july 1944 that he will be awarded the medal of honor and that he is going to get his own division, the 90th division. eisenhower just proved it. he's an extraordinary character to write about. like you guys, i appreciate him for what he is. he's a beautiful rider. his letters home to his wife fantastic. i hate to say goodbye to him when he dies in july 1944. >> host: good afternoon.
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>> caller: hello. i read two of your books. the first of the trilogy. on well into the third, enjoying them. have two questions. the first one is about lloyd free know, the commander of the second corps. the allies try to cut off the germans. they fail to do that in their rush from the invasion area. they were in sort of disarray. they're for defensive positions. they had to defend quite a long front. now there rommel launched his famous passerine pass which was a disaster, but he was replaced after that as commander of the second corps. bradley recommended is
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replacement. eisenhower had been pretty satisfied with an and said positive things about him up until then. my question, i guess, do you think he was just a fall guy? do you have any other insight? >> guest: well, thanks. i think he was the wrong man for the job. i think he demonstrated that aptly. it took eisenhower a while to recognize that. eisenhower, when the commander has been sent to him by george marshall, the chief of staff, who is not only eisenhower superior but ten years older. eisenhower reveres and. and when marshall and leslie j. mcnair, the chief of army ground forces send him out as effectively the senior combat leader from the u.s. army, eisenhower is going to take a while to recognize that this guy is not up to snuff.
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there were suspicions. eisenhower came to share them. he may have been a physical cowardice. i don't know if that's true cause. i don't think the evidence is there to make that kind of damning charge against him. there is ample evidence that he is not the guy to lead the second corps. when the cancer in pass essentially on february 14th, 1943, he's nearly paralyzed. 100 miles back from the front. taking a very precious engineering resources, from the side of the quarry. they're tunneling. this is the scale. recognizes death. he's relieved.
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woman. >> host: a promise luggage to your phone bill. stick with this for a few more minutes hopes the long gray line. 1989, crusade. chemlawn 93. the beginning of the liberation trilogy. north africa 2002, and the company of soldiers. a chronicle of combat. 2004. the final in detergent half
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c-span covered rick atkinson talking about war hirrespondents. >> this is really a matter of keeping faith. that's when it comes down to. the issue has come up recently. i consider myself a recovering journalist. for four years have not worked in the newsroom. i read books full time. i read books specifically about world war two. i know a lot about war correspondence. the issue has come up again recent winehouse. a crisis of sorts. i found myself examining my own motivations. my own relationship to the military relationship to journalism even though i consider myself a story in her. i decided sometime a couple of months ago that a push comes to
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shove high wind to be a part of this. and just turned 50. my knees down band as well as they used to. at least to a comfortable life here in washington. i have two teenage kids. why do we do this? and i find -- hoping, planning to deploy with the hundred and first -- 101st airborne. it's really part of my obligation to those who serve. it's also part of my obligation to those here at home to china tell the story as they said, as completely and fairly as possible to tell in this completely as you can in no way it honors the service of those who serve without being coopted by the military. and there were not a whole lot of people who can do that.
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i'm trying to tow the fine line between being part of the institution of the military and representing, even though no one elected us, the interests of the larger republic which falls on a fairly small group of people. in this case war correspondents. i think that's an important duty , an important responsibility. i think it's incumbent on those who are capable of doing it, are willing to do it, refine and attractiveness about this kind of work to go ahead and do when you can. ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ >> host: and "in-depth" continues with rick atkinson. the next call for him comes from russell in connecticut. russell is a veteran of world war two. >> caller: hello. >> host: hi, russell. how're you, sir? >> caller: on fine, thank you. thank you for taking my call. i was commanding officer of a gunboat. >> host: you have to turn down the volume of your tv, sir. just listen to your phone. >> caller: i was commanding officer of a gun but in the south pacific in world war ii and navigator for a transport squadron. in the middle east north africa during korea.
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so i have just finished manchester's third volume on churchill, and i wondered what your reaction was to that book. >> guest: thank you, russell. i don't have any reaction because i have not read it yet. i read the first two. then of course manchester died before refinish the third one. i no there was a co-writer of the third. i have not gotten around to reading yet. i will. it's on my list. >> host: the next call comes from guy in colorado. your on with rick atkinson. please go ahead. >> caller: it's a privilege to speak with you. i've read and enjoyed your books. i appreciate you. i also read with the old breed, famous for its first person.
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marine corps infantry men fighting in the pacific. i was quite moved by it. my question is, can you recommend a similar book? written by an american soldier who fought in the european theater. >> guest: well, no, i rely on first-person accounts that have been written by guys in europe and by journalists. i use journalists more than most historians because most probably was one. they're also paid. the underpaid, professional observers. al-anon and heavily. the people you know like ernie pyle. the people you don't know in all probability. an australian journalist who wrote about new guinea but then was sent to cover the war in europe with pad this third army.
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he wrote a really his wonderful book and have a list on the website. books the recommend, both by historians but also some first-person accounts. there's nothing quite his book. there's some good personal accounts by soldiers and all levels and some pretty big memoirs. he's a general. he holds up pretty well. bradley wrote to members. the soldiers' story in the general story. there's nothing that quite as the residence and the greatness. >> host: you mentioned. from the day of battle she --
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this is attorney pile in. i looked at it this way. by having only a small army in italy, more powerful forces in england. by sacrificing a few thousand lives we would save a half a million lives in your if those things are true then it was best as it was. i was sure there were true. alley to look at that way or else i couldn't bear to think of all. >> guest: that's incredibly poignant. that's one of the reasons he has great power. you just feel that he's a guy that is bearing gasol in a way it is unique. i found my admiration for him also only deepens. here's a guy from indiana who ends up in washington writing about aviation and things before the war.
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someone accidently becomes a war correspondent. britain millions before the war began. of course he's got a great knack of empathy. his sympathy is always with the grunts, with the enlisted man, with the infantrymen. he is often with them. he goes through hardship on like other correspondence to do it as intently on for as long. this is a guy in his 40's. he's no spring chicken. he's not a healthy man. he drinks too much. he weighs maybe a hundred pounds soaking wet. so he's not the robust character. yet here he's living this awful life with other infantrymen. of course the love of for it. they respect him. they admire him. he's a beautiful rider. he writes so much there is inevitably sunshine can there. passages like that are so eliminating and touching and
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vibrant that i just find he leaves the european theater, had enough, he's in paris for the liberation of paris and does not enjoy at all because he is so seared by everything he has seen and been through. he simply has lost the ability to enjoy life even in those moments where is participating. he goes in says goodbye. everybody comments on how badly look spivvy comes home. he thinks he's through with the war and ends up in the pacific. of course he's killed on a little island late in the war in the spring of 1945. his grave in honolulu for anyone who finds himself as an ally. i lived there is a kid. and remember as an 11 year-old kid my father taking me. it's very, very moving. even if you're 11 years old.
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for us to remember the war we ought to remember party pile. >> host: and other "in "the guns at last light: the war in western europe, 1944-1945". he goes on to his wife. if i hear that word ever again and will be to send a something like this. >> guest: yes. soldiers did on is there's after a walk. profanity is one of the things. he was not a man he did not occasionally use a 4-letter word himself. anyone who's been around soldiers a lot as i have, the intensity of that culture and particularly if you're older, a generation older s.c. was, it can cause you some sense of grievance. there is this outcry.
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i'm really tired of being around these guys, but i'm stuck with them for the rest of the war. >> host: if you are world war ii veteran and would like to talk with rick atkinson about his liberation trilogy :. the next call comes from martha in maine. >> caller: hello. thanks again for the wonderful three hours. it's an honor to talk to a journalist who writes history. i have become ensconced in my history reading, and this summer i'm reading nathaniel show barracks bunker hill. as still can't believe washington train during the french and indian war and ended up working with general gage. when general washington was appointed for our american revolutionary war fiske's --
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here he is in boston. washington is going in and general gage is retreating with the american revolution. i'm just amazed at all of this. >> host: martha, to you have a question? >> caller: i want to ask about all these soldiers that are hesitant to fire the first shot. apparently at lexington there was this hesitancy, and it makes me think of fort sumter and the civil war. nobody wants to fire the first shot. >> guest: well, there were plenty of shots fired in world war ii. there was a book that was published after the war debt estimated that a substantial number of soldiers in combat never fired a shot, that as many as -- i can remember the figure precisely, but roughly
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25 percent simply did not fire their weapons because there were too frightened or just simply did not have the opportunity. that's a different kind of thing and you're talking about, but certainly in world war ii there was never a reluctance for the first shot to be fired once the war is well underway. i can't comment about lexington. >> host: tony is in san diego. hello. >> caller: rick atkinson, i enjoyed "the long grey line" some months that inspired me to go on to the military academy. with that being said, i'd like to make a comment about what that gentleman who fought at the regina said the bus service academies and abusing the women. i just feel like the media really is a doing a good job covering the story. i went to the academy.
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we sat through hundreds and hundreds of hours of sexual prevention. we could even sit on the same horizontal piece of furniture is a female cadet. we're talking about an environment that is so controlled and rigid. i just don't know what more the academy can do. at think the media is so eager to jump on this and say the academy is fostering an environment of sexual abuse. it just doesn't ring true with any of my experience at the academy. >> guest: thank you for your call. i think it's not true for the overwhelming share of cadets and midshipmen. the washington post today, there's a story by -- about a mother of a female midshipman who alleges that she was raped by three other midshipmen. it's appalling. once is too often. it's not to say that it is
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rampant. it's not to say that most cadets, most soldiers, most midshipmen, most sailors don't recognize the right thing to do and wouldn't intervene given the opportunity to stop this sort of behavior. you know, it may be that the rigid controls a part of the problem in the long run. certainly the class of 1966, for example. it's all male. it's hot house environment that does not really allow young 19, 20 year-old man to have what most of the rest of us would consider normal interactions with female students. it's a wonder that the attitudes that many kids have are not more distorted from there.
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since the class of 1980 at the academy's. the academy's certainly has changed a lot about race and gender and so on. i would never argue -- and i don't think anybody would argue that this is preponderant, this bad behavior. it's just incumbent on the nation to deal with this. the 21st century is a different place when it comes to the role of women in our culture , including our institutional culture, places like the military academy. >> host: this is from bill ryan, an e-mail. i have always had an unanswered question about the d-day invasion. i no there was plenty of pre invasion intelligence covering all aspects of normandy, so i am perplexed that the allies were so unprepared for the hedgerows which hindered there in vance
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and increase the casualties. the have any insight? >> guest: thank you for the good question. it is perplexing. part of the issue is that so much attention is paid to getting across the beaches. we see this in the earlier invasions' in north africa and sicily, salerno. the ball game initially is just to get a foothold, to get a beachhead. consequently they don't give much thought to what comes next. in the case of normandy, yes. and the right about how there were studies the recognized that normandie, particularly the american part of the invasion sector have this topographical oddity. the headdress have been built up over the centuries by farmers clearing fields and pushing rocks and debris into walls essentially. from those walls grow vines and
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trees in their virtually impenetrable. those who bet in the south pacific at guadalcanal were reminded of the jungle even though there was a knowledge of this kind of terrain that there were going to encounter, there had not been sufficient thinking by those who should have been thinking about it of how will get through it and how this is going to complicate our lives and now it's a nasty place to fight. omar bradley, for example, says that he was vaguely aware of it but could not begin to imagine how bad it was going to be. well, that's a failure of intelligence and imagination. he should have been aware of it. there were studies done that were presented tell more bradley and other senior commanders saying, look, this is going to be on like anything you've seen before. these are not english hedges there were neatly clipped. these were fortresses.
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to figure out exactly how we're going to deal with it is something we need to be thinking about months before the invasion well, it did not happen. it really requires a series of improvisations by american soldiers to come up with ways of blasting through these hedgerows in no way that allowed them to fight on. >> host: here's a quote from a german general from the day of battle. ever cheeky for a man who had lost both the battle and the war would observe on september 1945 that anglo american commanders appeared bound to their fixed planned opportunities to strike at my flanks or overlooked or disregarded, although german divisions of the highest fighting quality were tied down in italy at a time that there were urgently needed in the french coastal areas. >> guest: yap. he's writing this money is in jail.
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he is in jail for years because -- is one of the finest german field commanders, but he is cheeky. it takes real heads but to be offering that kind of critique of a guy who has just thrashed you badly and imprison do. but there's a point he is making. opportunities are messed. german generals are sometimes perplexed by the lack of imagination and a lack of boldness of allied generals. there is something to that. i mean, the point is this. there's been an argument going on for 70 years that when a german battalion our regiment fought an american battalion our regiment, the germans tended to be taxed -- tactically superior. so what? this is not what global war is about to read is not about tactical confidence that the small unit level. it's about a clash of systems. which system can produce the men
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and women capable of producing the logistics', the transportation of the material support? which system can produce the commanders that can affect victory on the battlefield? which system can design, transport, and detonate an atomic bomb. the germans could not muster the wherewithal to cross the english channel which at its narrowest is 21 miles wide to invade england in 1940. the american armed forces are projecting power into the pacific. so that notion of tactical superiority by the germans is really in my opinion beside the point. >> host: where they committed not seize or army man? >> guest: there were army man who for the most part were committed not cease. not in the sense of being party
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members perce but certainly under the sway of the fuehrer and certainly willing to benefit from nazi apiology. ruml lived in a house that had been confiscated by -- from a jewish family. kesselring did not step in to stop the deportation of jews from italy or from north africa for that matter. you know, for german generals to claim, as so many did after the war, that there were simple soldiers following orders and not part of the ideologies and some house segregated, this is falls. very much a part of the death machine of the third reich. that is why he is a prison.
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>> host: you're watching book tv on c-span2. this is our "in-depth" program. hello, here. >> caller: thank you for your books, mr. atkinson. the premise of my question is, there seems to be an extraordinary sustained and even burgeoning interest in world war ii. growing up in the 30's it did not see regarding the civil war, let alone world war one. i wonder your perspective, what factors you attribute to the sustained interest. >> guest: thank you for that question. i think it comes in cycles. there was an interest in the civil war, a resurgent interest in the 1890's. certainly we saw interests with ken burns. there is no shortage of the history is coming out about
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lincoln and the civil war in someone. i think that waves of it, along. in the case of world war ii, of course, it was 70 years more less after the fact. i believe that will we're seeing now of the 16 million who are in uniform, about 1 million american veterans still alive. and they're dying at the rate of about 800 per day. next year the number will slip to a million for the first time. so the generation inevitably is slipping away. they're passing over. i think we're finding children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren who are keen to understand what their fathers, grandfathers, great grandfathers did in part because it's part of their heritage, part of the patrimony. as part of understanding who we are, where we came from.
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world war two in princess anne very profound ways to this day. impressed the way we think about gender. the way we think about our role in the world. we will never be isolationist again. all of this derived from world war ii, and nothing people interested in that just as they are interested in their own personal family histories. so i think that helps to feed this ongoing fascination with the. finally, it's the greatest catastrophe in human history. 60 million dead. hard not to watch a train wreck. hard to look away when you see something as grotesque as world war ii on a scale. and there is also a feeling that we are on the side of the angels here. there is good and evil. you can differentiate between
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the two rather more easily than you often can in contemporary life and conflict. there is no doubt that we were on the side of good. the forces of liberation, even though many bad things happened. i think people find that has an enduring appeal. >> host: this e-mail, in your view how much did the strategic bombing campaign by the british and americans contribute to the defeat of nazi germany? what was the casualty rate? something you read about. >> guest: thank you, dick. >> host: don. >> guest: don? >> host: i'm sorry. if i said dick, i apologize. >> guest: the strategic air campaign is actually in valuable these are large bombers flown by the british and americans primarily. flying over german cities for
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german factories or other strategic targets. there was a bitter dispute over precisely how they should carry it out. the british flew mostly at night they believe that bombing cities was most effective in trying to whittle away german morale. they had the germans essentially implode. the americans flew mostly by day and believe that hitting certain strategic targets, particularly well was the achilles heel of the german war machine. that proved to be true. it is absolutely vital in understanding how the ground forces are able to eventually prevail to know that these air forces have for years by the time we get to 1945 and are in germany been hammering all of this panoply of targets.
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the casualties were staggering. the odds of surviving and filling your quota which kept going up. initially it was 25 missions you had to fly. then it was raised to 30. thirty-five. the odds of filling those 30 missions, 35 missions and going home became pretty dire. you found that there were few professions within the profession of arms that were as dangerous as being a crewman on a b17, for example. it was extremely hazardous flying against both german fighter planes and german flak batteries. >> host: of world war ii veteran living in lafayette, louisiana. you're on book tv with author rick atkinson. >> caller: they misquoted you. i'm not a veteran of that war, but i wanted to pay tribute, if
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i could, to some dear friends of mine who are gone now his name is go down in history. they were very -- my engineer was one of the 802nd and 101st airborne paratroopers that was at normandie. on never forget the tears in his eyes when he said, yes, our nation was to take the guns. i lost about 100 of my friends doing so, and there were not even there. then he went to market garden where he was not mortally wounded because she lived through it, but seriously wounded in taking a bridge, the last bridge. and my uncle who was in patton's army throughout the campaign and lived through it and left his general but said this of his soldiers. we have a serious problem with
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people shooting themselves in the foot. he was actually incensed about it. that's why he slapped the man. he loved his general. he said a lot of our boys died, but not because we weren't fighting. >> host: were going to leave your comments there. we appreciate your calling in. this e-mail from atlanta, i'm looking forward to hearing the speech in atlanta, she says. in 1944 and 45 hours a child of eight in northern italy. my family had moved to a small village to get away from the bombing. often, always at night, we were visited either by the partisans looking for food, of which we had very little, or by the fascists who were looking for the partisans. at these time we, the kids, she writes, were always shuffled away in the bedroom out of sight. we still could hear everything
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and were scared. my question is, how effective was the role of the resistance and the war? >> guest: talking specifically about italy there, every occupy country had its own flavor of resistance. particularly in italy it's not until you get into northern italy in the last year of the war from the summer of 1944 to may 45 that to become a formidable force. they harass the german occupiers. they blow train tracks and bridges. they ambushed patrols. they became pretty formidable and were aided by the l.a. says, the forerunner to the cia and by their british counterparts. so they play a role. it's not a decisive role because there are not enough of them.
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obviously it's very hazardous. the germans are absolutely worthless. who were likely to be summarily executed. in france it's a bigger network. again, it's only the last year of the war when a player will because prior to that there was simply buried little partisan activity that really put a dent in the germans. again, you have to be incredibly brave to participate in the french resistance because the germans would go through and in several cases execute everyone in the village if in fact the partisans had been active in an area. again, it is not decisive. i think it's important to acknowledge them and recognize that the player will in southern france especially. american agents, soldiers who would parachute and. there would rendezvous with the french resistance units and help in various ways, instruct them
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in explosives and someone. it is not what decided the battle for france, but it is an important part of keeping the pressure on the germans and keeping them uneasy and making them sleep very lightly at night in some instances. >> host: jeff meet hot springs village, arkansas. e-mail, the first question, why in your opinion didn't eisenhower and bradley better heed the warning signs that led to the battle of the bulge? secondly, what do you think of likes decision to let the russians take? >> guest: in the first one, the warning signs were fairly opaque. it's easy to say in retrospect it you could see the germans were massing along that border along the are dense and belgium and luxembourg. at that time there was a belief that the germans had been so thoroughly battered in their flight across france that they lack the wherewithal to put together this kind of 3-army
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offensive that took place in the beginning of december 16th. there was also an overreliance on the british ability to intercept and decrypt the most secret german radio traffic, military radio traffic. if you did not hear it there is a belief it had not happened. all of the planning for the offensive, the battle of the bulge was done face-to-face, basically, or by a written message. ..

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