Tag Archives: Richard

5 Held in Plot to Bug Democrats’ Office Here

By Alfred E. Lewis
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 18, 1972
And so began Watergate, 42 years ago tomorrow. I was in my early teens during the last year of Richard Nixon’s first term, 15 when he resigned on a hot & humid August 9, 1974. I was certainly politically aware and had followed the course of the investigation during the two years from break-in to resignation; but I have to admit that at the time I don’t think I fully appreciated Watergate’s significance.  From my POV, Watergate and the doings of CREEP – that’s right, CREEP the Committee to Reelect the President – were a string of related events and reactions, but not something that could be isolated as a singular historic event like an assassination or landing on the moon.
So, what is Watergate? It’s kind of like manna from heaven, it can be many things;
  • the Washington DC apartment complex that housed the headquarters of the DNC – the Democratic National Committee
  • the burglary and bugging of the DNC offices at the Watergate (twice actually)
  • the denials and cover-up that followed after investigators connected the burglars to CREEP
  • the discovery and exposure (Woodward, Bernstein, Rather, etc.) of the roles prominent members of the cabinet and advisers to the President played in investigating opposition to the President and how they used the executive branch for illegal partisan political purposes.

Finally Watergate is the President of the United States caught up in his own fears, insisting he’d done nothing wrong, but not being able to convince anyone outside of his most partisan supporters.  Much of what Richard Nixon did wasn’t unique or pioneering in terms of political wrongdoing, stretching the bounds of credibility and abusing Executive Privilege, but as the expression goes; he got caught.

If such a thing is possible, I’m reminiscing here about the Watergate era because it all came back to me after watching Frost Nixon a few weeks ago; it was a memory tripwire.  It wasn’t abstract history like watching a documentary or infotainment about McCarthy or Truman; I read and heard about Watergate (in all its guises) almost everyday as a teen (no need to add impressionable as a qualifier, it should be assumed.)  The memories stuck. In the days before C-Span or CNN, we watched Sam Ervin preside over the televised proceedings of the  Senate Watergate Committee on network TV while in school; ringside seats for Civics and US Government without needing a textbook.  For all its low-points and revelations, we wanted to believe Watergate also had a lesson; that the system worked. That the independent branches of government worked, that the Press plays an important role in informing and examining, and that the interests of the public will be represented and discharged by elected public servants regardless of party and affiliation as exemplified by Senators Ervin and Baker.

The legacy of Watergate is political and cultural. For those of you too young to have observed it, you have Watergate to thank for the ubiquitous -gate suffix for any and all snafus and wrongdoings that have occurred since the mid 70s.  There is also a legacy of film and literature that capture the timelines and complexities of the episode / era.

Frost Nixon [DVD]
Cover ImageRichard Nixon (Frank Langella) is the disgraced president with a legacy to save. David Frost (Michael Sheen) is a jet-setting television personality with a name to make. This is the legendary battle between the two men and the historic encounter that changed both their lives.

Cover ImageFrost/Nixon the original Watergate interviews [DVD]
“Includes in-depth interviews of U.S. President Richard Nixon by Sir David Frost in May, 1977 regarding the infamous Watergate scandal, followed by a segment, “Behind the scenes.” That final segment features footage from 2007 of Frost discussing “clinching the interviews, Nixon’s advisors, ground rules, on location, Nixon’s reaction, and the final meeting” he had with Nixon at San Clemente.”

All the president’s men / Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward
The two young “Washington Post” reporters whose investigative journalism smashed the Watergate scandal wide open tell the whole behind-the-scenes drama the way it really happened. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were assigned to cover the breakin at the Watergate. The two men soon learned that this was not a simple http://librarycatalog.einetwork.net/bookcover.php?id=.b26394030&isn=141981706X&size=large&upc=&oclc=&category=&format=burglary. Woodward and Bernstein picked up a trail of money, secrecy and high-level pressure that implicated the men closest to Richard Nixon and then the President himself.
Over the months, Woodward met secretly with Deep Throat, now perhaps America’s most famous still-anonymous source. 

All the President’s Men [DVD]
Based on the book by Carl Bernstein and Bod Woodward whose roles are played by Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford.

The Palace guard / Dan Rather
The first Watergate book I picked up. Rather, the CBS News White House correspondent covering the Nixon White House, starts his recitation with an introduction to who was behind who in the administration.  Not the Secretary of Defense or Head of the NSA (Henry Kissinger BTW,) but rather the men who controlled access to the President, set agendas, and (important to keep in mind in this case) provide the President plausible deniability; keep him officially out of the decision-making loop when the decisions are ethically (or legally) questionable.  This was my first exposure to the likes of White House Chief of Staff H.R. Bob Haldemann, John Erlichman, Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs, and of course Henry Kissinger the President’s National Security Adviser.  At the time they were euphemistically referred to as the Berlin Wall.  Given his role in formulating international policy to the exclusion of all domestic politics, Dr. Kissinger seems to have avoided any taint by Watergate.

Washington Journal / Elizabeth Drew
“Forty years after the tumultuous events that led to Richard Nixon’s historic journaldownfall, a new edition of Elizabeth Drew’s Washington Journal,
featuring a brilliant new afterword. Originally published soon
after Richard Nixon’s resignation, Elizabeth Drew’s Washington Journal is a landmark work of political journalism. Keenly observed and hugely insightful, Washington Journal opens in 1973 and follows the deterioration of Richard Nixon’s presidency in real time.”

DOONESBURY-1973-strip

Just a note. The Doonebury strip above appeared on May 29, 1973. In several newspapers Doonesbury was either dropped for a time, or moved from the Comics section to the editorial pages. The Washington Post didn’t show it at all, until last year.

– Richard

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Lies, Damn Lies, and Librarians

You wouldn’t know the truth if it kicked you in the head. – Hitch

I sometimes wonder if the First Amendment should be conditional, though I’m not sure what the criteria or who the arbiter would be.  It can’t be based on education; too many supposedly educated people are horse’s patooties. It goes without saying that it cannot be left up to government at any level or to any party. So, even though I empathize with the Hamiltonians rather than the Jeffersonians, I’ll defer to Jefferson on this one.

Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

hamilton

Alexander Hamilton

Where did this originate from to throw my otherwise good nature off (the time is truly ripe for a baseball piece, isn’t it?) I’m sure many of you have online affinity or discussion groups you participate in or observe.  If you’re a Facebook user, you’re used to seeing someone’s snippet of an idea that may or may not convey a profound level of intellectual thought.  At any rate my friends (real and FB imaginary) and I float in that direction rather than posting inane pictures of our cats, dogs and other drooling pets. One of the things I try to do is to mix-up the choir a little bit. Where’s the fun in engaging in discourse if everyone has the same worldview? Ragging on the opposition in a unanimous voice has to get boring, doesn’t it? However, every so often something happens, or someone writes / posts something that leaves you honestly concluding “the zombie apocalypse would be a breath of fresh air.” (I was actually much harsher in an expletive laden sort of way.)  Here’s what was posted:

Saw this and a succession of commentary and my sense of what’s right & wrong went into skeptical overdrive.  Needless to say, using rather common Librarian superpowers (readily available to mere mortals, but don’t tell anyone,) I satisfied myself and some other well intentioned folk that former Fed chief Greenspan never said this, and never endorsed this kind of economic view in any forum.

What Alan Greenspan did do, in testimony before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs in 1997, was outline several of the reasons why inflation was still low to non-existent in the previous 3-4 year period.  Among the reasons he cited and the evidence provided were a recent history of longer union contracts, fewer labor-management conflicts and fewer workers moving between jobs.  He also concluded that the then current phenomena of worker insecurity needed to be further studied to find fully accurate causes.  I will say, he did it in florid and terribly dry fashion –

“The reluctance of workers to leave their jobs to seek other employment as the labor market tightened has provided further evidence of such concern, as has the tendency toward longer labor union contracts. For many decades, contracts rarely exceeded three years. Today, one can point to five- and six-year contracts–contracts that are commonly characterized by an emphasis on job security and that involve only modest wage increases. The low level of work stoppages of recent years also attests to concern about job security.”

The link above takes you to the catalog record for our holdings (on fiche) of the hearings that Chairman Greenspan appeared before, but you can also go one additional step to prove a point (and pass on the fiche.)

1. Testimony of Chairman Alan Greenspan; The Federal Reserve’s semiannual monetary policy report, Before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, U.S. Senate. February 26, 1997

2. Job Insecurity of Workers Is a Big Factor in Fed Policy By Louis Uchitelle –New York Times. February 27, 1997

We did this once before around here, only the subject was then Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and the accusation was that as Mayor of Wasilla, she had actively pursued the censoring of materials from the Wasilla Library.  A little legwork by library staff debunked that story too.  I am a firm believer in letting the honest facts speak for themselves, and letting people prove they aren’t worthy of my time or consideration by dint of their real sins, not the imagined ones.

– Richard

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What Happened to Standards?

Each source you cite in the paper must appear in your reference list; likewise, each entry in the reference list must be cited in your text. –  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).

I have a daughter in 11th grade at Pittsburgh Allderdice. As she was finishing last semester and preparing for finals she was completing a section in American History about slavery, state’s-rights, and the run-up to the Civil War.  Her class had to complete a 15 event timeline project – What (in the student’s opinion) were the most significant events in a 30 or 40 year period that ended with the establishment of the Confederacy?  They had to describe in 1-2 paragraphs what happened and why they felt it was significant.  Do you know what? Even though it was an imaginative and artistic project with visual appeal, they had to cite their sources; they had to assemble a bibliography. Back when I walked to school both ways uphill in the snow, we adhered to the same standard. You cited your work, you informed the reader of where and how you elicited the information (reading, interviews, broadcasts) by which you as the writer were further informing the reader and/or drawing conclusions.

Why the background? I have a problem with the Da Capo Press.  I just finished Honor and Betrayal by Patrick Robinson, published by the De Capo Press. Honor and Betrayal is, as the cover states, “The untold story of the Navy SEALs who captured the “Butcher of Fallujah”- and the shameful ordeal they later endured.”

On March 31, 2004, four American contractors employed by Blackwater Security Consulting were ambushed and killed; their bodies brutalized, burned and then dragged through Fallujah before being hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River.  In 2009 the United States caught up with the major leader of the insurgency in Fallujah – Ahmad Hashim Abd al-Isawi – the same man who organized the assault and desecration of the ambushed Blackwater staff. Al-Isawi is considered responsible for several thousand deaths in Anbar province, almost all of them Iraqi.  In a nighttime raid beautifully retold in the book, the SEALS arrested al-Isawi and brought him back to Camp Schwedler just outside of Fallujah.

Within three days, three of the SEALs who’d participated in the capture and arrest of al-Isawi were accused of assaulting and injuring him while in captivity.  What then ensues is a seven month ordeal that culminates in three Courts Martial, requested by the defendants as the their only option to actually prove their innocence and clear their names.  Ultimately all three, after two trials in Iraq and one in Virginia, were found innocent of all charges.  There is even a Pittsburgh connection. One of the primary Navy JAG (Judge Advocate General) officers representing the SEALs was Lt. Guy Reschenthaler who grew up here, graduated from Law School at Duquesne, and is today the District Judge in Jefferson Hills. There were even the obligatory (and inaccurate) Steeler references made in the book.

My problem with this intriguing 356 page story, one worthy of knowing, is that there isn’t one single footnote, reference, or page of bibliography.  From even the most rudimentary non-fiction perspective, this might as well be Harry Potter or Moby Dick.  Patrick Robinson is a prolific author of fiction work, mostly naval based techno-thrillers. He’s actually a good writer; his stories are pretty compelling and aren’t as techno-geek centric as even Tom Clancy became.  But I’m not sure that he (or his agent, editor, whomever) should have let this work be written to the same standards.  It’s unfortunate, because while Honor and Betrayal is a compelling and even an important read, it can’t be used as an historic work, at least by juniors at Pittsburgh Allderdice.

-Richard

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You Can do That

With the arrival of the Vortex I decided to check on an attic window I replaced last year.  All things considered it seems to be doing what it was designed to do: keep out the elements.  I know it opens easily because I had it open all summer, keeping some air circulating upstairs, and allowing me to reach out . . . to snag leaves and debris in the nearby gutter. The house suffers from a solid case of settling foundation, so almost none of the windows and frames are square anymore.  Time will tell whether or not I was truly successful.

I’d asked several friends, neighbors and Lowe’s/Home Depot guys what their experiences and recommendations were for doing this.  Their answers comprised many similar observations about measuring, cutting, safety, etc.  The single most common theme that colored their comments was that I was going to come away from the effort with one of two outlooks –

1. that replacing a window is difficult but doable, and there’s no reason I can’t do it when I need to.

2. that replacing a window is difficult, and as G-d is my witness, there’s no way on earth I’ll ever do it again.

I’m leaning to number 2, but not with the verve of a true believer.  My problem is – to paraphrase Tevye (Fiddler on the Roof ) “I’ve got 10 windows” (to replace). I’d like to keep the original casement windows everywhere else in the house, so I will have all winter to think about how to do that, while wishing them to ultimately close together.

It doesn’t have to be windows. Once we’re past the winter (pitchers and catchers report in 34 days) there are any number of tasks, chores, repairs, and preparations your house or apartment probably needs. Many of them you may be able to do yourself. If you need help, plans, ideas and suggestions, come talk to us. We can’t do it for you, but we’ll know where to direct you.

When duct tape just isn’t enough : quick fixes for everyday disasters

This easy-to-follow guide will give anyone the basics to tackle those frustrating (and sometimes nerve-wracking) quandaries that crop up around the house. So, whether the issue is a fast repair for a running toilet or a leaking pipe, or a simple way to keep deer, rabbits or moles from destroying  the garden, it’s in here.

Spend-a-little save-a-lot home improvements : money-saving projects anyone can do

Spend-A-Little Save-A-Lot Home Improvements is a book of money-saving projects that anyone can do. Most of us avoid projects like these because we think they are too hard or will cost too much. A range of home improvement projects are broken down into easy steps that will help home owners keep their homes in shape, making them more livable, and sellable.


DIY projects for the self-sufficient homeowner : 25 ways to build a self-reliant lifestyle

Many of these projects require basic materials available at your everyday home center, this book also provides valuable DIY resources for solar, hydro, greenhouse, and gardening needs. Whether you have a city plot or simply pots, this book includes all of the information needed to plan, build, and succeed with greater self-sufficiency.

Black & Decker The Complete Guide to Patios & Walkways: Money-Saving Do-It-Yourself Projects for Improving Outdoor Living Space

The complete guide to patios & walkways : money-saving do-it-yourself projects for improving outdoor living space.

With hundreds of styles of brick and stone easily available, it’s never been easier to build a dream patio—saving thousands of dollars in the process. Complete with detailed photos and step-by-step arranged instructions, Black & Decker Patios & Walkways is recommended as the best choice for its excellent instruction and drainage coverage.

Workinwindows : a guide to the repair and restoration of woowindows 

Working Windows is the only fully illustrated guide to repairing and refinishing every part of an old window, from weather stripping, pulleys, sashes, hopper vents, and casings to old hinges, paint, and glass.  Whether you are a craftsman or a do-it-yourself  homeowner, Working Windows has essential advice and instruction to get your windows looking great and operating smoothly.

Tile style : creating beautiful kitchens,baths, & interiors with tile

This comprehensive guide shows how tile can be used from floors to ceilings, bathrooms to kitchens, as well as in other designs and mosaics. Tile Style is also filled with practical information on choosing, purchasing, installing, and caring for tile.  An extensive appendix section provides home decorators with all they need to know about budgeting a job, hiring an installer or doing it themselves, and maintaining surface tiles.

And my absolute favorite:

How to restore your collector car

How to Restore Your Collector Car has been the ultimate how-to guide for anyone looking to turn a neglected relic into a traffic-stopping collector car. From choosing the right vehicle, purchasing (or renting) the right tools, to entering the finished product in a show, this is the restoration book for the enthusiast who takes pride in not just getting his hands dirty, but in knowing why every bolt was chosen (not to mention how tightly it’s torqued).

– Richard

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The Last Word For 2013

A group of us got together and decided that the last blog post of 2013 should be a shared effort, with each of us offering a notable quote from something he or she read during the 2013 calendar year.  So we each humbly offer you our last words for the year that was 2013.  Just a note: we’ve preserved any idiosyncratic formatting when it seems important to the meaning and impact of the quote.

Scott

In the midst of a tough year I oddly found myself reading Dante for the first time in my life.   Here’s one of many quotes that stuck with me.

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
Inferno, Canto I  by Dante Alighieri

Don

The best invitation to a classic novel ever comes in the form of this quote from the book itself: Steppenwolf, by Hermann Hesse:

Anarchist Evening Entertainment
Magic Theater
Entrance Not For Everybody

For Madmen Only!

Natalie

I am not from West Virginia but I married a true mountain man who grew up in the hollows of the southern part of the state. Reading Dean King’s The Feud over the summer gave me a new perspective of this bloody family history that helped mold the state, its inhabitants and the nation.

Mountains make fighting men. No matter where in the world you go, you’ll find that’s true. – Ralph Stanley

The Feud: The Hatfields & McCoys. The True Story by Dean King; 2013; Forward

Jess

I’m currently reading The Little Women Letters and as to be expected, it’s put me in the mood for Louisa May Alcott‘s original text.  This line has always stuck with me:

I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.

Holly

I can identify with Scott: 2013 was a tough year, so this lady was diving head first into self-help books, while she’d spent most of her life rejecting them.  At the end of the year, I was recommended the best self-help-book-that-isn’t-a-self-help-book: Letters To A Young Poet by Rilke.  Rilke praised solitude so highly, and I’ve found solitude to be a great friend.  So apologies for getting a little emo – but this is the quote hit me the hardest this year. And here’s to 2014, may it bring you all peace, love, healing and good books!

Embrace your solitude and love it. Endure the pain it causes, and try to sing out with it.

Art by Scott M. Fischer, copyright held by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

Art by Scott M. Fischer, copyright held by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

Leigh Anne

There’s a gorgeous quotation near the end of Quiet Dell, Jayne Anne Phillips’s astonishing novel based on actual events, that captures what I’ve been feeling about the darkest nights of the year, and the return of the light. The passage is taken from composer David Lang‘s work “again (after ecclesiastes),” which you can listen to here.

these things make me so tired

I can’t speak, I can’t see, I can’t hear

what happened before will happen again

I forgot it all before

I will forget it all again

Suzy

I took one book with me on my epic bike tour and it was The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (somehow in the midst of all those Women’s Studies classes during undergrad I missed reading it). I’m not sorry because I read it exactly when and where I needed to.

There must be quite a few things a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them. Whenever I’m sad I’m going to die, or so nervous I can’t sleep, or in love with somebody I won’t be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say: “I’ll go take a hot bath.”

Richard

I’ve written about Phlip Caputo’s The Longest Road : Overland In Search Of America, From Key West To The Arctic Ocean before, but it merits another mention.  In an age dominated by “social media”, how connected are we as Americans; how tolerant are we as individuals?  Which is greater, the ties or the divisions? What is it about being Americans that we discover as Caputo, his wife Leslie and their 2 dogs traverse almost 12,000 miles from Key West to the Arctic Circle and back?

“Kaktovic had the architectural charm of a New Jersey warehouse district: a dirt airstrip, a hangar, houses like container boxes with doors and windows.” – Philip Caputo

Irene

In 2013 I fell in love with the illustrations of Kay Nielsen.  Fairytales have always been one of my favorite genres, and his illustrations perfectly capture how beautiful and disturbing the stories are.  The stories in East of the Sun and West of the Moon are more adult than you might imagine, full of violence and even (implied) sex.  Unlike many other fairy tales I’ve read, in which the princess waits for the prince to rescue her, several of these stories feature strong heroines who need to go to great lengths to rescue their handsome princes (or themselves).  In one of my favorites, The White Bear, the heroine is constantly reaffirming her bravery and strength.  This repeated refrain perfectly illustrates what I love about this character:

“Are you afraid?,” said the North Wind.
No, she wasn’t.

Melissa F.

David Levithan‘s newest young adult novel, Two Boys Kissing, is groundbreaking on a level rarely seen. It speaks to the very truth about what it means to be human, to be vulnerable, to be your own true self.  As one of my favorite books of 2013, it’s an incredibly affecting (and very important) read for teens and adults alike.

The first sentence of the truth is always the hardest. Each of us had a first sentence, and most of us found the strength to say it out loud to someone who deserved to hear it. What we hoped, and what we found, was that the second sentence of the truth is always easier than the first, and the third sentence is even easier than that. Suddenly you are speaking the truth in paragraphs, in pages. The fear, the nervousness, is still there, but it is joined by a new confidence. All along, you’ve used the first sentence as a lock. But now you find that it’s the key.

May your 2014 be full of confident first sentences.

spotted at Someecards.com

spotted at someecards.com

Tara

I’ve been a bit of a hermit these past few years, so I found inspiration in 2013 from artist and writer Miranda July to go outside on occasion and take a look around. In her book/art project It Chooses You she writes:

Most of life is offline, and I think it always will be; eating and aching and sleeping and loving happen in the body. But it’s not impossible to imagine losing my appetite for those things; they aren’t always easy, and they take so much time. In twenty years I’d be interviewing air and water and heat just to remember they mattered.

Also, when life gets either too heavy or too dull, a little absurdist British humor never hurts:

“What problems? We’re on the pig’s back, charging through a velvet field.” — Bernard Black, from the BBC television show Black Books

Eric

The following  is the first line of Chapter 3 of  Robert Kaplan’s book Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History. This chapter is about Macedonia. This line encapsulates a lot of how Kaplan looks at the world he navigates in this book. Maybe we can take a tip from him, and not just look at the world around us, but read the world around us. Happy New Year!

The landscape here needs to be read, not just looked at.

Abbey

I read a lot of young adult books and I have loved many of them. However, I find it rare for many other readers to love young adult books. This quote and this book though have stuck with me for a long time, and the book has been enjoyed by many other readers I know, adult fiction and young adult fiction lovers in general.

“That’s the thing about pain,” Augustus said, and then glanced back at me. “It demands to be felt.”

From The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

Maria

My new favorite quote this year relates to all the big changes in my life the last few years, something I instinctively struggle against, preferring the calm waters of routine. As soon as I read it, I instantly felt better.

The only thing constant in life is change. — François de La Rochefoucald, Maxims

Amy

I offer this bit of wisdom from Professor Farnsworth (of Futurama fame) as the perfect antidote for taking-yourself-too-seriously.

There’s no scientific consensus that life is important.

From Into the Wild Green Yonder by, erm, some TV dudes.

Happy New Year!

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“Air raid, Pearl Harbor. This is not a drill!”

Photo of battleship USS West Virginia under attack

USS West Virginia, Pearl Harbor 12/7/1941

Tomorrow marks the 72nd anniversary of the Japanese attack on the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii. The next day President Roosevelt asked for, and received from congress a declaration of war against the Empire of Japan.  On December 11th, Nazi Germany declared war on the United States. America had become an official combatant in World War II.

As a military maneuver the Japanese attack was an almost perfectly executed assault of torpedo and bombing attacks on the anchored US Pacific Fleet, in concert with bombing and strafing attacks on nearby Army and Marine airfields, barracks, and related facilities.  American efforts at guessing Japanese intentions and assuming a competent defensive posture were ineffective, and in the case of the Army Air Corps. counterproductive.  Thinking that local sabotage was a greater threat than an “enemy” attack, instead of being dispersed, aircraft were lined up wingtip to wingtip so they could be guarded more effectively.  It also made them sitting ducks.  Not everything went the Japanese way. Their desired primary targets, the aircraft carriers Enterprise, Lexington, and Saratoga weren’t in port, and the Japanese didn’t damage the submarine fleet or the 4.5 million barrels of bunker oil on hand, needed to keep the fleet at sea. Had the Japanese destroyed that reserve, what was left of the fleet might have had to relocate to the West Coast from Pearl, endangering both Hawaii and our lines of communication to Australia and New Zealand.

What did the Japanese accomplish?

  • 2,402 sailors, soldiers and Marines killed (1,177 from the USS Arizona)
  • 1,247 wounded
  • Four battleships sunk of which two were re-floated, refurbished and returned to service.
  • Three battleships damaged, 1 battleship grounded. all returned to service
  • 2 other ships sunk
  • 3 cruisers damaged
  • 3 destroyers damaged
  • 3 other ships damaged
  • 188 aircraft destroyed
  • 159 aircraft damaged

More significantly, the Japanese united a nation split on whether the then two-year old war with the axis was “our” war or not. Between December 7th and December 8th, the America First movement and isolationist sentiment ceased to have a place at the table of public policy.  What the Japanese did was seen as treacherous and sneaky, without honor – because at the moment of the attack, they were supposedly negotiating in good faith in Washington.  Since they couldn’t decode and type fast enough, the Japanese emissaries – ignorant of the military plans in motion – failed to break off negotiations and deliver a declaration of war before the attack on Hawaii commenced.   Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, planner and commander of the attack, a former Naval Attache to the US and Harvard student knew that offending the Americans sense of fair play was perhaps worse than the actual damage caused.  Said he:

“I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

The story of Pearl Harbor has of course generated historical accounts, memoirs, assessments, literature, fictional accounts and movies.  Wherever your tastes and curiosities lie, it’s worth remembering that there are fewer than 3,000 Pearl Harbor survivors alive today, and the youngest would likely be 88 years old (assuming he lied about his age and was 16 in 1941.)

Nonfiction:

infamy Day of Infamy / Walter Lord

One of the first, and still one of the best historical overviews of the day (along the lines of Cornelius Ryan’s The Longest Day) written for the casual reader.  It’s well written and well researched (for the period it was written in,) though newer research has dated it somewhat.

dawnAt Dawn We Slept / Gordon W. Prange

Through extensive research and interviews with American and Japanese leaders, Gordon Prange has written what is widely regarded as the definitive assessment of the events surrounding the attack on pearl Harbor, and providing first-hand accounts and recollections from both viewpoints.

fdrleads

Pearl Harbor : FDR leads the nation into war / Steven M. Gillon

Historian Steven Gillon provides a vivid, revealing, minute-by-minute account of Roosevelt’s skillful leadership after Pearl Harbor; perhaps the most pivotal event of the twentieth century. Remaining steady and sure-minded, Roosevelt transformed a grave and potentially demoralizing attack into an occasion for national unity and patriotic fervor.

Fiction & Alternative History:

Pearl Harbor: A Novel of December 8th / Newt Gingrich & William Forstchengingrich

Gingrich and Forstchen provide a detailed account of the background and personalities leading up to the Japanese decision to attack the US.  Then they add the what-if scenarios that subtly change what happens as the Japanese follow their successful attack on the fleet with the additional waves to render the Pacific Fleet wholly ineffective, and Hawaii untenable as an anchorage.

Days of Infamy / Harry Turtledoveinfamyturtle

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. In a well written of the type he excels at creating, Turtledove explores the logical “it could have happened scenario”, what if the Japanese followed up their air attack with an invasion and occupation of Hawaii?

From Here to Eternity / James Jonesfrom here

It’s December, 1941 at Schofield Barracks, just north of Pearl Harbor. Private Robert E. Lee Prewitt is a bugler in the US Army. He’s transferred to an infantry unit whose commander is less interested in preparing for war than he is in boxing. But when Prewitt refuses to join the company team, the commander and his sergeant decide to make the bugler’s life hell.

The Cinema:

tora-tora-tora-DVDcover

Tora Tora Tora (1970)

Highly innovative grand and epic film that looks at the preparations for, and the attack itself through the eyes of both the Japanese and American participants, both high and low. From Admirals Yamamoto and Kimmel to Privates Lockard and Elliot (radar operators with no one to warn,) The inevitable unfolds.  Without a doubt the best feature film about Pearl Harbor. Featuring Martin Balsam,  E.G. Marshall, Jason Robards, Takahiro Tamura, James Whitmore, and Sô Yamamura.

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From Here to Eternity (1953)

A fantastic ensemble cast featuring some of Hollywood’s best actors as they’re starting out.  The film is faithful to the novel, capturing the rigidity, frustration and tempo of peacetime barracks’ routine and the seedy allure of Honolulu.  Featuring Ernest Borgnine, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Burt Lancaster, Donna Reed and Frank Sinatra.

affleckpearlPearl Harbor (2001)

Great special effects minimally redeem a love story of brotherly sacrifice that plays footloose with history and made me cringe, though the misdated Battle of Britain scenes were great.  If you’re a connoisseur of long “B” movies, then maybe it’s worth your while.  Features Ben Affleck, Alec Baldwin, Kate Beckinsale, Jennifer Garner, Cuba Gooding Jr., Josh Hartnett, Jon Voight as Pres. Roosevelt.  

– Richard

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What Your Dad Used to Read

I am tall, and I gangle. I look like a loose-jointed, clumsy hundred and eighty. The man who takes a better look at the size of my wrists can make a more accurate guess. When I get up to two twelve I get nervous and hack it back on down to two oh five. As far as clumsiness and reflexes go, I have never had to use a flyswatter in my life.”  – Travis McGee

We are all products of our upbringing.  Many things we embrace, others we reject – sometimes very deliberately.  If it can be said that I discovered reading, it was because of my parents, my dad in particular.  Both of my parents had night tables next to their sides of the bed, and they were both piled with reading materials – mom’s with books, magazines and sections of newspaper. Dad’s was almost entirely books; paperbacks and hardcovers haphazardly stacked, double-stacked and all delicately balanced.  If they’d fallen, I’m sure the floor would have collapsed.  The top layer of books always changed, whether purchased or borrowed from the Great Neck Library – history, biographies, mathematics, fiction; he read everything.  But it was the bottom six levels of books that intrigued me, the ones that always stayed there, like the previous civilization’s layer at an archaeological site.

There were three distinct bodies of content in the subterranean collection. The first was about 5 years of Science Digest, a Reader’s Digest sized monthly (and a similar format) with articles about general science and the history of science.  I think I first learned about “Killer” Bees and Brown Recluse spiders by reading through it – and this would have been the late 60s, early 70s.  But that was just the appetizer. Digging further I found the mother lode of books for guys (no, not what you think, get your minds out of the gutter).  Better than smut, real pulp – Mickey Spillane, and even better than Spillane, John D. McDonald’s Travis McGee.  If you don’t know McGee (and unless you’re a guy over 50,) you probably don’t, Here’s what you need to know. He features in 21 novels written by John D. McDonald between 1964 and 1984, and all the titles are color coded.

image of Travis McGee

Travis McGee

I wanted to be Travis McGee.  I think many of you, once you’ve read 3 or 4 of the series, will want to be McGee too, especially the guys.  Maybe we want to see a little of him in ourselves.  Travis McGee lives in Fort Lauderdale on a custom-made houseboat  named The Busted Flush that he won in a poker game.  McGee’s address as it were, is Slip F-18 at the Bahia Mar Marina.  McGee isn’t a cop or a P.I., and he’s not a wise-guy.  He’s a “Salvage Consultant.”  He finds things (or fixes them) because his clients can’t do it themselves.  They can’t go to the law, or they already have and the system gave up, or came to the wrong conclusion and left honest people hanging. He takes on new cases when the cash runs low, or when the victimized person is an old friend or a damsel in distress.

APurplePlaceDying            Free_Fall_in_Crimson            Plainbrown

McGee is honorable in a way most of us would want to be, and honor and integrity – individual and national – is a significant theme throughout the series.  He’s a philosopher; expounding on the despoliation of Florida, the social ills facing the US, the inability of the unfortunate to get a break, and the honor and ingenuity of the every-man. It’s inferred that he served in Korea, that he played college (and maybe some pro) football, and he’s terminally single but not on the make.  There’s sex, but it’s alluded to, not described.  McGee is matter-of-fact worldly and cautious, but he’s not cynical in the vein of James Lee Burke’s Dave Robichaux – though both characters share a disdain of politicians and corporatism. Florida and Louisiana may share more than the Gulf of Mexico.

McGee is grounded by his nature, but he’s an action guy, a doer.  His impulse check is his friend Meyer, an Economist with an international reputation who also lives at Bahia Mar, on his houseboat the John Meynard Keynes. When it’s blown up (in a failed attempt to kill him,) he replaces it with the Thorstein Veblen. Meyer is cosmopolitan worldly, sometimes filling in the big picture for Travis, other times connecting the banking and legal dots, or finding related bits of information that McGee couldn’t do as easily.

Quick Red Fox            Bright Orange            Tan_and_Sandy_Silence

All this of course with landlines, AM/FM radios and televisions with CRTs (Cathode Ray Tubes.)  Al Gore hadn’t invented the Internet yet, and computers look like double-wide refrigerators with reel-to-reel tapes on them. In short Travis McGee is (in my mind) the anti chick-lit hero; he solves problems, he doesn’t revel in them.  At the end of the day he kicks back with a Boodles over ice, not shaken – not stirred or any of that other fru fru stuff.

McGee also owns a Electric Blue, custom modified Rolls-Royce that’s been converted into a pickup truck.  He calls it Miss Agnes.

– Richard

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