BRIAN LAMB, HOST: A. Scott Berg, author of "Lindbergh," little note in the back of your
book says, `Katharine Hepburn has been your lady bountiful for two
decades.' What's that all about?
Mr. A. SCOTT BERG, Author, "Lindbergh": Well, I've--I've been
lucky enough to have Katharine Hepburn as a friend for 20 years and,
actually, she has two important roles in this particular book. One is
when I was trying to break through to Mrs. Lindbergh and the
Lindbergh family, and I really didn't know anybody who knew Mrs.
Lindbergh, Katharine Hepburn sort of stepped forward and said, `Gee,
you know, I didn't know her, but I had a mutual friend. And I'm sure
I could write her a letter on your behalf.' She said, `Even though we
never met, I think she knows who I am.' I said, `Well, I'm sure she
knows who you are.' And so Ms. Hepburn did write a letter to--to Anne
Morrow Lindbergh, and about a week later is the first time I--I heard
from Mrs. Lindbergh. So I think it had some impact.
The other thing is I had two years of research at Yale in New Haven,
Connecticut, and the library was opened Monday through Friday, so I
was there in Connecticut on weekends and so Ms. Hepburn used to
entertain me every weekend.
LAMB: Where does she live?
Mr. BERG: She lives up the road a piece, up...
LAMB: Near New Haven?
Mr. BERG: Yeah. About a--about a half mile up the road...
LAMB: And--and how did you know her...
Mr. BERG: ...half hour.
LAMB: ...in the first place?
Mr. BERG: I met her about 20 years ago when I was writing my first
book on Maxwell Perkins, and it turns out that Katharine Hepburn
lived, literally, next door to Max Perkins in Manhattan on East 49th
Street. And so when I was 22 years old and just starting out on the
Perkins book, I sent Katharine Hepburn a letter and said, `Do you
think I could come and talk to you and ask you questions about
Perkins?' And she said, `I really don't have enough to--to tell you in
an interview.' But th--she then wrote a two-page letter of--of
reminiscences, and then we just remained in touch. And when the
Perkins book was done, she read it and liked it and asked if we could
meet. So we met and became very good friends.
LAMB: Who is Max Perkins?
Mr. BERG: Max Perkins is the one great book editor in the history of
American literature. And here is a man who single-handedly discovered
and nurtured F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe,
Ring Lardner, James Jones, Margorie Kinnan Rawlings, Taylor Caldwell,
20 of the greatest writers in this century. One man worked with them
all, and that began as my senior thesis at Princeton and it just kept
growing into a book.
LAMB: Everybody wants to ask--wants me to ask you, what does the A in
A. Scott Berg stand for, and why don't you use it?
Mr. BERG: A stands for Andrew. It's a waste of a wonderful name on
me. I've always been Scott or A. Scott. When I was 15, I developed
a passion for F. Scott Fitzgerald, and my mother told me, in fact,
that I had been named for F. Scott Fitzgerald, because she had been
reading his novels in her final pangs of pregnancy with me. And so
I've just always been Scott or A. Scott. And when I went off to
Princeton, which I did partly because F. Scott Fitzgerald went there,
it seemed logical to become A. Scott.
LAMB: When was this picture taken on the cover?
Mr. BERG: That picture of Lindbergh was taken just days before he
made the flight to Paris, which is May, 1927. That picture is
probably May 13th or 14th, 1927. And I--I found that picture among
all the Lindbergh archives that I was given access to. There were
hundreds and hundreds of pictures. And that one, literally--we were
rather desperate for a jacket. We couldn't find a wonderful
unpublished picture and there, literally, the last hour--I--I mean,
they said, `We have to go to press with something'--I found that in a
box. And there it was.
LAMB: Where--where did you find it?
Mr. BERG: A--again, that was at Yale among the Lindbergh archives.
LAMB: There's another little note i--in the back. Y--you talk about
a guy named Tony Bill and you say he's an actor, director, pilot,
producer, restauranteur, a writer, but then you say, `He had the most
remarkable private collection of books I have ever seen.' Where is he,
and who is Tony Bill?
Mr. BERG: Tony Bill's a great friend of mine, I'm happy to say. And
he was a friend of mine before this book, and he'll be a friend of
mine long after this book. Tony Bill's--had many careers in
Hollywood, became an actor as a young man, has directed several really
nice pictures, also won an Academy Award for--as a producer. And he
is a closet book collector. And when I had just started on this book,
he called me up one day--and I'd known him for years, but he called up
and he said, `Listen, I've got to discuss something very personal.
Could you come over right away?' And I said, `Well, what? I--I--tell
me on the phone.' He said, `No, no. You've got to come to my house.'
And I--I went right over, and he took me through th--the place he was
living and he said, `You know, I do have these books.' And I--I had
thought I'd known him rather well, but suddenly I walked into this
room with thousands of books, just thousands of wonderful first
editions of all sorts. But, primarily, he has a great aviation
collection. He is a pilot himself and has been collecting wonderful
books on aviation and Lindbergh a specialty. As is the case with
most--most people in aviation, Lindbergh is a great, great hero. He's
a great central figure in their lives.
LAMB: When you went to plug in to everything Charles Lindbergh, how
much had already been written about him?
Mr. BERG: Well, a lot has been written about Lindbergh, ever since
1927, after he completed the flight. The problem is most of what has
been written about him is wrong or--or misleading. The fact is most
everything that's been written about Lindbergh is based on old press
clippings or just legends, just stories that people have told. And
that's because all these papers--these thousands of boxes, literally,
have been locked up. So the story really couldn't be told
until--until this book came along.
LAMB: What are some of the myths?
Mr. BERG: Well, I think one is--well, the--I think the--the biggest
area of misunderstanding and myth gets into the whole America First
period and the an--anti-Semitism. Was Lindbergh really the devil?
Was he a traitor, as Franklin Roosevelt suggested? Was he a friend of
Hitler, as I had grown up hearing? I'm Jewish. I had--you know, I
had had th--I think most Jews in America grow up wi--knowing there are
two evil people in the century, Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford.
Those are the two famous anti-Semites one--one grows up hearing about.
So I think that is something that has been somewhat mythologized.
And, certainly, the flight itself has been much legendized as well.
LAMB: This is a picture of Charles Lindbergh and his wife. What year
was it taken?
Mr. BERG: That's taken right after they got married, actually, in
1929. That's the closest there is to a wedding picture of Charles and
Anne Morrow Lindbergh. It was an extremely private wedding. They did
everything they could to run away from the press, and literally
they--they pulled off a secret wedding. Even the people who were
invited to the wedding didn't know they were showing up for a wedding
that day. Twenty-five of, basically, Anne Morrow's closest
friends--family friends and Charles Lindbergh and his mother showed up
for what they thought was a--a lunch, and it turned out--suddenly the
minister walked in and performed a marriage ceremony.
LAMB: Where is Anne Morrow Lindbergh today?
Mr. BERG: Today she's in Connecticut where she lives happily. She
is 92 years old. The last few years she's been in failing health
physically and mentally, but she's still in--she's still in remarkable
shape for a nonagenarian. And there are moments of--of incredible
lucidity and vitality. I was fortunate enough to meet her about 10
years ago and to have five very, very good years knowing her and being
able to talk to her.
LAMB: How much time have you spent around her?
Mr. BERG: I'd say--well, boy, I mean, when I first met her, i--it
was a week, in fact, when I met her and one of her children--her
LAMB: This is from the nine--nine--1930, I think it is?
Mr. BERG: Yes. That's from the 1930s. That's when she first began
to publish books herself. She had been a writer in college, at Smith
College, and--and actually--and this was, too, another one of the
great meth--myths and ironies in--in the Lindbergh story, th--is this
marriage which had often been held up as a great story book romance.
And, in fact, it began that way, but it was full of twists and turns.
It became rather cold and dark in places.
And what was interesting is that Charles Lindbergh was an extremely
domineering, dominating husband, but ironically it was he who brought
the writer out in her and really, I think, almost forced her to
publish, forced her to become Anne Morrow Lindbergh, almost turned her
into a feminist. And I--I don't know of another instance like that
of--of a dominating husband. It wasn't, `Get back to the kitchen and
have my martini ready when I walk in, dear.' It's--it's, `Where's that
book? Get back to it. What do you mean you have writer's block? Get
back there.' And--and she--you know, she's obviously a wonderful
writer, always had the talent. But I'm not sure she always had the
temperament to put the material out there. And I think he got that
out of her.
LAMB: How many weeks have you been on the tour?
Mr. BERG: I've been--I've been on the road talking about Lindbergh,
really, since--it's almost--it's two months now, exactly.
LAMB: So what would you conclude, so far, based on the audiences
you've been with?
Mr. BERG: Well, I conclude some things--several. One is book tour
is a little like running for office without the sex. That's one thing
I conclude about this time. The other is Lindbergh--Lindbergh is
really part of the--I've--really find this everywhere--is f--part of
the national fabric. This guy--we are almost born, as Americans,
genetically coded to know something about Lindbergh. Even young
people who don't remember him or know much about him do somehow know
the name. They know he flew to Paris. They know a baby was
kidnapped. So it's remarkable for me to find that. The other thing I
have found always, when I walk into a room, is--is the polarity that
exists about Lindbergh. There are people who still absolutely worship
this man, or there are people who utterly demonize them. They think,
you know, he is one of the horrors of the 20th century. And what I
have found, of course, is that he was neither a god nor the devil. He
was a mord--a flawed mortal human being.
LAMB: When did he die?
Mr. BERG: He died in 1974 of cancer. He had had cancer a little
earlier. They thought he had licked it. And then he was suddenly
given a, basically, two week death sentence from--from a doctor while
he was in New York City.
LAMB: You have a picture--the last picture you have in the book and,
by the way, you have 20 pages of pictures of Charles L...
Mr. BERG: Yes. We got a lot--yeah.
LAMB: Where is this?
Mr. BERG: That picture is taken in Tonga, actually. Lindbergh spent
the last several years of his life in the South Pacific a lot,
traveling around the world all the time, all his life, but he really
did fall in love with the South Pacific later in life and, in fact, is
buried in Hawaii.
LAMB: How old was he when he died?
Mr. BERG: He was 72.
LAMB: And go back--the--the last--Aloha chapter, the last...
Mr. BERG: Yes.
LAMB: ...part of his life, tell that story if you wouldn't mind.
Mr. BERG: Well, it's utterly remarkable. I've--I've--as we've never
seen a death like Charles--or a life like Charles Lindbergh's, I have
never seen a death like his either. And when he was given this
two-week death sentence from a doctor in the New York hospital,
Lindbergh said, `Well, I want to go home. I don't want to die here in
the hospital.' And they said, `No, no. There's no way you can go
home. No way you can go home.' And they finally agreed, all right, he<
could go home thinking he was going to his house in Connecticut. But,
in fact, Lindbergh meant he wanted to go home to Hawaii, where he also
had a house. And the doctors just refused. They said, `There's no
way we can--we can let you go there.' And they said, furthermore, `No
airline will even fly you. I mean, you're in such terrible shape.'
And Lindbergh's attitude was, `There's no way an airline is going to
fly Charles Lindbergh? Let me make a phone call or two.'
And, indeed, he did manage to get to Hawaii. And he spent the last 10
days of his life--it is--it is utterly remarkable. He planned his
dying and his death with the same precision he planned his trip to
Paris. I mean, it was just another flight for Lindbergh, complete
with checklists and complete with having his three sons out there
digging a grave, which was in a place he had selected, all according
to his design, even planned the--the drainage in the grave and what
stones were to be used to line it. And, literally, the minute that
grave was finished--I mean, that night, Lindbergh dies. And then
there's a whole plan on what the family is supposed to do for the next
few hours, how do get this corpse into the ground. And indeed they do
it with absolute precision. And, at first, it made Anne Morrow
Lindbergh a little crazy. I mean, she wanted to have a few hours--or
a few moments, even, just to be alone and mourn, but, no, she had to
follow the checklist.
And, indeed, she did, and it wasn't until just after Lindbergh was in
the ground she realized why. Because as they were driving off from
their service, this small service they had in a tiny church outside of
Hana, the first news trucks were driving in. And Lindbergh knew, as
he had been chased all his life by the press, he would be chased the
moment he died and that his family would have about a two-hour window.
And I think this was Lindbergh's just final embrace of his family,
saying, `You're going to have to do this quickly so you can have a
private moment.' And, indeed, that's just the way it happened.
LAMB: Can you remember the first moment you said, `I want to do
something on Charles Lindbergh'?
Mr. BERG: Yeah. There were two first moments. The first first
moment was when I thought of doing Charles Lindbergh about four years
before I actually did it. And I was told that Charles Lindbergh's
papers were locked up and couldn't be seen for, I was told, 50 years
after his wife's death, that the family would never talk, that Anne
Morrow Lindbergh was a famous recluse and the family wouldn't talk.
And so--so, indeed, I had scratched Lindbergh off my list.
And then I was approached a few years later by Phyllis Grann, who was
then running Putnam's, now she runs Putnam's and much more, and she
said she always wanted to read a biography of Lindbergh. Would I be
willing to write it? And I said, `I'd love to write it, but it can't
be done. The papers are locked up. Mrs. Lindbergh is locked up.
The children are locked up.' And--and Phyllis Grann said, `Well, I
think you should pursue it anyway, or even if you don't pursue it,
just write the book.' And that was enough encouragement for me to try
to break through to Mrs. Lindbergh, and that's when Katharine
Hepburn, ultimately, fell in and wrote the letter that helped me get
through, I think.
LAMB: You dedicate the book to Phyllis Grann and Kevin McCormick.
Who is he?
Mr. BERG: He is a great friend. He's the man I live with, in fact,
in Los Angeles.
LAMB: And you live in Los Angeles?
Mr. BERG: I do.
LAMB: How long have you been out there?
Mr. BERG: My life almost--I mean, 40 years I've been there. We
moved out when I was eight years old.
LAMB: And when did you become a writer?
Mr. BERG: I think I'm still becoming. My--on my--I became a
writer--I guess I'd have to say I became a writer the day after I
graduated from college. I had done my senior thesis on Maxwell
Perkins, and that grew into my first book and that led to my second
book, a biography of Goldwyn, and that led, in turn, to this. But I
think--I--I was never one of those kids who wrote poems or kept
diaries or wrote for the school paper. I just started writing my
senior thesis on Perkins. And so I think as soon as I graduated, that
was the beginning of my writing career, I'd say.
LAMB: Where were you born?
Mr. BERG: I was born in Connecticut--in Westport, Connecticut,
LAMB: Family was made up of what?
Mr. BERG: Family was made up of mother and father, a father who was
in the paint business with his father. He had a paint store and--and
artist's supplies. And this--by the mid-'50s my father began writing
scripts. He was a Sunday writer and was writing for the old live
television programs, and began selling a lot of them, enough of them
that some studios began to bring him out to Hollywood. And in 1958,
when he then had a wife and three children, we all moved out to
California, and he started all over as a writer and producer out
there, which he still does today. And I s--now have a fourth broth--a
third brother, as well, so we are four boys.
LAMB: And how long have you been a writer, how many years?
Mr. BERG: Well, I guess I s--officially started working on my first
book the day after college graduation, which was 1971. So it's--all
my adult life all I've done is write three biographies, basically.
That's been my--my career.
LAMB: OK. Th--the question is, can you make a living out of three
Mr. BERG: Yes, you can. I'm...
LAMB: Is that all you've done? I don't mean that `all,' but, I mean,
Mr. BERG: That is--no. That is...
LAMB: ...that's your life.
Mr. BERG: That has basically been my career, my life and livelihood.
I--I had one big break, which is right after I graduated from college.
My parents allowed me to move home, during which time I wrote the Max
Perkins book. So I basically had six or seven years rent-free and
that was a great leg up. So by the time the Perkins book was
published and it became, both to my and my publisher's surprise, a
best-seller, all that money that came in basically was--was money I
could then invest in my second book. And then I got an advance on the
Goldwyn book. And by the time this book came around, I got a very
nice advance from Phyllis Grann.
LAMB: So the first two books, how many did each one of those sell?
Mr. BERG: God, I'm not sure. I think--I think they've grown--my
sales have grown exponentially, I think. In my mind, the Perkins in
hardback was somewhere around 15,000 to 20,000 and the Goldwyn was
somewhere around 50,000.
LAMB: And how's that...
Mr. BERG: Maybe a little less, you know, 5,000 here and there.
LAMB: In the early days of the Lindbergh book, how y--how you doing?
Mr. BERG: Well, we seem to be doing pretty well. I know they've got
a lot of them out there. Of course, the book business, it's--th--the
phrase is, `Gone today, here tomorrow.' You ship them out and you see
what comes back. They've shipped a lot. Now we'll see what happens
and how many get sent back.
LAMB: I listened to the audio on this book.
Mr. BERG: Huh, I--I haven't heard it yet.
LAMB: That's how I de--how big a deal is that for an author?
Mr. BERG: Well, I think it can be a big deal, especially if a movie
star comes along and decides to do it. I think Brad Pitt, for
example, read a book that he really liked a lot--I forget which it
was--and he did an audio of it. And I'm not sure the author's picture
is on the case, but I'm sure Brad Pitt's is and I think that would
sell a lot. So there's--I mean, it's--it's nice extra money. In a
way, it's found cash, at least that's the way I would view the audio
of a book.
LAMB: So you got the audio, a hardback, the paperback. And going
back to your livelihood, is there another offshoot of this? Are there
movies involved in all this business?
Mr. BERG: Well, that's--that's the great hope and the biggest
offshoot, if you're lucky. And--and on the Lindbergh book, I've--I'm
really lucky because Steven Spielberg, no less, has bought the movie
rights. And often authors do very well just optioning their book,
having somebody from Hollywood take it off the market for a year or
two. But in this case he just--he and DreamWorks, his company, just
bought the rights outright, which was unusual in another way in that
they bought it before they had read it. So that was really nice and
that, too, allows me the luxury of picking, choosing, writing how I
want, but I've always--I've always been very deliberate about my books
here. Each of them has taken almost a decade.
LAMB: So when did you start on this book?
Mr. BERG: I started that book--officially I started in the spring of
1990. That's when Mrs. Lindbergh signed off, but I had done a good
six months of research before that just in libraries, secondhand
research, second sources--secondary sources. So I'd say it's been
nine and a half years now that I've been living with him.
LAMB: One of the things that you have in the book, I assume
that--th--maybe it hasn't been anywhere else, is the whole thing about
the--the photographers breaking into the morgue and opening the casket
of the baby Lindbergh...
Mr. BERG: Yes.
LAMB: ...after the baby was found and here's a picture of the baby.
Mr. BERG: Yes, this was a beautiful baby. This was the most famous
baby in the world. This was baby Lindy, the young eaglet.
LAMB: What year was all this?
Mr. BERG: Well, the baby was born in 1930. He was kidnapped March
1st of 1932, and he was found about 10 weeks later half buried in a
ditch about--about 75 feet off a back road in New Jersey, just a few
miles from the Lindbergh house. And indeed this, I think, was--was
journalism, mass hysteria, at its all-time low.
LAMB: But you didn't publish the picture?
Mr. BERG: No, I didn't publish the picture. I had, you know, access
to the picture, but I thought, `Boy, what's the point of, you know, a
picture of a dead baby?' I mean, that's just...
LAMB: How widely was it published back then?
Mr. BERG: It wasn't widely published, but it was out there. It was
a picture one could buy on the street, in fact. What is most
interesting about the picture, I think, is that, for Lindbergh, I
think that was the lowest moment in his life. I think that was the
ugliest moment of his life that he carried with him all his life.
Whenever anybody talked about the press, he would say, `Don't talk to
me about the press. They took a picture of my dead baby.'
LAMB: Who is this man?
Mr. BERG: That man is Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who is the man
apprehended, tried and executed for kidnapping and killing the
Lindbergh baby. And he went to the electric chair in New Jersey
proclaiming his innocence.
LAMB: They ever--I mean, he ne--he never admitted it?
Mr. BERG: Never did, and--and, in fact, he--he left a magazine
article behind to be published after his execution, suggesting they've
killed the wrong man. And, indeed, this has kept speculation going.
It's kept the debate going for 60 years now.
LAMB: Why did he kill this baby?
Mr. BERG: I think the killing was accidental. I think the
kidnapping was premeditated. Kidnapping--kidnapping had sort of
become the crime du jour back in the '30s. It was the Depression.
Kidnapping seemed like a neat, easy, clean crime, very easy to come
along. You know, parents let their children play on the street, play
in sandboxes, play in the park. Very easy to come along and just
snatch a child. And that was that, write a ransom note, there'll be a
quick exchange of cash, in most cases, and that's that.
LAMB: How was this baby stolen?
Mr. BERG: This baby was stolen by, I believe, a man who climbed up a
ladder that was leaned against a house outside of Hopewell, New
Jersey, kind of a dream house that Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh
had just built for themselves. And I think the kidnapper climbed up
that ladder, snatched the baby out of his crib, and while coming down
the ladder--it was a rather crude homemade ladder. While coming down
the ladder, I think, put a lot of force on that first rung, the ladder
split. I think the baby, which was in a burlap sack, was either swung
against the stone wall of the house or dropped two stories below to
the hard ground and was killed instantaneously.
LAMB: Did you talk to Anne Morrow Lindbergh about this?
Mr. BERG: Yes, we did. It did come up. She raised the subject at
LAMB: How--how does she talk about it today?
Mr. BERG: Well--or at least some eight years ago. You never--you
never lose this. This is the great tragedy of her life, obviously.
She was--she was still in her 20s--m--mid-20s when this occurred. It
was her first baby. You know, I don't think one ever gets over that.
I think--actually, I found with her, as I found with actually the baby
nurse, whom I found living in Scotland, who was the first one to
discover that the baby was missing...
LAMB: This is a picture of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
Mr. BERG: That's a picture of Anne Morrow Lindbergh arriving at the
courthouse to testify in the Hauptmann trial.
LAMB: And that picture up above--I want to show this while we're here
Mr. BERG: Yes.
LAMB: Who's the man with the bow tie?
Mr. BERG: Yes, the picture up above--walking with Lindbergh is the
superintendent of the New Jersey state police, a man named Colonel
LAMB: Is he still alive?
Mr. BERG: The colonel is--is dead, but his son, the general, lives
on, needless to say.
LAMB: Did you...
Mr. BERG: I even went to talk to the general just to--General
Schwarzkopf was not around during the--during the crime, but I wanted
to see what it was like to grow up in the Schwarzkopf household.
What--did that Lindbergh crime loom? Did it linger in the house?
And, indeed, it did.
LAMB: In what way?
Mr. BERG: Well, this was--this was a--certainly the great event in
Col--Colonel Schwarzkopf's life. This--this was the crime of the
century, make no mistake about it. And this is the man who ultimately
brought a man quote, "to justice." A lot of people think they brought
the wrong man. I don't think that. But Colonel Schwarzkopf was
convinced this was the right man.
LAMB: And you talked about going overseas to talk to the baby sitter.
Mr. BERG: I did. Yes, I talked to the nurse, who was a Scotswoman
who had barely been in this country when the Lindbergh baby was
kidnapped. And, indeed, then she fled the country. I mean, her life
was, in many ways, ruined, certainly changed. And she never fully
recovered. And the attitude that I got from her w--I kept getting,
`if onlys'--if only--you know, `If only we didn't do this that night.
If--if only we didn't turn on the light. If only we didn't stay in
the house that night and stayed instead with Mrs. Lindbergh's mother,
where we had been staying.' You know, to think, 60 years later to be
carrying that around is such a heavy burden.
LAMB: Your account of that--is there l--new stuff in that account?
Mr. BERG: I think what I have that is new is I try to give you the
kidnapping through the inside, try to give you what the Lindberghs
were going through. Here is, basically, a young married
couple--they've only been married three years at that point--and what
it was like for them, what they endured. The actual facts of what
happened that night have been recorded in other books about the
kidnapping. I mean, there's a shelf full of books just on the
Lindbergh kidnapping. So I think what I have brought is the human
side of that story. What was it like for a 26-year-old mother, a
30-year-old father to lose their firstborn, and--and how does it
affect their marriage? What goes on between them? So that's--that's
what I think is new in that particular chapter.
LAMB: How many children did Anne Morrow Lindbergh have altogether?
Mr. BERG: There were five children after the kidnapping, so she
had--she had six--six children.
LAMB: Where are the five today?
Mr. BERG: They are scattered. There are three sons, and there were
two daughters. One daughter, also named Anne, died a few years ago of
cancer, a rather gifted children's book writer. Another daughter,
Reeve, is also a children's book writer, but has written a novel
based, in large measure, on her parents called "The Names of the
Mountains." And she has out right now a--a rather wonderful memoir
called "Under A Wing," which I think is a great, great title, a phrase
that her father used in one of his books as well.
LAMB: Did you talk to the children?
Mr. BERG: I did. I talked to them at great length. I talked to the
three sons as well, who are scattered about; one living in Brazil, one
now in West Virginia and one...
LAMB: Who's the one on top?
Mr. BERG: ...in Montana.
LAMB: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt you.
Mr. BERG: The one on top is the eldest son. That is the firstborn
after the kidnapped child. That's Jon Lindbergh, who has spent his
life mostly in or under water.
LAMB: Who's the middle?
Mr. BERG: The middle is Land Lindbergh, who is a rancher. And the
bottom photo is the youngest Lindbergh son, who is Scott, who is an
animal behaviorist. And he lives now in Brazil. All--they're all
great combinations of each of their parents. It's a very strong gene
pool, and--and I saw all aspects of both parents feeding into all five
LAMB: Some quick things. Charles Lindbergh was born where?
Mr. BERG: He was born in Detroit, Michigan, primarily because his
mother's family were doctors in Detroit, but, in fact, they moved as
soon as he was born to the main residence, where the Lindberghs had
been living--Lindbergh parents, and that was in Little Falls,
LAMB: What did his father do?
Mr. BERG: His father is a fascinating creature. His father began as
a country lawyer, and there was something almost Lincolnesque about
him in--in Minnesota. He entered politics and, in fact, became a
five-term congressman, serving here between 1907 and 1917. Very
controversial, former laborer, very progressive, outspoken, one of the
leading congressmen to go after the money trust in this--in this
That's Lindbergh's mother, Evangeline Lodge Land Lindbergh, who was a
very independent soul, an early feminist in her way, actually, became
a schoolteacher, went to college, which very few women did at the turn
of the century, of course. She even went on to get an advanced degree
and taught chemistry in Detroit most of her life, actually.
LAMB: Where did Charles Lindbergh go to college?
Mr. BERG: Charles Lindbergh went to the University of Wisconsin at
Madison in body, not much in mind, though. And, in fact, he was
kicked out of school his sophomore year; terrible student, totally
LAMB: Where is this picture from?
Mr. BERG: And that picture is taken just as he is getting kicked out
of college. He--he--he loved his Excelsior motorcycle, and, in fact,
he rode that motorcycle from Minnesota to Madison, Wisconsin, when he
started school. And when he got flunked out, he rode that to
Nebraska, where he learned how to fly.
LAMB: In what year did he make the flight on the Spirit of St.
Mr. BERG: The great flight was 1927, that spring, May 20th to 21st,
33 1/2 hours in the air.
LAMB: And what was the big deal?
Mr. BERG: And it is a big deal, make no mistake about it. This is
really one of the--one of the great milestones of the century, and
with good reason. First of all, it was a great feat in
transportation. It's a genuine act of heroism. This 25-year-old boy
went up in a flying crate. Most people, especially if you haven't
been to the Air and Space Museum to see it, don't realize this is a
canvas plane. I was up there just yesterday looking at it again.
It's really put together with spit and glue and piano wire and canvas.
And somehow this flying gas tank, with--with one engine, was gonna
carry him across the ocean. And it not only knitted the two
continents together--that is Europe and North America--but it
really--it really brought the whole world together geographically and
in spirit because everybody shared in this feat.
LAMB: Where is this crowd at the bottom here?
Mr. BERG: The crowd in the bottom is in St. Louis. That's Charles
Lindbergh coming back to St. Louis. That is my favorite picture in
the book. That picture, I think, shows the impact that Lindbergh's
flight had on the world. You cannot squeeze another human body into
that picture. That was Art Hill in Forest Park, St. Louis.
LAMB: What about on top?
Mr. BERG: And on top, that is the parade in New York City when
Lindbergh came home. You think you've seen parades in New York City,
but when Lindbergh came home, four million people turned out that day.
LAMB: Where's he standing here on the balcony?
Mr. BERG: The balcony--that is the American ambassador's residence
in Paris. That is the morning after--let me look up close. Yeah,
that's--that's the day after Lindbergh arrived in Paris.
LAMB: And why th--was the plane called the Spirit of St. Louis, and
what was the--the track that he took to get to Paris? And did he stop
Mr. BERG: No, this--no, no stops. No stops. And that was--that was
part of the feat. There had been a $25,000 prize sitting on a table
to be awarded to the first person or persons who could fly non-stop
between Paris and New York in either direction. And, indeed, several
people had tried and killed themselves in the attempt. Several people
had already flown the Atlantic, but they had gone from Canada to
Ireland. Nobody had done the great leap. Nobody had picked up the
prize. So Lindbergh needed money to pay for a plane, and he raised
the $10,580 he needed from a half-dozen businessmen in St. Louis,
hence the name Spirit of St. Louis. And that gave him the plane.
That allowed him to make the flight.
LAMB: Who built it?
Mr. BERG: It was built in San Diego by Ryan aircraft, small aircraft
company. There were bigger airplane manufacturers at the time, but
they wouldn't sell the plane to Lindbergh because Lindbergh wanted to
fly it. And they figured this was a suicide mission. `We can't risk
our company name on--on a 25-year-old flyer who looks 19. All he'd
ever really done was fly the air mail between St. Louis and Chicago.
Couldn't really chance that.' So he had to go looking around for a
small company that would make a plane affordable and available.
LAMB: How could you have enough gas on a little--What?--single-engine
plane like that?
Mr. BERG: Single-engine plane. Well, by designing a plane that is
literally nothing more than a gas tank. I mean, there is not a wasted
ounce on that plane. It is simply gasoline. That's all there was.
And--and Lindbergh himself sat in a wicker patio chair because that
would--was the lightest chair they could put in the plane and
comfortable enough to--to accommodate him for 33 1/2 hours. He
literally was--was trimming the borders off the maps he took just to
save a half-ounce here, a half-ounce there. Took no food, other than
five sandwiches and a canteen of water.
LAMB: He said he didn't eat those sandwiches, though.
Mr. BERG: He ate one, actually, when he got to the French border.
As soon as he crossed the channel, he had his first sandwich, yeah.
LAMB: And it took 33 hours.
Mr. BERG: Yup, and change.
LAMB: Did he have any communications with anybody?
Mr. BERG: Nope, that was it. And that's the other reason, you see,
I think this feat is so remarkable and why it still lives with us
because I honestly believe that, even more than the astronauts,
Lindbergh was the first human being to leave the planet. Other people
had gone flying, but they were either over land, or when they were
over water, they were in some communication with somebody or they were
flying with somebody. Lindbergh was solo. He was completely alone in
LAMB: What was his altitude?
Mr. BERG: His altitude varied. Sometimes he'd go as high as 10,000,
11,000 feet to get over clouds that he had to surmount. Sometimes he
would go as low as 10 feet above the water. The biggest enemy, the
biggest obstacle in the flight to Paris was sleep. He fought sleep
for 33 hours. And he used to fly so low that the spray of the
Atlantic would come into the plane to wake him up.
LAMB: What time did he leave the United States, and what time did he
arrive in Paris?
Mr. BERG: He left in the early morning, Long Island time,
LAMB: From Long Island.
Mr. BERG: From Long Island--Roosevelt Field, Long Island. And you
can visit a shopping mall today, and that's where he took off from.
And he landed at Le Bourget at 10:30 the following night, 10:30 Paris
LAMB: Do I remember that the Spirit of St. Louis airplane was in
Lindbergh Field at St. Louis for a long time, hanging up from the
Mr. BERG: There was a sister ship, actually, hanging there. Almost
from the moment the plane came home--actually, even before the plane
came home, a wonderful man at the Smithsonian named Paul Garber, who
had a lifelong fascination with aviation, began trying to get hold of
that airplane. He knew the significance of that plane. And the
Smithsonian got hold of it about five months after Lindbergh made his
flight. Lindbergh came home, did a--did a kind of goodwill tour of
the 48 states, went to Central America, Mexico, flew around the Gulf
and Caribbean, and then he ultimately gave the--the plane to the
LAMB: And, again, he was how old when he...
Mr. BERG: ...where it is to this day.
LAMB: ...made the flight?
Mr. BERG: Twenty-five years old.
LAMB: He was how old when he got married?
Mr. BERG: Let's see, he--he got married in '29; he was 27 when he
LAMB: And he was how old when the baby was stolen?
Mr. BERG: The baby was stolen, he was 30--30 years old. So all this
was happening to a young man.
LAMB: And he's how old in this picture right here?
Mr. BERG: That picture is 1917. He is about 35 in that picture
LAMB: Who's--who's got the swastika on their sleeve?
Mr. BERG: I don't know who that man with the swastika is. That's
just some old Nazi who's shaking hands with Charles Lindbergh.
LAMB: Who's below it?
Mr. BERG: Below, we've got Lindbergh with Hermann Goering.
LAMB: Which one is Goering?
Mr. BERG: Goering is the pudgy fellow on the far right. Lindbergh
made six visits to Nazi Germany between 1936 and '38. Lindbergh on
the left, then Anne Morrow Lindbergh.
LAMB: And there's a portrait there of Adolf Hitler.
Mr. BERG: The big guy. That's Adolf Hitler right there in the
picture, I know. I...
Mr. BERG: That's one of the most chilling pictures I've seen. `What
the hell is Charles Lindbergh doing there?' you wonder.
LAMB: How many of these pictures in the book have not been published
Mr. BERG: I've got about 90 pictures; I think 40--43 are--are
LAMB: Do you remember wh--some of those that were--never been
published? Was that one, of Goering?
Mr. BERG: The one of Goering has been published. The one above I
don't think had, the one with the swastika.
LAMB: Where'd you get them?
Mr. BERG: Various sources. Some were among the Lindbergh archives
and just had not been published. As I said, the--the--the picture on
the jacket had never been published, to my amazement, because that's
the most stunning picture I've seen of Lindbergh. That's--that, to
me, just tells the story. That's, you know, the boy--I mean, he's got
his eyes on Paris, I think.
LAMB: Why did he go to Germany in the first place?
Mr. BERG: He went to Germany at the invitation of the American
Embassy in Berlin in 1936. The air attache to Berlin, a man named
Truman Smith, was deeply concerned about the buildup of the German
military, and he felt, as many did, that Germany was building up this
huge air force, this Luftwaffe. But nobody knew how big or how
powerful it was. And Truman Smith had a great idea. He thought, `You
know, I'll bet if we could bring Charles Lindbergh over here, the
Germans would be so proud of what they had, they'd show off all their
stuff.' And, indeed, they did. So Lindbergh came over and paid six
visits and got to visit just about every place he wanted to see.
LAMB: What years?
Mr. BERG: '36, '37 and '38.
LAMB: Who hung the Hitler medal around his neck?
Mr. BERG: A medal was hung around his neck in October of '38 by
Hermann Goering, although I should just slightly rephrase that. The
medal was never hung around the neck; metaphorically it was. This was
at a party at the German Embassy. It--it was a stag night. Party was
given by the American ambassador. And Lindbergh arrived, and the last
guest to arrive was Goering. And he walked in and just walked right
up to Lindbergh, talking in German. Somebody's translating along the
way. And the m--and a man opens up a box, and it is the Service Cross
of the German Eagle. It was presented on behalf of Hitler himself.
Lindbergh accepted it, and later went home that night--they were
staying in Berlin. He showed it to his wife, and she took one look at
it and she said, `The albatross.' So they knew--or she knew there was
something--something that was gonna plague her husband for the rest of
his life about that medal.
LAMB: How did it become...
Mr. BERG: And, indeed, it did.
LAMB: How did it become a plague for him?
Mr. BERG: Well, in his mind, he kept insisting it didn't become a
plague. He said he never really thought twice about it. But the
truth of the matter is Lindbergh came back to America shortly
thereafter, in early '39, to start speaking out against American
intervention into a war he felt was about to break out, what became
the America First movement.
LAMB: Where is this picture?
Mr. BERG: That particular picture is taken in Ft. Wayne, Indiana,
which was one of about 15 speeches Lindbergh gave on behalf of America
First, much misunderstood movement.
LAMB: Sergeant Shriver, Potter Stewart, Gerry Ford, Burton
Wheeler--who are all these people?
Mr. BERG: Yeah.
LAMB: And why are they associated with America First?
Mr. BERG: To say nothing of Norman Thomas, too.
LAMB: And there's a photograph of Norman Thomas right up here. And
he's--where--is he far right?
Mr. BERG: Norman Thomas is on the far right looking at it, yeah.
LAMB: And who is Norman Thomas?
Mr. BERG: Norman Thom--Thomas was the leading Socialist in this
country, ran for president on the Socialist ticket, in fact, and one
of the great gentlemen, too, who--who ever entered politics.
LAMB: But how did--how did Gerry Ford and Sergeant Shriver and Potter
Stewart and there--are there others?
Mr. BERG: Yeah, there are--there are a handful of others: Kingman
Brewster, who became president of Yale University, presiding over the
university during the gre--great Vietnam debate; also, R. Douglas
Stewart Jr., Bob Stewart, a Princetonian who went to Yale Law School
and later ran Quaker Oats--he was very active in starting this as
well; Richard Moore, who later became an ambassador to Ireland; Peter
Dominick, who became senator from Colorado.
And most of these men were young men. Most of them were college
students. And, to my amazement, America First actually began--I mean,
literally, the roots of America First were on the Yale campus in New
Haven when about a half-dozen students got together, not to protest
the war, but to say what Lindbergh believed, that, `This is a European
war going on, and the best thing America can do is stay out of it.
Let them duke it out, and let us defend America first.' Lindbergh
believed the most important thing America could be doing at this time
is building up our own armed forces, especially an air force. He felt
we had a very, very incomplete air force in 1939, 1940. And, indeed,
they--the US government was only just starting to wake up, largely
because of Lindbergh's call to arms.
LAMB: You alluded to this earlier in the discussion. I'm gonna read
something, and--and tell me where this comes from: `Stewart tells me
the--that most of the Jewish passengers are sick. Imagine the United
States taking these Jews in, in addition to those we already have.
There are too many in places like New York already. A few Jews add
strength and character to a country, but too many create chaos and we
are getting too many. This present emigration will have its
Mr. BERG: Yes, indeed. That...
LAMB: Never published.
Mr. BERG: That was never published. That w--Charles Lindbergh kept
very complete diaries from the late '30s through the war, and, indeed,
a big volume, a fat, 1,000-page volume, was published called "Wartime
Journals." I went through Lindbergh's original journals, not the
published version--or I went through both--and that passage you just
read was a paragraph that he hand wrote, but chose not to publish.
And that, to me, was extremely telling. And I found, well, four or
five such passages that he chose not to publish, all of which were
about Jews, anti-Semitism or the Third Reich.
LAMB: Where does this come from: `I'm not attacking either the
Jewish or the British people,' he said. `Both races I admire.' And I
almost want to stop and ask you, Jews a race and British a race?
Mr. BERG: Well, in Lindbergh's eyes, yes. Lindbergh, again...
LAMB: Where is he saying this, by the way?
Mr. BERG: This speech is being given in Des Moines, Iowa. It was
almost his last America First speech. It was--it was delivered in
September of '41.
LAMB: Let me--let me finish, and then you can...
Mr. BERG: Yeah, do.
LAMB: ...everybody will know what we're talking about. `But I'm
saying that the leaders of both the British and Jewish races, for
reasons which are understandable from their viewpoint as they are
inadvisable from ours, for reasons which are not American, wish to
involve us in the war. We cannot blame them for looking out for what
they believe to be their own interests, but we also must look out for
ours. We cannot allow the natural passions and prejudices of other
peoples to lead our country to destruction.'
Mr. BERG: I think Charles Lindbergh just hanged himself.
Is that it, after that?
Mr. BERG: That's it. That speech--again, that was an America First
speech in September, and--and we're now three months before Pearl
Harbor. The great debate of American intervention--and it was one of
the great debates in American history--was going on. Lindbergh had
been winning that debate against Franklin Roosevelt, trying to
keep--Lindbergh was trying to keep America out of the war, but was
beginning to lose ground, lose--lose popularity. And he felt he had
to kind of drop a bomb to wake everybody up, and that was what he
dropped in September of '41: naming three groups who wanted to get
in, talking about these races, the Jewish race, the British race.
LAMB: What was the reaction--you talk about a train ride. He didn't
even know what was going on.
Mr. BERG: He--and then--and then he got on a train, so, indeed--to
go back home. He was then living in Massachusetts. And he had no
idea what the reaction was until he arrived, and there was practically
a lynching mob. I mean, even people who had supported America First
suddenly distancing themselves from Charles Lindbergh. And I think
it's not only because there's something basically, deeply anti-Semitic
about those comments, really a genuine segregation in his mind of two
different Americas. `There's my America, and there's the Jewish
America.' That's one thing that's going on.
But I think--because I think this was largely an anti-Semitic nation,
I think what really done him in there was that it was un-American. It
was--it violated the melting pot theory. You know, E pluribus unum.
LAMB: You said you are Jewish. Do you think he was an anti-Semite?
Mr. BERG: I do. I--I think he was an unconscious genteel
anti-Semite. I truly believe Lindbergh believed he was not
anti-Semitic. He believed in that speech that you quoted
that--Lindbergh thought he was expressing great tolerance toward the
Jews. But just in talking about them as a secret--separate class, he
was revealing a kind of segregation, a separate but equal.
LAMB: Where was this picture taken, up top?
Mr. BERG: The upper picture there, that's taken in Bavaria. And
that was in the--in the '50s. That's sort of midcentury, middle age.
And that's Anne Morrow and Charles Lindbergh really in the middle of
LAMB: Where did they live during the--where did he live during his
Mr. BERG: Lindbergh never really lived anywhere. They had
residences here and there, and they had many residences. But
Lindbergh--and this was interesting in putting his childhood together.
He had a very peripatetic childhood. He was a lifelong vagabond.
LAMB: What's that picture on top there that we were just seeing?
Mr. BERG: On--on top, that picture was taken in the Philippines.
Lindbergh did a lot of traveling, especially in the last 25, 30 years
of his life, largely on behalf of conservationist causes. But he fell
madly in love with the Philippines.
LAMB: What about the picture on the bottom?
Mr. BERG: And just below that is Indonesia. Again, this whole
sector of the world he was visiting partly; formally, he was traveling
all around the world on Pan American business because he sat on the
board of Pan Am. But, in fact, what he was doing was conservation
Mr. BERG: That's Vietnam, which he visited. That was a Pan Am trip
that he visited Vietnam for.
LAMB: Middle of the war?
Mr. BERG: The war was just--that was just--just kicking in.
LAMB: And then there's a picture right below that of some famous
Mr. BERG: I just love this picture.
LAMB: Wally Schirra, Bill Anders, Jim Lovell, Hubert Humphrey. It
looks like--is that Jim Webb in the back?
Mr. BERG: Yeah, exactly.
LAMB: And Lady Bird Johnson, Lyndon Johnson.
Mr. BERG: Yes.
LAMB: And then Charles Lindbergh signing what?
Mr. BERG: Signing autographs bec--because ask an astronaut who his
hero is, and I think nine out of 10 will names Charles Lindbergh.
LAMB: But had he recovered from his anti-Semitism?
Mr. BERG: He had sprung back a lot. You know, right after World War
II, I mean, literally a week after V-E Day, Lindbergh was--and now
after Franklin Roosevelt has died, Lindbergh's great enemy, the Truman
administration and subsequent presidential administrations really
embraced Lindbergh, began to bring him back. Eisenhower made him a
general, in fact. And--and Lindbergh spent much of his life traveling
around the world on US government missions. He was on the Air Force
Academy's site committee. He was on anti-ballistic missile
committees. He--he did all sorts of work for the government. And...
LAMB: But by--but World War II, though, they wouldn't let him go int
active duty. How come?
Mr. BERG: They--w--well, `they' is Franklin Roosevelt would not let
him go on active duty. There was such enmity between Lindbergh and
Roosevelt as a result of this great debate, this America First debate,
that when Pearl Harbor was bombed and Lindbergh tried to volunteer,
Roosevelt said, `There's no way Lindbergh can serve.' And...
LAMB: Where's this picture from then?
Mr. BERG: That picture was taken--well, yes. What happened is
Lindbergh somehow found a way--that picture was taken just before he
had tendered his resignation from the Army, which he had done because
Roosevelt, his commander in chief, had suggested he was a traitor.
And shortly after that picture Lindbergh tendered the resignation,
Pearl Harbor was bombed. Lindbergh tries to serve. Roosevelt refuses
to let him. So Lindbergh wanted some way to serve his country and
went to every aircraft c--manufacturer in America and said, you know,
`I'd like a job.' And they were all dying to have Lindbergh. That was
great. He was, you know, one of the great authorities, to say nothing
of the great names in American aviation.
And about two days after each meeting, Lindbergh would get a phone
call saying, `We're terribly sorry. We have to take back our offer.
We've just got a phone call from--from the big man that if we hire
you, hire Lindbergh, we don't get a government contract.' And there
was only one employer in the United States who wasn't afraid of--of
Franklin Roosevelt, and that was Henry Ford, whose attitude was,
`Franklin Roosevelt's not gonna buy my stuff? I don't think so. I
think he needs my planes and jeeps.'
LAMB: Henry Ford, as you know, is--is known as an anti-Semite.
Mr. BERG: Yeah. So--so, in a way, this just retard Lindbergh, just
made it all the worse for him, in a way. Of course, one anti-Semite
would hire another anti-Semite. So Lindbergh's reputation continued
to suffer into the '40s. And then somehow Lindbergh found a way to
serve without uniform. He became a technical representative for
United Aircraft and actually went over to the South Pacific and flew
on 50 bombing missions, again, without uniform, but somehow was
strafing Japanese targets, was actually downing a Japanese Zero
himself, faced death several times.
LAMB: We're almost out of time, and it's running very fast, the
clock. The 2,000 boxes of stuff you got?
Mr. BERG: Yeah. Altogether, I'm--the--the--the heart of the
Lindbergh archives were about 500, Anne had another 300, and then
there were papers all over Missouri, Minnesota. And then going
through Anne Lindbergh's family's papers, going through Charles'
parents' papers, grandparents' papers. Putting it all together was a
little over 2,000.
LAMB: When was this picture of Anne taken?
Mr. BERG: That picture is taken in the--that picture's in the '60s,
actually. After Anne Morrow Lindbergh--long after she's published
"Gift from the Sea," her most-famous book, a book that's been a
best-seller for 40 years...
LAMB: What's it about?
Mr. BERG: It is a wonderful, little--it's almost a little tract.
It's a little meditation. I think what it's about is laying the pipe
for the feminist movement in this country. It's a fascinating book
about the stages of womanhood, basically. And--and it's really Anne
Lindbergh's meditation philosophy on life on--on how women can be
wives, mothers, artists, have lives of their own and make time for
themselves, and it's--it still holds up.
LAMB: For you, when--when was that moment where you discovered
something you just couldn't believe you were looking at?
Mr. BERG: Well, I think the thing that really socked it home for me
was when I'd been through the last of the Lindbergh boxes up at Yale,
and the last item I saw was a--was a map of his flight to Paris. And
on it, he had detailed--this is shortly after he'd made the
flight--everything that had happened along the way: `The fog came in
here. The storm was here.' And it was after two years of research,
and some of it was real dog work, but suddenly to see this map and
have it all brought home, it was as though Lindbergh were saying,
`Don't forget why--why you are here. This is where it all began.'
LAMB: What's next for you?
Mr. BERG: Next for me is probably another biography. I'm poking
around now, looking for another subject, my fourth subject, who I hope
will be a 20th century, American cultural figure, through whose life I
can tell another...
LAMB: Are you close?
Mr. BERG: No, not close. I'm--I'm at the stage now where I'm adding
to the list. I just throw names without even thinking about them onto
the list. And the next phase will be to start whittling them down.
LAMB: Andrew Scott Berg, this is the cover of your book called
"Lindbergh." Thank you very much for joining us.
Mr. BERG: Thanks for having me here.
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