BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Harold Evans, author of "The American Century," when was the first time you thought about becoming an American citizen?
Mr. HAROLD EVANS (Author, "The American Century"): I think when I came back to the United States in 1984, I didn't have any intention of becoming an American citizen, but in--after about six or seven years, writing this book, which took 12 years, it started to dawn on me that there'd be a certain hypocrisy in, as Dylan Thomas once said, `Swilling and guzzling your way across the United States while criticizing it.' Well, this b--isn't a book of criticism, but I felt the same impulses that I should identify with--with the country, which had actually welcomed me when I'd been f--fired in England and--and got a new life here.
LAMB: What were you fired doing?
Mr. EVANS: Well, I was fired by Rupert Murdoch when I was editing The Times of London, because I wanted to maintain the political independence of the paper and not make it a lapdog of Mrs. Thatcher. And I wrote about that in a book called "Good Times, Bad Times."
So I arrived here and, after thr--several years writing the book, I realized that I did want to become an American citizen, although I loved my country, England.
LAMB: Do you have to renounce your citizenship to England?
Mr. EVANS: You don't. I think it's a kind of gray area. I carry a British passport and--and I think we should be moving to a situation like Mexico, where you can be a Mexican citizen and an American citizen, too. And then your only difficulty is when there's a--a call to arms, whether you can have a hybrid uniform or whether you should continue in a single uniform.
LAMB: One of the things in your book that popped out at me was Harry Truman's prayer. And so everybody s--knows what we're talking about, I ought to read it. And you say he learned it as a--a boy and said it throughout his life. `Oh, almighty and everlasting God, creator of heaven, Earth and the universe, help me to be, to think, to act what is right because it is right. Make me truthful, honest and honorable in all things. Make me intellectually honest for the sake of right and honor and without thought or reward to me. Give me the ability to be charitable, forgiving and patient with my fellow men. Help me to understand their motives and their shortcomings, even as thou understandeth mine. Amen, amen, amen.'
Where'd you find this?
Mr. EVANS: I've forgotten. I read more than 5,000 books and I may have found this in the Truman Library. And I think the point about why I included that was that was a pretty good reflection of the way he did live his life. I also thought that he had a secret wish that his mother-in-law would've f--make--would've--follow the same precepts, because he couldn't get on with her, as you know. She thought that his wife had married beneath himself and, even when she was sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom, she was dissatisfied.
But Truman, incidentally--I did a poll for "The American Century" of the post-war presidents--of their character and their competence. And the one who came number one for character and number one for competence was Harry Truman.
LAMB: Why do you think that happened?
Mr. EVANS: Well, I think it's--I think with the passage of time, we can see that he, in fact, was a--very straight, although I've suggested in the chapter on the atomic bomb that he was a--there, a little devious, but very straight, and I think people can see that he took over the most fantastically difficult job, following Franklin Roosevelt. And I think the American public likes the motto that was on his desk, `The buck stops here.' He was the man who took the decisions, who wanted to take the decisions, and who escaped from the shadow of Franklin Roosevelt. And his record is pretty good. I mean, Korea was a great decision, in the first place--to go into Korea. We had to do that. It was a wonderful thing. The terrible mistake was, of course, letting General MacArthur have too free a hand in going towards the Chinese border, and the b...
LAMB: You say in your book that this is the most horrifying minute in history.
Mr. EVANS: That's Hiroshima.
LAMB: This photo right here?
Mr. EVANS: Yes. And, yes, I think it is the most hor--this is a charred body. This t--young woman is dying. She die--she's dead within seconds of this photograph being taken, in fact. She was alive when the photograph was taken. But it is the most horrifying minute in history, and one of the things I discuss in "The American Century" is: Was it justified? Because when you begin the war--it's quite amazing--when you begin World War II, everybody--Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill say, `It would be unthinkable to drop bombs on civilians.' In fact, the Royal Air Force, which I was a member, was so conscious about this that when we dropped leaflets over Germany in big bundles, the pilots were told to cut the string so that the leaflets wouldn't hurt anybody, if they fell in a bundle.
And--but the British Royal Air Force was the first fighting force that began terror bombing, first of the Allies. And Germany began by bombing Coventry Cathedral, and there's a photograph in "The American Century" of the charred bodies of Coventry Cathedral, victims which I had not seen published before. In fact, it was suppressed by the British government and I got permission to run it in this book.
But after that, the British began terror bombing and the United States continued to do high-level strategic bombing, at first, in daylight, which was completely fatal to them, because they were getting shot down all over the place. But only at Dresden did the United States Air Force join the British in, basically, a campaign of--of--of terror bombing of civilians.
And then of course, by the time we reached the war in the Pacific in 1945, it's now an accepted principle that you bomb civilians, and--and--and the fire bombing of Tokyo and culminating, of course, in the dropping of the atomic bomb, which is one of the most complex, sensitive and controversial things I discuss in "The American Century."
LAMB: What--how would you define your political philosophy?
Mr. EVANS: Well, it--it--it--I mean, I--I--I support Locke and Thomas Green and Aristo--I mean, I am--in terms of modern parlance, you would describe me as a centrist. In fact, John Kenneth Galbraith's remarks on this book being politically detached--I wouldn't like to put myself in a pigeonhole of any party or political label, and never did, until recently so far as English politics goes. But I believe in the individual. That's the starting point of my philosophy, and the freedom of the individual and then, of course, the philosophical point at which the nose enters the fist, in which my freedom to do this stops with your nose, and that takes us into all the other issues.
I--in terms of modern language, I believe in an active government. I am a Teddy Rooseveltian, a Franklin Rooseveltian in that sense. I believe government can be a solution and not simply be the problem in the way that Ronald Reagan said. On the other hand, I think that in America, there's a particularly interesting tension between the freedom which gives the prosperity by and large, the entrepreneurs, the inventors, the Silicon Valley people. That freedom must be respected and could not flourish economically in a more controlled society. And how far you control that freedom for the benefit of--of those of who suffer at the--in the distribution chain, and the fact that you don't have a decent health service in the United States, the fact that, you know, there's 30 million people without health insurance. Those things make me wonder what are the limits of the--of--of the freedom for the individual and the freedom for the corporation? And what i--what is the role of government? I think that's the most complex and difficult thing.
And I think that if you look back--I mean, Herbert Hoover was much maligned over the Great Depression; in fact, did start intervening even more than the Democrats of the day did want. But it was left to Franklin Roosevelt, I think, to find a better balance there.
LAMB: What jobs have you had in the United States?
Mr. EVANS: I began as a lecturer at Duke University, a visiting professor an--on politics, but basically on...
LAMB: What year?
Mr. EVANS: ...in 1984--on the performance of the press. And I had a mix of wonderful people, law sc--law school students and public policy majors. And so it was hypothetical. I would take a case and for three hours we would do the kind of Harvard Law School method of teaching, which I found--I had to prepare a hell of a lot, because there was no getting which way the case would wander. I found that very stimulating. And it was, basically, about the First Amendment, privacy, issues of ethics, issues of competence; not vocational, more philosophical.
And then from that, I needed to be with my wife, who was here editing Vanity Fair.
LAMB: Tina Brown?
Mr. EVANS: Tina Brown. And it was technology impossible for me to conceive a child in Washington while she was in New York in those days. So this meant I had to get to New York. And I came to New York and I began--wrote the outline for this book, intending to be a full-time writer. And I'm just about to lift up my quilled pen when Mr. Newhouse asked me to--if I would start a magazine--a travel magazine. So I started Conde Nast Traveler magazine, which was huge fun. I mean, can you imagine anything like it? Every afternoon, with wonderful friends, looking at photographs of gorgeous beaches in Venice and art treasures, and saying, `Let's go there,' or `Let's tell our friends to go there, but first--check it out ourselves, first.' So that was a--I'd published that magazine under the rubric truth in travel, 'cause this was not something which was a common place in travel writing. And we paid for our own tr--that was very exhilarating.
And then, after four to five years of that, I was asked if I would take over Random House as president of Random House, villa, the modern library, Times Books. And so I entered Random House and did that for seven years. I'd forgotten--I told you--I'd forgotten that from Duke University, I actually went to work for Mort Zuckerman a--as a--who found the Atlantic Monthly Press as a commercial independent imprint and, also, to be editorial director of US News & World Report. So, in fact, I did that for 18 months before coming to New York.
And--and then Mort, who's a friend of mine, had always wanted me to come back to journalism, and so he asked me to do what I'm presently doing, which is to be the editorial director and vice chairman of The Daily News in New York, US News & World Report and the Atlantic magazine, Monthly and Fast Company.
LAMB: Where did you meet Tina Brown?
Mr. EVANS: I met Tina Brown in London. She was at Oxford University and I was the editor of The Sunday Times. And I went to a party one evening given by a very funny writer called Patrick Campbell, Lord of the navy. And a young woman there said `I'm--I'm your prize winner.' I said, `Well, congratulations.' And it was Tina Brown who'd won the prize for the best play of the year by a student of anywh--from anywhere. And her play was being put on at the Edinborough Festival. And she said, `Why don't you come?' Well, I didn't go. And I didn't do anything about it. But then, shortly afterwards, a literary agent sent me pieces that Tina Brown had written for the New Statesman, a magazine in England, and for Isis, the Oxford magazine. And I put them in the bottom of my briefcase and didn't read them.
And then one day, nothing better to do except go through the archaeology of one's briefcase, I read these pieces. I was absolutely amazed, they were so good. So I called her up and told her to come and meet the features editor of The Sunday Times, and they gave her a job. And then, as soon as we became attracted to each other, she quit the paper.
LAMB: You dedicate the book to George and Isabel.
Mr. EVANS: George and Isabel are the children of Tina and me. And George was conceived when this book was began, and he's now 12, and Isabel is eight. And I've dedicated it to them because they're Americans, they were born here. My daughter, Isabel--if she's asked, `What are you American or English?' she says, `I'm Americish.' She like--they both like some of the things of England, as we do.
LAMB: There are two photos you have back on page 660 and 661. The first one is this one. It's Ken Starr...
Mr. EVANS: Yes.
LAMB: ...with all kinds of cameras around him. And right on across the page there is this one, which is Theodore Roosevelt, and there are no cameras around him.
Mr. EVANS: No cameras and there's only one reporter, or two at the most.
LAMB: Did you do this on purpose?
Mr. EVANS: Of course. Oh, yes, I d--I certainly did. I wanted to contrast--I have another photograph in the book of President Taft sitting with all his 300 pounds of majestic body with a single reporter taking a note. I wanted to contrast the problems of a politician today who is beset by a proliferation of media. And with Teddy, who is there in the flesh talking to people, and it's more difficult for the politician ge--to get over to the mass. Nonetheless, Teddy was--of course, was a great bully pulpit speaker.
And with today, where there are so many filters between the president, or the politician, and the public, and where the media so much sets the tone--here the media is an observer in the Teddy Roosevelt. He's taking down what he says. In the Starr photograph, the--the media is the actor. It's setting the pace in a way which was not true then.
LAMB: How many photographs are in your book, "The American Century"?
Mr. EVANS: Nine hundred.
LAMB: How many did you look at?
Mr. EVANS: Oh, at least 30,000. Gail Buckland, who is an heroic woman, 'cause she stuck with me for 12 years--I said to her, `Please come and help me. In six months you should be able to find the photographs I need.' But the photographs I needed were ones which were not being published and which were--had a special significance. And so she went everywhere. And her particular gift is not simply a discrimination, which she certainly is very discriminating, but she's extraordinary in the sense that she can go through hundreds of negatives and find in the negative something of significance, not just looking at the prints. And I tried that for a time and it really drove me crazy. An--but she did that, and she was remorseless, and relentless, and a very, very good relationship she had with the photographers and the historical societies. So she would call on a widow of a photographer, get permission to look through the negatives and find a print. And she rescued a number of photographers who were kind of in decline, whose work was not being taken any notice of. And Gail Buckland's a remarkable woman.
LAMB: Who is she?
Mr. EVANS: She's an American and she was--when I first knew her, she was curator of the Royal Photographic Society in England. And I got to know her then very sort of loosely. And she now lives in the United States with her husband, who's an American scientist. And I commissioned her, when I was at Random House, to do a book called "The Making of America," which is going to be a book of photographs appearing probably in a year's time or so which, I think, will be spectacular. I owe a great deal to her.
LAMB: A couple of weeks ago, I noticed on a Saturday evening, you got--I don't know how many minutes, three, four, five minutes on the "CBS Evening News" for this book. Did it surprise you that you got that kind of attention, and, overall, how do you feel the publicity has been going on your book?
Mr. EVANS: Oh, the--I'm--I am enchanted by the reviews. The publicity is well-organized by Knopf, but it's the reviews that have enchanted me, the fact that--the fact the reviewers have seen what, I hope, was in the book and it's been tremendous. It's a pity that demand outran supply. This is one of the stories of publishing.
LAMB: When did that happen? And you're a man that ran Random House for seven years.
Mr. EVANS: It happened just before Christmas, about 10 days before Christmas. And...
LAMB: How many books were in print--I mean, how many books had you sold at that point?
Mr. EVANS: About 100,000.
LAMB: At $50 a piece?
Mr. EVANS: Yeah. And some places were discounting. And Amazon.com was discounting. But all books around that time were being discounted.
LAMB: How many p--how many different printings have you had at that point?
Mr. EVANS: Eight.
LAMB: So you had eight printings and a hu...
Mr. EVANS: I think eight--seven or eight, yeah.
LAMB: ...100,000 books, and you're out. Christmas...
Mr. EVANS: Well, no, we aren't gonna--we're gonna be back because of...
LAMB: But I mean, you were out at Christmas?
Mr. EVANS: Yes, we were out at Christmas.
LAMB: But what--what kind of language did you use to describe your feelings about this?
Mr. EVANS: Well, they did such a very good job at Knopf in the initial campaign and the choice of the cover, which was theirs, and everything that I had muted tones of regret.
LAMB: So you're in--back in print?
Mr. EVANS: Back in print.
LAMB: How long does it take, when you run out, to get books back on--in the market?
Mr. EVANS: Well, I think--with a book like this, I think, it's three or four weeks. This is a book where Knopf did a superlative job. A man called Landon Hughes went to enormous trouble to get the fantastic quality of reproduction that you see there with digital technology. But not just--it's easy to say digital technology. You've got to reconcile that with the printing method, with the quality of their paper, with the time. And he did an a--I don't think I've seen reproduction in any book, ever, of this quality.
LAMB: Now in the back, you have a picture of every president that's thrown out a baseball, and we start with this one right here, William Howard Taft. Where did you get this idea?
Mr. EVANS: Well, we g--I had the idea of--to have all the presidents play at throwing a baseball, they should all be--because when we collected the photographs, they were all so very different in their postures, their--Richard Nixon was almost ladylike in--in his posture, and--and Calvin Coolidge was very comic in the way he stood there, and so on. I--and Kevin Baker, who is my chief historical researcher, is a baseball expert and, in fact, wrote a baseball book while--while he was working with me on this book. And so the--my knowledge of baseball began when I watched the Brooklyn Dodgers play where they should play, in New York, in 1956. But Kevin, who's a great baseball--and so Kevin was chiefly responsible for choosing those photographs.
LAMB: What was the reason for it, though? What was the--you know, the...
Mr. EVANS: The reason was--well, 'cause I wanted this book to be about power, people and politics. I didn't want to be drawn into the eph--ephemera of disasters or tap dancing or sporting. I wanted this to be a book about the essential freedoms in America and how they've been achieved.
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Mr. EVANS: And yet, at the same time I thought, `You can't publish a book on the American century without recognizing what fascinates many people day to day in America in the summer, which is baseball.' And so that was a way of saying `Look, folks, we know that this isn't a book about Babe Ruth, or even McGwire, but we know that baseball's'--and it's a lot of fun, I think, to put--the bib--to have the bibliography decorated by baseball--by presidents. So--and it's--also, it's another reflection on the character of the presidents. You see quite a lot in those baseball photographs.
LAMB: `The Heroism of Bill Sipple'--where'd you get this idea, and what's it about?
Mr. EVANS: Well, when I was editor of The Sunday Times in London, and there was an attempt on Gerald Ford's life, we discovered, not with a--too great difficulty, that Bill Sipple, who had stepped forward at the crucial moment when Ford was about to be shot and then--and--and--and then d--s--deflected the shot, was gay. And this was brought out by a man who's in the book, Harvey th--Milk, who was later murdered, who was, of course, gay himself. And it seemed very odd that the--President Ford didn't write and thank him immediately, but there was a great deal of embarrassment about acknowledging that the president had been saved by a gay person, by Bill Sipple.
LAMB: This is Harvey Milk...
Mr. EVANS: No, this is--Bi--Bill Sipple's the...
LAMB: No, I mean, this--this photo right here.
Mr. EVANS: Oh, this photograph--this is Harvey Milk, who actually was himself murdered in San Francisco, as everybody knows. Inci--incidentally, one of my--the--one of the rave reviews--one critic said, `I should never have included Harvey Milk in the book.'
Mr. EVANS: The same critic said, `I should never have included Rachel Carson or Ralph Nader, because they think history should only be about people on the right, you know?
LAMB: But what was this--I mean, why--why do you think that Gerald Ford never thanked him for saving his life?
Mr. EVANS: And I think Gerald Ford's a very straightforward and good man, and he was very helpful. I interviewed him when I was doing this book. And I think embarrassment of m--of people around him and a certain embarrassment of his own, and then the realization that he--in fact, he did owe his life to this person, and he wrote a thank you letter rather belatedly.
LAMB: This photograph opens up `the Imperial Presidency' in 1972 to 1980. Where did you find this, and what's the purpose?
Mr. EVANS: Harry Benson took the photograph of this and, to me, it's the epitome of the attitude of the people around Richard Nixon. They're lawyers, and Harry--the attorney general, Mitchell, is in the middle, and they're celebrating an acquittal on a money laundering accusation. And you can see them--in a sense, it's a jolly photograph, but it's--also represents the recklessness and the self-confidence of that group of people, that they were the law, they'd got away with it. And Harry Benson tells me that when he was taking the photograph, they were all drunken and singing, you know, `Harry, lord of songs,' which was night and day, and I thought this picture was very human and very comic.
LAMB: Y--you have a number of chapters where you--there are a lot of words--and there are a lot of photographs, there are a lot of words. Did you write those words yourself?
Mr. EVANS: I wrote every word myself. And I laid out all the photographs and moved the headlines and wrote the captions.
LAMB: Where did you do it?
Mr. EVANS: I did it, generally--Mort Zuckerman provided me with his--an office and space, and so the--what would happen would be that we'd gather, we'd look at the photographs; I'd say to Gail, `I think this is the best photograph.' She'd say, `Well, you know, this other one's got a certain merit.' And Kevin might say a point. And then I would draw the photograph on the page and write the heading and write a space for the caption. And then I'd say, `This--how much does this give me for words?' And they'd say, `This gives you 400 words.' I said, `It's not enough for this complex subject, so I'll redraw it. How is this?' Doesn't work. So take that picture and, perhaps, look for another photograph. So the technique of it was the constant tension between the number of words needed to tell an event and the--and to give the photograph the essential size and primus as it needed.
When I came to write the essays--one of the reasons I wrote the essays--I wrote 15 essays, which vary in length up to 12,000 words. And it--when I wrote those, I was free of the constraint of the photographs, so I could be more analytical in that. That was the device that I invented.
I started off this book, Bryan--right from the very beginning, I was determined that this book would have self-contained episodes, but the text would not jump over to the next page. And that it would have, as one of the more perceptive reviewers said--I think it was David Reynolds in The New York Times--it would have the surprise of history itself, that, one minute, this is the sensation, and you turn the page and it's something completely different.
So I thought, particularly for people who didn't want to read 300,000 words beginning to end, which are in this book, that, in fact, they could read the essay or they could just read the--the narrative spread. So it's a--it's history for browsers, I'd say. But, of course, I'm proud of the layouts and the photographs but, actually, I take--t--took the greatest trouble over the essays.
LAMB: Would you--were you aware that a--a spread like this would have a--a--you know, an impact on the reader? If you look up on the screen, you can see there the s...
Mr. EVANS: Oh, yes. When I s--Fred Emory, my old colleague at The Times in London, told me about these photographs. And so I asked Gail to get them, and she duly got them. And they were from the FBI, but they're very hard to get. I don't think anybody else has had them. And I was aware, I just thought, `That's amazing, those are the Watergate principals, Ehrlichman, Haldeman a--and Mitchell.' And taking those FB--th--in that police stance there, it's very revealing. You suddenly realize the highest and mightiest in the land are being humbled by the processes of the law.
LAMB: Were you aware, in general, as you went through this process, the impact of the photographs on the way people would read your book? I mean...
Mr. EVANS: Absolutely. I always--I wrote a book once called "Pictures on a Page," and I got a medal from--for photojournalism from the Royal Photographic Society. And so I've always been excited by photography.
And I have a theory. We're on television, moving images. My theory is that people remember still images more easily recalled to mind than moving images. If I said to you now, `Put in the front of your brain here a picture of a man being shot being shot in a street in Saigon with a--by a'--you can see it, can't you?
LAMB: General Loen.
Mr. EVANS: You can see it, General Loen. You can see it. Now the same thing was done on television, but it's actually hard--you try and recall that moving image on television. It's impossible. The way the mind works is that we can recall a frozen moment in time very easily, and when we can recall a frozen moment in time, I know that that's having an impact on the way people look at photographs.
LAMB: Is this the way you feel about the Jimmy Carter presidency?
Mr. EVANS: The way I feel--yeah, well, b--that seemed to me to epitomize Jimmy Carter as a--a man of tremendous integrity and moral worth and the best ex-president we'll ever have. But I thought this represented Jimmy at his--at his worse moment, in fact. He tried--he'd gone beyond--I think there's a metaphor for the collapse of the Carter presidency, which was p--can be precisely dated from that so-called `malaise speech.' He didn't actually make the mal--the word `malaise' in it, but...
LAMB: So what do you think of the "Battle of the Century" books? Peter Jennings runs about two in the best-seller list. You're somewhere there in the middle.
Mr. EVANS: Sixth, yeah. Well, it's interesting, and they're different books, you know? Peter's book, I think, has the virtue of color, and I have faded black and white. That's the attraction of color. And I'm more analytical and I go back before the 20th century. Peter begins in 1900. And s--and I'm--and Peter's mainly relied--I think the best thing in Peter's book--and Peter and the other chap who wrote it with him--two people wrote it--is the interviews that were done, and I think they're of his--historical value.
LAMB: Going back to the very beginning, here's a photograph. Where'd you find this?
Mr. EVANS: Gail Buckland found this. And I'd have to ask her where she found it, but it's mi--as soon as she--she presented it to me, I said, `Stop. We've got to have that right at the beginning of the book and I want to make it as big as I can.' It's a man standing vertiginously on the top of the Woolworth Building as it goes up in 1913. And for a time, that was the tallest building in the United States, and then it was overtaken.
LAMB: What's the--what's it say?
Mr. EVANS: It says--the picture on the preceding page is a picture of Wyoming and the rolling hills and I wanted these two pictures to follow each other because East and West both exemplify high endeavor, which you see immediately in the strong verticality of the man on the skyscraper--the thrusting dominant man. Don't forget when this book begins in 1889, which I think is essential to understanding the 20th century, the first skyscraper's just gone up in New York, 1889, so the vertical energy and then on the--preceeding it, the Wyoming photograph of the countryside because underneath both of those there are turbulent forces, and I wanted to say that Wyoming looks marvelous and peaceful but, in fact, the cattle barons are defending their free ranges from the 160-acre homesteaders. And the same as in the East and the West. We're seeing the battle between money and the individual.
LAMB: Somewhere in this huge spread--it's almost two full pages--down there at the bottom near my hand is a man named Benjamin Harrison.
Mr. EVANS: Right.
LAMB: What about this photo made you want to put it in your book?
Mr. EVANS: Well, I began the century--"The American Century" begins in 1889 with Benjamin Harrison, which is the beginning of the second 100 years of America as a system of government, and he--he's a dainty little man, very small. In fact, of Benjamin Harrison--there you can see him--when he was in the White House, he used to keep people waiting. And the secretary said to one senator, `The president cannot be seen now.' He said, `Has he got that small?' I mean, he was such a tiny fellow. But he had one passion, in which you saw in that photograph, which was he loved the American flag. All right. Benjamin Harrison brought the American flag into American political life in a way that had never been before. There he is. He--he's--the whi--the White House didn't fly the Stars and Stripes until Benjamin Harrison came in. He gave an order that it should be flown whenever he was there. He gave an order that all the executive buildings should fly the Stars and Stripes. And now, of course, both parties claim the flag, but it was put into their hands by this neglected president, Benjamin Harrison.
LAMB: You spend a lot of time talking about American presidents. Why?
Mr. EVANS: I--one--I do spend a lot of time, Brian, it's quite true. At the same time, I did not organize my book in terms of presidencies. I organized it in terms of themes and with chronological relevance. Well, because, one, the chief executive is very important. And in various aspects, many of the lives and philosophies and policies of today go back--take Woodrow Wilson, for instance. America's interventionist role in the world and its moral philosophy regarding foreign affairs comes from Woodrow Wilson. Domestically, the attitude of bringing federal government into affairs goes to Teddy Roosevelt. You take Grover Cleveland before him. He wouldn't even give seed to the farmers when it was going to waste because everybody should stand up for himself. Or you take Franklin Roosevelt and the interventionist idea of the welfare state comes from him. So we have to understand the characters of the president--Coolidge and Hoover and they're a fascinating collection of people all--all together. They make a wonderful photograph.
LAMB: This is William McKinley if you look at this photograph. And the cutline says `The martyr. Dinner at the home of Marc Hanna, left, and the run-up to the Republican 1896 convention with McKinley, as always, at the side of his wife, Ida Saxon, center foreground, a banker's daughter. He sat next to her so as to be able to throw a napkin over her face if she went into a convulsion, a not uncommon occurrence following the difficult birth of their second daughter.'
Mr. EVANS: That's exactly right. And there, the man on the left is Marc Hanna, who was the political boss of the Republican Party and got the money. And they had such a devoted relationship, that when he was governor, every day at 3:00 he would look outside the window of the governor's office and wave and she was in a hotel window across the way and at 3:00 she would wave to him. That was the relationship they had. Of course, he was assassinated and it was a terrible tragedy.
LAMB: Do you know this man? This admiral?
Mr. EVANS: Admiral Mahan.
Mr. EVANS: Yes.
LAMB: Why did you pick him? And you gave him a full page.
Mr. EVANS: A full pa--Admiral Mahan has a marvelous head and a marvelous American who's buried in--in Quog in Long Island, where I go to frequently. Admiral Mahan was the inventor of the adoption of sea power being decisive in civilizations. He had a tremendous influence, not just on America. The keiser ordered copies, everybody ordered copies. And at that point in time America was really protected on the seaboard by the British Royal Navy, and the British Royal Navy was infinitely the most powerful instrument in 1890, 1900, 1914. And Mahan advocated very, very strongly that America must build up the Navy. Incidentally, he was a very funny man because he hated going to sea, he hated sailors. He would spend all his time in his cabin reading books.
LAMB: Theodore Roosevelt, this photograph, including his daughter, Alice, his second wife.
Mr. EVANS: Yes.
LAMB: They're on--right there on the right. You gave almost two full pages to this. What about this photo do you like?
Mr. EVANS: Well, this is a marvelous example of one of the most important institutions in America, which is the family. Family is more important than the presidency, in fact. And Teddy Roosevelt was such a marvelous, marvelous father. He had pillow fights in the White House. It used to resound with yells as he fought with his kids. This is the same man who would take the--the Cabinet skinny-dipping in the Potomac. And his relationship with his children--I've described what happens to each of his children in the captions there. I think Teddy Roosevelt is, of course, probably the most red-blooded of all the characters in the book.
LAMB: Did you have a favorite photograph or a favorite president in this book?
Mr. EVANS: I think--I don't know. Emotionally, Teddy Roosevelt because of his independence of mind, his tremendous courage. I like the story I tell of when Congress decided that it wasn't going to preserve any more public land for forests and they'd passed the legislation. But he had a cut of 10 days' time, so Teddy Roosevelt got together and...
LAMB: Here he is with John Muir.
Mr. EVANS: ...with Pinchot--yes, there he is with John Muir. He's a great lover of the outdoors, Teddy. And he exemplified it, not just by breathing in the pure air, but in that short period of time before the ax fell, he designated, I think, more than 100 new national forests and got them through. I mean, that was the kind of bravado he had. He was fantastic. So he's my--probably one of my favorite characters in the whole book. Woodrow Wilson you admire intellectually, but it's hard to be warm--Arthur Schlesinger said, `Nobody known to history ever called him Woody.'
LAMB: You gave a full page--and one of the things you can't tell on the screen is how big this book is. What would you say--I mean, can you describe the size of the format?
Mr. EVANS: Yes. That's about a 9-by-12. And the woman we're looking at is an amazing character, who gets a line in history books, although she got more in the film "Red" by Warren Beatty. This is Emma Goldman, the anarchist. And I began the book hating her because I read how she might have influenced a lover to try and assassinate the steel magnate Henry Frick, whose Frick gallery is in New York, of course. And, actually, I think that was a calumny. I don't think she did do that. But she did speak up for women, for the right of women to do what they wanted with their bodies, to do what they wanted with their relationships.
And one of the tragic things is that--she came from Russia. She was an immigrant to America. And she spoke up so well against the draft and the war and all those things. She was a t--very typical left-wing, but she was an anarchist. She wasn't a socialist. She was an anarchist; she didn't believe in any government. And Herbert Hoover had her deported, and he deported her back to the Soviet Union. The worst place in the world for Emma Goldman was the Soviet Union, which is a totalitarian state. She absolutely hated it and couldn't stand it. She died in Highgate Cemetery in London--she's buried in Highgate Cemetery, I should say.
LAMB: You mentioned Woodrow Wilson earlier, and you have a two-page spread here with a photograph on the left of his wife, Edith, and over here on the right there is...
Mr. EVANS: Woodrow.
LAMB: ...Woodrow Wilson. You remember what--at what age he is here?
Mr. EVANS: He's 61, I think. And, of course, he's had his stroke in Pueblo in Colorado, and he's come back to the White House. He's had his beginnings of his stroke in Pueblo, Colorado, collapsed on the floor of the White House bathroom, and--and his wife just covered it up with the--with the cooperation of the--Dr. Gracen. And she decides in that period of time what papers will go in to him. So, basically, I call her the 28 1/2 president of the United States. She was, for a time, the most important woman in American history.
LAMB: Do you find very many people who were born in this country that know as much about the United States as you do?
Mr. EVANS: It would be a mark of inexcusable arrogance to say I don't find many, but, in fact, it's true. One of--one of the reasons I wrote the book is when I traveled through 50--40 states in 1956 and--and was reading American history and so on, I was amazed at how colorful it was, but how--when I tried to engage people in conversation about it, a lot of people didn't know. And one of the reasons I've written "American Century" is I want to convey my passion for it and particularly to the new immigrants who are coming here.
I think it's very important not simply that they know something about their own countries. I think that's secondary to what they must learn--there are 20 million people who weren't--weren't born here--that they must learn something about the people and the institutions which gave America this distinctive freedom, this distinctive prosperity at the moment.
LAMB: Edison is being served. Harding and Ford are to his left. And Firestone is in the left foreground.
Mr. EVANS: This is--this is a marvelous photograph. It was in a nature retreat where Warren Harding used to go. They used to put the tents up. And Henry Ford went along. At the moment he's not only playing with his food, he's nursing an ambition to succeed Warren Harding as president. And Edison, the great genius of the incandescent light and so on, and Harvey Firestone is there, so I call it Genius Camp South. But in the undergrowth at the back that you can't see, for the first time, we have two men operating cypher machines because the president wanted to keep in touch with the State Department.
Even though America was isolationist, we're seeing now America's involvement in the world. And this photograph leads all the way to those times when the president was ca--followed by a man with a football to blow up the world. This is the--this is the precedent.
LAMB: But right on the next page is this.
Mr. EVANS: This is one of the saddest photographs, and everybody who looks at it assumes it's from the South because the South and the lynching of blacks is a commonplace association. In fact, this was taken in Indiana. And when the Klan was revived in the '20s is--Indiana and the Midwest, which is the heart spring of the Klan--it wasn't simply anti-black by this time. It was anti-Catholic, anti-Jew. And these--the--the horrifying thing about that photograph were the expressions of the faces of the people who did the killing.
LAMB: What's been since this book--and what was the date this book actually hit the market?
Mr. EVANS: Oh, October 1998.
LAMB: What did you expect, and have you gotten what you expected?
Mr. EVANS: Yes. Well, what I hoped for and expect are slightly different. What I hoped for was what I got. What I expected was slightly less than what I got. I didn't expect, realistically, to have as many copies sold. And I didn't ex...
LAMB: What did you expect to sell?
Mr. EVANS: Forty thousand. And I didn't--and I hoped I would get the kind of wonderful reviews I have had, but I didn't expect them because I thought I might get--what I might--because this book is a hybrid between scholarship and journalism and--and an attempt to popularize as well as to analyze, I thought I ran the risk of being nitpicked by the scholars. But, in fact, the scholars have been absolutely terrific, and so I--I was very happy about that.
But I'm trying to be realistic about it. I said to my wife, who had seen me disappear into my study for over 12 years and emerge looking much older, `Don't expect to see this book on The New York Times Best Seller List.' She said, `No, of course not,' you know.
LAMB: Your--your wife ended up running The New Yorker.
Mr. EVANS: Yes.
LAMB: You've run a number of operations, including Random House and US News & World Report and other things. Did--did you ex--expect to come over here in this country and to be that successful, the two of you together?
Mr. EVANS: Oh, no. Oh, absolutely not. I mean...
LAMB: What's it feel like then?
Mr. EVANS: Well, it's absolutely exhilarating, and it's another answer to the question about American citizenship because here you have a country which is so extraordinarily welcoming to people coming from outside--extraordinary.
LAMB: OK. But can the reverse happen in--in Great Britain?
Mr. EVANS: No. I think not. I often ask myself if Ben Bradlee had gone to London, yes, I think a man of his stature probably would have got some kind of work, but it would have been slower than here--slower, whereas here nobody seemed to care. I--I felt like saying, you know, I was--I really come from Azerbaijan and not from England--I--because they didn't seem to care. And, of course, it--I was one of the first of the English journalists here to--to take a high position in magazine and journalism, and so many people have followed. And some people did get a bit critical of the so-called English Mafia. But on the whole, I think that the--the welcome in America is typical of American generosity.
LAMB: Here's a photograph of J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson. I want to read what you wrote in the cutline. It says, `who joined the bureau in 1928, were inseparable friends, giving rise to Washington gossip that they were lovers.' Why was that important to put in this cutline?
Mr. EVANS: Because there'd been--the public prints had been full of statements and discussions about Hoover. A book came out about three years ago saying that he wore a woman's dress, and almost every book about Hoover discusses their relationship. And--and I put it in to deny it, to say that the--the evidence for that was not convincing.
LAMB: Then there's this photograph of Adolf Hitler and--and others.
Mr. EVANS: Well, it's remark--the quality of that photograph is absolutely extraordinary, and there's another one, which Gail Buckland found. The intensity in that--and it conv--a tea party setting--it's like an "Alice in Wonderland" tea party setting. The tea party setting--but the intensity and the ferocity of Hitler's face is absolutely extraordinary. And I think...
LAMB: Minister Josef Goebbels.
Mr. EVANS: And Josef Goebbels. And now this was--I put this in because, at this time, the isolationists were holding back America from doing anything to stop the rise of fascism in Europe and--and was going--and the isolationists were responsible for--for the--for--for a terrible price being paid by World War II because at this time Hitler could have been stopped easily--easily; so could Japan, for that matter. And one of the interesting things is those people who, after the war, were the most vehemently anti-Communist, anti-Stalinist, were those people in the '30s who had actually refused to do anything and involve themselves with Europe, leading to the terrible tragedy of Soviet Communism sweeping over Europe by the end of the war.
LAMB: What do you know about Huey Long?
Mr. EVANS: I am fascinated by Huey Long. I mean, the--this is a photograph--the man on his right is called Allen. And Governor Huey Long--but, of course, he just did--he just did what Huey Long told him. He--the man on the right was called `OK, Allen' because he would OK anything. It was said if a leaf landed on his desk, he would sign it. And, of course, Huey Long was assassinated shortly after. So I find him an amazing character. One of the black marks against Franklin Roosevelt is he put the IRS on--on to Huey Long. He wanted to destroy Huey Long because he was worried about his mass appeal.
LAMB: You have a little section here on the Supreme Court.
Mr. EVANS: Yes.
LAMB: Look at this one. Chief Justice Charles Evan Hughes is an impressive figure, you say here, bearded in the center.
Mr. EVANS: Yes.
LAMB: Wh--what role does the Supreme Court play in the American system, from your point of view?
Mr. EVANS: Well, I've described in the early years how the Supreme Court in--misinterprets the 14th Amendment and due process and, really, elevates property rights in a way which is antithetical to m--the American Dream, arguing, the Supreme Court, in those days, particularly under Taft's very conservative leadership--arguing that a boy of 12 should have the freedom to make a contract with a coal owner to work for $1 a day underground. I mean, it was completely ridiculous. And it takes time for the Supreme Court to become on the side of the individual rather than the side of the manufacturer. Well, the manufacturers made great contributions to American prosperity. Nonetheless, the grave exploitations sanctioned by the Supreme Court was wrong.
But I follow the Supreme Court throughout the book. For instance, the freedom of the press. You have to go back to the Near v. Minnesota, case, where Charles Evan Hughes, on a five-to-four decision, gives the ruling that leads all the way to the Pentagon Papers case that the press shall not be restricted by prior restraint. And that goes back to the 1920 case when a young Lithuanian--not so young--Sam Shapiro, refuses to pay money to the mob, gets beaten up. Shapiro has his law books on his shelf. He knows what he's saying. A paper takes up his case. It conducts a campaign in the vile terms. The paper's shut down. Supreme Court finally says, `You can't shut down even a paper using vile language.' Very important case.
LAMB: You give a full page to one of your former countrymen.
Mr. EVANS: This is, I think, a marvelous photograph of Neville Chamberlain in all his--How can I put it?--naivete and confidence combined, rep--representative of the British ruling classes. He's been and he thinks he's made a deal with Hitler, which `will ensure peace in our time,' as he says getting off the airplane, whereas at the same time as this picture is being taken, Hitler is ranting and raving and says, `I'll hit him with his umbrella next time he comes.' And, no Chambers complete--Chamberlain, by the way, just got a telegram from Franklin Roosevelt, after Murdoch, saying, `Well'--after Munich, saying, `Well done.' And this is Roosevelt. Of course, Roosevelt in this period is trying to keep his coalition together to get the New Deal through.
LAMB: What do you not like about this country?
Mr. EVANS: This country? I don't like the tendency to violence, and I don't like a certain extremism which runs through some of the politics.
LAMB: Where do you think it comes from?
Mr. EVANS: I think it comes from--Richard Hofstadtler wrote about the paranoid complex in American politics. I think in a very large country, in a heterogeneous country where many people have come anewly and some people are worried about that, I think that it tend--it can tend to produce an extremism that you identify with a smaller group; you feel more comfortable. And I think sometimes the uniformity of American opinion may be traceable to this wish to belong; that if you--if--particularly if you're new or you feel somehow out of place, that if you can--if you can belong to the conventional opinion, you feel kind of safer.
LAMB: This man from Wisconsin.
Mr. EVANS: Yes.
LAMB: Heard his name a lot in the last year: McCarthy...
Mr. EVANS: Yes.
Mr. EVANS: Right.
LAMB: Is it used properly today?
Mr. EVANS: I think it is in the sense of there being a kind of hysteria. Of course, I wouldn't say that everybody today, using the same witch-hunt tactics of McCarthy, whereas--How could I put it?--as dishonest as Joe--Joe was so dishonest. There's a photograph in the book of him--McCarthy and Atchison getting in an elevator, and Atchison is--oh, we can see it here. And there's Atchison. You're getting in a per--in an elevator with a man who's called you a traitor, which Atchison is--and McCarthy has called Atchison, `Traitor, traitor, traitor, traitor.' Of course, he wasn't. He was a Cold Warrior.
And you can that Atchison is absolutely shocked and horrified. His mustache is virtually frozen. But Joe is smiling because Joe had no idea the effect he had on people. To him, it was a game. An interesting thing is an attempt now to revive Joe McCarthy saying, `He was right, there were Communists.' He was abs--there were. There were probably 200. Problem is Joe didn't find a single one of them.
LAMB: What about these two?
Mr. EVANS: Well, this is a very tragic story because these are the Rosenbergs. And I say in "The American Century" that they were--Rosenbergs--Julius Rosenberg was certainly guilty, and she probably was. But the fact of their execution is questionable.
The point about McCarthyism in America, Brian, I think is this--and I put it in the book. America produced the antibodies as a body does when it's infected by a virus. So at the end of that period, thanks to the Judiciary, thanks to papers like The Washington Post, The Milwaukee Journal, The New Yorker, The Reporter, America emerged as a stronger body able to take from travesty and able to discuss things and defend it, even as we speak.
This is the Hollywood 10. The subject is the Hollywood 10. This is Lauren Bacall, Betty Bacall and Humphrey Bogart going to protest about the attempt to control the production of Hollywood movies and root people out, the blacklist and all that. And no doubt, some of those people were Communists. It's quite true.
LAMB: Would you settle, once and for all, what liberals think of Alger Hiss?
Mr. EVANS: I think there are some liberals left still who would like, still, to believe that he was innocent because he was such a--a striking figure, it was such a striking cause. And the fact that Richard Nixon was the prosecutor have led many people to suspect that Alger Hiss must have been framed. A--I'm sorry for the sake of his son, who's a fine person, to say that I think Alger Hiss was guilty, and I think the evidence--Allen Weinstein's book, "Perjury," is followed up by another book called "The Haunted Wood." And I think that the evidence now is that Alger Hiss was a Soviet spy.
LAMB: And you--you write here--it says, `The Man Who Went To Yalta.' Did you choose your words carefully?
Mr. EVANS: Yes.
LAMB: Says, `In 1996, the Hiss roller coaster went downhill fast. The National Security Archive released more decrypted wartime Soviet cables and claimed that "Ales," in a Washington-to-Moscow cable of March 30th, 1945, was probably Alger Hiss.'
Mr. EVANS: Yeah.
LAMB: Can you still get an argument started in the salons of New York?
Mr. EVANS: I don't think you will get much of an argument, though. As I say, Hiss' son is going to--would--would challenge that assertion there. But I think now that's probably a cause that's not going to be fought over. That's my guess. Same thing with the Rosenbergs. I think, in liberal New York--and I don't claim to speak for it, nor do I speak for conservative New York--everybody would say that the execution of the Rosenbergs was wrong. You know, the story I tell in the book there is that Judge Kaufman says, `I went to the synagogue to pray for guidance on whether I should pass a sentence of death on the Rosenbergs,' which is completely mockery. He went to the telephone booth and spoke to Roy Cohn of the Cohn-McCarthy period, `What would be the effect in The New York Times of sacrificing two Jews to die?' And Roy Cohn said, `Fine. It's good for the Jews.' And that's the story behind the execution of the Rosenbergs.
LAMB: What do you think of these two men, Cyrus Vance and, on the left, Robert McNamara?
Mr. EVANS: Oh, deluded, deluded, deluded. I've been very close to McNamara. In fact, I commissioned his book when I was at Random House. And, on retrospect--and Cyrus Vance, less deluded. But the more I examined that record, the more I found it wanting. And I think Robert McNamara deluded himself as well as the American people about Vietnam.
LAMB: Can publishers, like when--when you were for seven years the publisher of Random House, can you influence public policy, or can you influence what people read by--based on your own thought about what's right and wrong and what sh--you know, should be out there on the market?
Mr. EVANS: I think that, as a publisher, I didn't--Huey Long has a phrase about Henry Luce of Time magazine. He said, `Henry is like a sh--a--a seller of shoes. He sold only the shoes to fit himself.' And I think a publisher has to sell shoes that fit other people. In other words, there's an aspect of publishing which is a public utility. If I find a convincing argument or a convincing narrative or analysis, which actually I still don't like, then I would have the duty to publish it if it was a--commercially viable and--and literature.
But I think you can have some influence as a publisher. For instance, the--take the book "The Civil Action," which is a movie. I published that book. Bob Loomis is the editor. And I relaunched it and relaunched it because I thought it said an important thing about the way personal injury litigation was conducted in America. But if it had been just an argument and not so brilliantly done by Jonathan Harr, I wouldn't have published it. In other words, the desire to change public opinion has to be subordinate to, A, the duties of public utility and, B, the literary and commercial viability of the book.
LAMB: At the beginning of the book you have this photograph...
Mr. EVANS: Yes.
LAMB: ...taken in 1947...
Mr. EVANS: Right.
LAMB: ...in New York's Union Square.
Mr. EVANS: Right.
LAMB: And then way in the back you have this photograph...
Mr. EVANS: Yes.
LAMB: ...which was taken in 1997.
Mr. EVANS: Right.
LAMB: How'd you do that?
Mr. EVANS: Well, Jenerim Liebling took the first photograph in 1947, and we asked him--I asked him to go back and--and--to Union Square and photograph as it was all these years later. Unfortunately, the park was closed, so I had to ring up Henry Stern, the parks commissioner, and say, `Please open it so that people can sit on the steps again,' which they did. And one of the reasons I did this is that the first half of the statue, you see, has a quote, "How little do my countrymen know." And only when you get to the back--the second half--the back inscription do you see, "what benefits they enjoy which no other country on Earth enjoys."
It's the Thomas Jefferson quote, and that is actually the theme of my book because the freedoms enjoyed in America are not as sufficiently appreciated as they might be. And the origins of those freedom and the people who won the fights one way or another to preserve and enhance those freedoms from 1889 to 1989 are what the--my book is about. So that seemed a perfect frontage piece and end piece.
LAMB: What's next?
Mr. EVANS: I would like to write the history of the first 100 years in the same kind of style, and I was very excited at the prospect possibly of writing a young person's guide to the entire story of America because I feel that in the schools is where education is obviously the 21st century light motif. And so I think I would like to write those two books side by side, beginning, as I say, working up through the Founding Fathers, the arguments, the Civil War and so on coming to nine--coming to 1889, the second 100 years.
LAMB: Harold Evans our guest. This is the book. It's called "The American Century." We thank you very much.
Mr. EVANS: Thank you for being--having me here.
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