BRIAN LAMB, HOST:Henry Grunwald, author of "One Man's America," this show is usually about politics, but I've got to start out by asking you about your relationship with
Mr. HENRY GRUNWALD, AUTHOR, "ONE MAN'S AMERICA": My relationship with Marilyn
Monroe was, as I--as I said in my book, unfortunately entirely platonic. It
happened--I--I met her when I was in Hollywood on assignment--on another
assignment, actually. I had to do a cover story on Ava Gardner. I went to a
studio party which, to my great dismay, turned out to be a party for an
all-male war picture, no beautiful women around, until Marily--this
stu--stunning blonde appeared and heard about my complaint and said, `Well, God
has sent me to make it up to you.' And then we became friends and--for a while,
and then she was sort of swept away in--in her rising stardom, and we were a
little bit in touch after that, but not much. I thought she was charming and,
in a peculiar way, sort of innocent.
LAMB: What about Ava Gardner?
Mr. GRUNWALD: She was not innocent.
LAMB: There's a scene you paint in here where I guess she was up on--What?--on
top of the bar or something, dancing?
Mr. GRUNWALD: No, no, she wasn't--not on top of the bar. She was on top of
her own living room coffee table dancing, and then a spoilsport press agent
came in, caught up--because we had escaped the--the press agent, and he caught
up with us, panting, and the--the--the evening was soon over.
LAMB: How much of your life was spent in Hollywood?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Very little, actually. I mean, I--basically, when I first
started writing for Time, I wrote foreign affairs, but I had a--sort of a show
business background through my father, who was a librettist in Vienna. And I
myself had a longstanding ambition of becoming a playwright. My editors knew
about this, and so occasionally, when there was a--a special show business or
movie or Broadway story to do, I might get the assignment. But all--overall, I
never really spent all that much time in Hollywood.
LAMB: What's the point of this book? What--what was the reason for writing it?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, I suppose, to some extent, it must have been ego--egotism.
I hope there were better motives as well. I thought--and several publishers
told me that they thought I had a fairly i--interesting life. And I observed,
through my position at the time, a great many of the people and events of this
century, so it seemed like a good idea to--to write about it.
LAMB: Where's this picture of--it appears that--is this your mother?
Mr. GRUNWALD: No, this is my--this is my nurse, whose nickname was Tatya,
which is sort of a German equivalent of nanny. And this was taken in a summer
resort in Austria called Bahd Ischl, not too far from Salzburg. She was my--my
very dear and beloved nurse and actually stayed with our household long beyond
the time I needed a nurse.
LAMB: Where were you born?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I was born in Vienna.
LAMB: What year?
Mr. GRUNWALD: What year? 1922.
LAMB: How long did you stay there?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Stayed in--stayed in Vienna until 1938. I was just 15 when
we--when we were thrown out, basically, by the Nazis and--and left after the
LAMB: A picture of your mother here.
Mr. GRUNWALD: A picture of my mother here and my sister--my older sister.
LAMB: What was your mother like?
Mr. GRUNWALD: My mother was quite beautiful, as I think you can tell from this
picture. She was very--she was a little spartan. She was--she was very
precise in her ways. She was disciplined, quite--quite charming when she
wanted to be. And she was, in our household, sort of the arbiter of behavior,
of morals and--and so on because my father, who was a playwright, as I said,
and much given to the theater, did not really pay much attention to these
LAMB: How--t--tell more of the story about how you got out of Austria.
Mr. GRUNWALD: All right. A--as you know, the--the Germans, after many threats
and so on, invaded--moved into Austria in nin--in--in March of 1938. We should
have gotten out much sooner, but we--we didn't. When the Nazis moved in, my
father, who was not political but a fairly prominent Jew in Vienna, was
imprisoned. I was expelled from my school, along with all other Jewish
students. Fortunately, by great good luck, my father did not wind up in a
concentration camp. He was released eventually. And we were able--what I can
only call--we were able to buy ourselves out of Austria. This was, at that
time, a quasi-legal procedure; the German authorities always wanted to keep
everything seemingly legal. And by more or less giving up our entire
possessions, we were then allowed to leave. And we first went to
Czechoslovakia, which was--we were very nearby--then to Paris. And in Paris,
we felt safe for a couple of years until the Nazis appeared again, and then we
decamped Paris as well.
LAMB: When did you come, first time, to New York?
Mr. GRUNWALD: After our departure of Paris, we did the--we followed the--what
is almost the usual refugee route through Casablanca, Lisbon and then New York.
Like, we arrived here on the S.S. Exeter on September 20th, 1940.
LAMB: And I've got a picture here of you when you were at NYU.
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yes.
LAMB: And it's all--you're all the way down here at the end of this.
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yes.
LAMB: We jump way ahead here.
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yeah.
LAMB: What year did you start at New York University?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I started at New York University probably in 1941 or '42,
probably '42. I finished at NYU for--in three years because I--I attended
summer sessions and--so it must have been '42. Yeah.
LAMB: What'd you study there?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I studied philosophy. My original major had been journalism. I
was rather disillusioned, however, in a very short time by the journalism
school, and philosophy intrigued me and so I switched to that. I had the good
fortune to study philosophy under two very interesting professors, namely
Sidney Hook and James Burnham.
LAMB: Who was Sidney Hook and James Burnham?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Both were former Communists. Sidney Hook was a--a convinced and
rather courageous socialist who believed that socialism could exist within a
democracy; that it was not necessarily--by no means necessarily a dictatorial
system. He--he was--he was very impatient with metaphysics, with religion,
with all that--with all that stuff. He believed in reason, in human reason,
Burnham had also been a Communist, also left the party, also turned against
communism and became much more of a right-wing ide--ideologue than--than
B--than Hook was. Burnham wrote a number of interesting books. One of them,
the best--perhaps--perhaps the best known was called "The Managerial
Revolution," which foresaw a sort of quasi-dictatorial corporate state.
LAMB: Another name you throw in around those two is Mortimer Adler.
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yes.
LAMB: Where did you first meet him?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I first met Mortimer Adler when I was assigned to write a cover
story about him. He was, at that point, engaged in an extraordinary
enterprise. He had--he and Robert Hutchins had edited the so-called Great
Books Series. They believed that--that it--that college education should
really go back to the basic classics of what we now call the Western canon.
And he then--after having published this--this collection of the Great Books,
he decided to create what he called a syntopicon, which was basically a very
detailed index to all the great ideas that were found in these Great Books.
And I did a cover story about him when he was engaged in this huge enterprise,
and we became friends.
LAMB: What would you say to folks--and we get it on the call-in show all the
time--that college professors are all left? Some think they're all Communists.
I mean, that's the extreme, the calls that come in. What was--y--you mentioned
your professors. What impact did their philosophy have on you? And did you
find yourself going along with everything they said?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, I think their--their philo--their impact was c--was
considerable, but ones--such impact is always conditioned by what is already
inside oneself. I--I--from--from very early years on, I disliked communism
because it seemed to me to be, frankly, not all that different from the Nazism
that I had experienced as a child or as a young--as a teen-ager in--in Vienna.
The--and also, I always felt that universal equality was unattainable, that the
only way to--for--for all people to be equal is to--is f--is--to keep them
equal is by force because people are not naturally equal. So communism was
something that--that I really disliked a lot, and hearing from very different
points of view about this from Hook and Burnham, that--that did reinforce
my--my convictions about that.
LAMB: And after you left NYU, how long did you stay in touch with people like
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, I stayed in touch with him for quite a few years and
not--I would see him from time to time. We corresponded a little bit, but I
cannot, unfortunately, say that I was--we were very close in later years
because we were different--leading different lives. I was very busy
being--becoming and being a journalist and so on.
Mr. GRUNWALD: I did stay in touch with Mortimer Adler, anyway, longer
than--than with--with Sidney Hook.
LAMB: There's a picture of you and your first, I guess, mug shot when you went
to work for Time magazine.
Mr. GRUNWALD: That's right.
LAMB: What year was that?
Mr. GRUNWALD: That was 1944. I went to work for Time magazine as a part-time
nighttime office boy at $13 for three nights, which, at the time, didn't seem
LAMB: Now did you have to--did you have any military experience in there, or
did you j--during the war?
Mr. GRUNWALD: No, I did not have any military experience. I was,
unfortunately, classified 4F.
LAMB: Why did you pick Time magazine?
Mr. GRUNWALD: It was pure accident. Well, first of all, I picked journalism
because while I wanted to be a playwright, as I said before, I didn't think
that playwriting would lead to sort of very early moneymaking, and I felt I
needed to make some money to help my parents. And so I chose journalism as
what I thought was at least a writing profession, even though not what I
thought I wanted to do. Time was an accident. A very good friend of mine in
college had gone to work as a part-time office boy. He said, `Look, it's a
little--it's a little pocket money. It's a nice place, interesting people.
You can make all the free phone calls you want. You can pick up a lot of
stationery and pads and pencils and so on. It's fun. Try it.' And so I
thought, `Well, why not?' I--I went, applied for a job and managed to get one.
LAMB: And if you went there in 1944, how long did you stay?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I stayed on and off until I retired from Time Incorporated in
LAMB: On and off--did you leave any...
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, I--I--I--I shouldn't say `on and off.' That's--that's
misleading. I left--I left Time--I was out of Time for one--for one relatively
short period when the copy boy routine didn't seem very attractive after all
and I didn't see much immediate chance for advancement. so I went to work for
a labor newspaper. It was called the Trade Union Courier, which was quite
exciting because I did everything. I did some reporting; I wrote editorials
about the minimum wage and other exciting topics like that. And I also
occasionally would fill in for the comp--for the compositor for--when he was
drunk, which was quite often. And it was very exciting in those days to
actually set type, lead type. And--but then I drifted back to Time and--and
the rest--for the rest of my professional career just stayed there.
LAMB: We'll get back to the--the--Time magazine very shortly. You were
ambassador to Austria for how many years, appointed by what president?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I was appointed by Ronald Reagan, reappointed by George Bush,
and I stayed there for two years.
LAMB: Has anybody come up to you and said, `Are you Mandy Grunwald's father?'
Mr. GRUNWALD: All the time.
LAMB: Does that surprise you at this stage in your life?
Mr. GRUNWALD: It doesn't surprise me in the least. She's a very--in
Washington and elsewhere, for that matter, a very well-known practitioner, a
political consultant. She has been in the press a lot. And it is--it's a
great delight to be known as Mandy's father.
Mr. GRUNWALD: I mean, it's only just because, for many years, she and my two
other children were known as Henry Grunwald's children, so it's--it's--it's
only--it's only fair.
LAMB: What are your other two children doing?
Mr. GRUNWALD: My son Peter is in the movie business, and my daughter Lisa is a
nov--is a journalist and novelist. She has, in fact, just published her third
novel, which is called "New Year's Eve" and which, if I may put in a plug, I
think is a very fine novel.
LAMB: Mandy Grunwald worked for President Clinton. You were appointed by
Presidents Reagan and Bush. Do you two agree on politics or disagree more?
Mr. GRUNWALD: We disagree on politics and sort of political philosophy a good
deal. We are--we are quite polite to each other and I think we understand each
other's viewpoints without necessarily agreeing with--with it. I think it's
also fair to say that Mandy has calmed down a little bit from the point of view
of--of her sort of Democratic enthusiasm, but she is--capital D--but she
remains a loyal Democrat and has--has several other good Democratic candidates.
LAMB: What was your philosophy when you raised those three kids about how much
you wanted your ideas to get through to them?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, I didn't necessarily want to get--to get my political
ideas through to them, and if I--if I tried, I certainly didn't succeed because
they are all dec--considerably more liberal than I am--not that I consider
myself an archreactionary, but they are more liberal than I am. Mostly, I
wanted them to be good students. I wanted them to read and be interested
in--in literature and in public affairs, too. Obviously, I gave them my
opinions about a lot m--a lot of issues, but they didn't necessarily stick.
And I certainly didn't try in any real way to indoctrinate them. I think
LAMB: Recently, you wrote an article in The New Yorker about some problems
you're having with your sight.
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yes.
LAMB: Why'd you write it?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I wrote it because I discovered that this particular disease
that I have, which is called macular degeneration, which I had not heard about
until about five years ago--literally not heard about--I found that a great
many people whom I ran into either had it, too, or had relatives, aunts,
parents and so on, who had it. And there was a con--great degree of interest
in it. And also--that--that's the main reason I wrote it. A very minor and
perhaps trivial reason is that I got tired of explaining to people why I didn't
recognize them at a party or why I had difficulty signing a restaurant check.
I thought I would just explain it once and for all. But the f--I'm being
slightly jocular now. Bois--basically, I did it because I wanted to--to tell
people what it was like to have this problem and what it was all about. For
some reason that I can't quite explain, not a great deal had ever been written
about this in the popular press.
LAMB: How much can you see now?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, looking at you now, I see the outline of your face as a
bit of a blur. I am not sure that I can see whether you are at this moment
smiling or frowning or something in between. I can see the outline of your
suit. You are holding something which, I take it, is a book--I know that
because you held it up before--couldn't identify it exactly now. A lot of--a
lot of it has to do with light. I mean, if--if the lights were on you in a
somewhat--in a somewhat different way, I would prob--or if I were closer to
you, I could see you better.
LAMB: How have you had to change your life because of it?
Mr. GRUNWALD: My most difficult--the most difficult change, of course,
was--involved reading. I was always, of course, a passionate reader and also
professionally needed to read. Reading became, at first, almost impossible,
and so I had to--I mean, you--I--I could read with a great--great deal of
magnification with one of those closed-circuit television cameras--was very
cumbersome. And so I started to mostly listen to books on tape or--and/or I
had people to help me. They would read selected newspaper stories for me and
magazine stories, and I would li--listen to them on a--on a Walkman. But that
does change one's life. The inability to suddenly pick up a book and browse
is--is very difficult. I recently had a slight improvement so that I can
actually now read again with strong light and not for too long because it gets
tiring. But I--it is a--it's a great improvement.
LAMB: How did it affect writing this book?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, about halfway through I had increasing difficulty with the
word processor, which I actually love. And so I was able to persuade a la--a
woman whom I'd known before and who had worked for Vanity Fair and then moved
to Hawaii--I persuaded her to come back to New York--she--I think she was a
little bit of ti--tired of Hawaii--and to go to work for me. And I would
dictate to her. She would read things back to me. I would dictate again; I
would correct, edit and so on. But basically, that is how I wrote the book.
Now she would also print out pages for me in slightly larger type which I could
see and--and fiddle with. But it took, on her part--and her na--by the way,
happens to be Sarah Lewis, and she is--she's quite marvelous. She--she was
very, very patient about all this; we both had to be very patient. And that's
how I wrote the book.
Now when I told this to Bill Buckley, who is a friend of mine and, by the way,
a great computer addict, I would almost say, he said, `Well, I can't believe
that when you dictate, it won't sound different from what you actually typed or
put on the--on the word processor.' But I think I can say that it--there's
really--it's really different--difficult, if not impossible, to see the
difference because I kept going over it and over it to make sure that it
was--that it sounded right.
LAMB: Is this eye condition something that can be cured?
Mr. GRUNWALD: No, it cannot be cured. It can be stabilized, and I hope that
it is now stable. It ha--was stabilized partly through laser treatment.
It--the improvement I mentioned before had a lot to do with a cataract which
aggravated the condition and which has now been removed and replaced. But it
cannot--it cannot, by the--according to the current state of medical knowledge,
cannot be improved.
LAMB: There's one thing I remember reading in the article, that every day you
could--you had some device you would look into to know whether or not it was
getting better or getting worse. Do you still do that?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I--I do that very little now because, as I said, it's--it's
fairly--things are fairly stable now. And if things are getting worse, I
notice it even without this little device. The device is a small card with a
grid on it, and I looked at it regularly during the period when things were
getting--wh--when things were still progressing. And if the lines on this
little grid waver--seem to waver or if the dot in the center of the grid is
invisible, then you know you're in--you're in--in more trouble than you were
LAMB: You say s--in the middle of your book that the peak power for Time
magazine was probably its 40th anniversary in 1963, I think.
Mr. GRUNWALD: Right.
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, I think it had something do with the fact that Henry Luce
was still around and still very vigorous. He died--he died four years later.
It had something to do with the fact that--that the American public still felt
that it needed to be informed, to be well-informed, in order to be with it, to
b--to be a good citizen or even a good cocktail party guest. I think the
desire for information paradoxically has declined as more and more information
is now available to us from all kinds of sources. It surrounds us. It jumps
at us from t--from television and from the Internet and so on.
Also, this was before--it's not exactly connected with Time, but it was--this
moment was before the assassination of John Kennedy. And without being too
sentimental or too romantic about it, I do think that that assassination caused
a--a kind of crack in the American spirit, in the American mood. And the--the
'60s, with all their turmoil and their--their denigration of--of American
values and so on forward, '63 was just before that happened, and I think,
therefore, a magazine like Time had a lot of authority still and a lot of
LAMB: What was your job in 1963 at Time?
Mr. GRUNWALD: In 1963 I was a senior editor, I believe, in charge of--yes, in
charge of foreign affairs.
LAMB: Of all the jobs you had, which one was the most important to you?
Mr. GRUNWALD: The best job I had and, in a sense, the most important to me was
being managing editor of Time. Time is a--was and is a wonderful instrument
for an editor or, for that matter, for a writer. And being able to shape that
magazine every week, to decide on its covers, to decide what stories were in,
what stories were out, how they should be--how they should be covered was, you
know, really un--incredibly exciting. I moved on later on to become editor in
chief of all the Time Inc. publications, which certainly, in terms of
importance--general importance was very much import--very important, indeed.
But I must confess that the personal satisfaction of hands-on editing was
greater than the--the satisfaction that you get out of editing o--or
supervising a lot of different magazines from a slightly greater remove.
LAMB: What do you think of Time magazine today?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I think Time magazine today is g--is very good. I think it has
a lot of difficulties, along with most other publications, where I think one of
the difficulties is that the--for one reason or another, the essence of the
newsmagazine, which was very rigorous departmentalization or
compartmentalization--national affairs, foreign news, so on and so forth--has
begun to fade somewhat. It's still there in a vestigial form, but it
isn't--isn't very evident anymore. It does not--it no longer has the sense of
summary, of wrapping up all the im--most of the important news of the week in
one package. I say this not because I want to criticize my successors but
because I think the mood, the attitude of the audience have changed, so that
editing Time today or, I suspect, any--any other news publication has become
much, much more difficult.
LAMB: Showed a picture earlier and I'll show it again of Clare Boothe Luce and
Henry Luce. What were those two people like?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, you must understand that I was not an intimate of theirs,
although I became quite friendly with Mrs. Luce after her husband died. And
she, I think, had mellowed considerably. She had been a very prickly lady.
The relationship between the two--you know, we found out things about them that
we--since then that we didn't--the only their intimate friends knew at the
time, certainly not the staff.
Their marriage was unconventional. They both led, to some extent, quite
separate lives with affairs and--and all that. But I have to say that Luce
always seemed extremely proud of--of her when she got a--when she got a new
job. For instance, when she became ambassador to Italy, he was very, very
proud of her and he made what was, undoubtedly, something of a sacrifice by
living half the year in Rome in her shadow, as it were. I mean, it--it's
difficult to think of Henry Luce as being in a--in anybody's shadow, but she
was the ambassador and he had--you know, he was the spouse. He did this
because I think he admired her and, in hi--in his way, loved her.
LAMB: What was his politics--what were his politics?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, his politics were very Republican. They were not
reactionary, at least not in my opinion, but they w--they were fairly solidly
conservative. One indication of where he stood came when Lyndon Johnson
and--and Goldwater ran against each other. Clare Luce backed Goldwater and
Henry Luce, though a Republican, really preferred Johnson--Lyndon Johnson. So
I repeat, he was a conservative, but not--not a--not what we would--now would
call an extreme rightist by any means.
LAMB: What would he think of the politics of Time magazine today?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I think he would think that Time magazine is probably a bit too
liberal by his--by his--by his standards and perhaps, more than that, not
terribly consistent because Time, for perfectly good reasons which I do not
want to second-guess, now prints opinions of all--of every stripe. You might
find a very liberal essay one week; you might find a very conservative essay
another week. The--the--the notion that Time should have a consistent--a more
or less consistent philosophical and political line has disappeared, and I
don't think he would like that. He might be persuaded it is necessary for all
kinds of reasons, but he--I don't think he would like it.
LAMB: You have a chapter in which you talk a lot about this man right here,
Mr. GRUNWALD: Whittaker Chambers, yes.
LAMB: He was your boss at one time.
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yes, he was my boss at one time. He was the editor who first
gave me a crack at writing when I was a copy boy there. I then went to work as
a writer, partly--part of the time under him, then under others. And he was a
remarkable man, needless to say.
In the early days, I did not know all that much about his Communist past. I
found him very kind as an editor. Once, when I was in the middle of a cover
story--a difficult cover story and had an attack of total panic, he sent me to
the movies to relax, which very few editors I know would have done. He had
some--he told some very funny stories about his life and was extremely warm and
soft in speaking of his children and his wife. But he was naturally a--a very
ferocious anti-Communist and r--got into a lot of trouble with Time foreign
correspondents who, in those years, still thought--many of whom still thought
that the Soviet Union was essentially a benign and potentially democratic
country and that criticizing the Soviet Union was an act--a strike against
peace. He didn't believe that. He felt that the Soviets were what they, in
fact, were. And many--many of his correspondents, like John Hersey and others,
Gradually, he drifted--he was moved to other--to other areas of the magazine,
but needless to say I think his reading of the Soviet Union has been proved
LAMB: Did he a--actually hire you?
Mr. GRUNWALD: No, he did not hire me. The man who hired me was the--was the
managing editor at that time, a gentleman named T.S. Matthews, who, when I was
an office boy, said he would give me a chance to try out as a writer, but
warned me that if I failed, I could not go back to being a c--a copy boy. And
I took that chance.
LAMB: You say about Whitaker Chambers, when he went through his visibility back
in 1948 and beyond, that you stuck up for him among your colleagues and that
people gave you a lot of static on that.
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yes, that's right. Because...
LAMB: Was it hard to do that--stick up for him? And--and were there any others
around you that were doing the same thing?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Oh, yes. There was a--there was a--a relatively small group
of--of friends--perhaps I should say a cell of friends--who believed in
Whitaker Chambers and stuck up for him. But I must say we were in the
minority. Most of the staff disliked him for various reasons, and they
were--they were reasons I could understand why people might distrust and
dislike him. He was a slightly strange man, he was mysterious, he was
conspiratorial. And he certainly had a--a very checkered past. It was
sometimes difficult to stick up for him, and I'm not trying to suggest here
that I sort of went up and down crusading for him, but I defended him when I
had a chance and believed in him.
LAMB: When Alger Hiss recently died, The Wall Street Journal ran an excerpt of
this book in there. What was the point of that and why did they choose that?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, the way this happened was that some years ago while I was
in the midst of writing this book, I thought I should finally talk to--to Hiss
with whom--with whom I had never talked before. And through mutual friends we
a--we arranged a conversation. It was a telephone conversation because he was
then too sick, really, and too old to want to receive new people. And we
talked about a lot of different things and naturally about the Hiss case and he
defended himself and--as always, and said that Chambers was paranoid or briefed
by the FBI or something like that.
He was totally--he was--he was totally consistent with what he had always said
and to me totally unconvincing. The Wall Street Journal picked the--picked the
excerpt because Hiss had just died and it was a kind of memoir of what he was
like in his later years.
LAMB: What was it and why is it today that so many people ha--are--have
difficulty saying that--and--and I'm not suggesting they're right or wrong--but
have difficulty saying that Alger Hiss was innocent--or was guilty. I mean,
you--just recently with Anthony Lake there was an article about him...
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yeah.
LAMB: ...that that might be controversial in his confirmation hearings because
of his position that he wouldn't say...
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, I was actually quite surprised to see the--this matter
surface in the--in--in connection with--with Lake, because I really thought
that the vast majority of people--people, including people who originally
believed in Hiss, had come around under the pressure of a great deal of
evidence to finally believing--or accepting the fact that Hiss did, in
fact--did lie. I think you have to remember that Hiss was a--a--the very model
of an enlightened American bureaucrat. He was a Brahman really. He stood for
everything that seemed to be good and--and--and decent--the United Nations and
all kinds of other good things.
Chambers was somewhat quite tarnished. He had lied. He admitted he had lied.
He had distorted things. He was not a very--objectively speaking, he was
not--he did not seem like a very trustworthy character. And, above all, this
goes back a long way, but these things do have ripples even into the present.
I think a lot of--a lot of Democrats felt that--that--that Chambers, in
attacking Hiss, was attacking the New Deal. He was attacking the whole legacy
of the New Deal and felt, therefore, that they really had to defend Hiss. It
has to do with what we used to call anti anti-communism. A lot of--a lot of
people in this country, a lot of liberals especially, just had a very hard--had
a very difficult time accepting the notion that communism was not progressive,
because it had always been kind of moralist, considered as, quote,
"progressive." And even now it is sometimes difficult for them to let go of
LAMB: In--in the middle of all this, Whitaker Chambers talks about what he
thought about Richard Nixon--really thought about Richard Nixon...
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yeah.
LAMB: ...and you do, too. What--what was your--what's your take on the Nixon
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, he was very--he--Chambers was actually quite disappointed
by Nixon, didn't think he had--I mean--that he had the--the mettle to be--to be
a good--a good leader of the country--of the Republican Party or the--the
country. I--I thought that Nixon--I possibly thought a little better of him,
actually. I thought Nixon was brilliant. He was unquestionably paranoid, and
he was ultimately a tragic figure if tragedy means that a man with great
gifts--great intellectual gifts destroyed himself, which he did. It--he did a
lot with Kissinger in foreign policy. I think he certainly contributed to the
whole different relationship with China and ultimately with the Soviet Union.
But then he--he got himself entangled in Watergate and that was a disaster.
LAMB: How many American presidents did you have an opportunity to write about,
to meet, to be around?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I've been around m--some more than others, but I--I certainly
knew Kennedy slightly. I knew Johnson a little bit, not very well, and not
very fondly, I might say. I--I knew Mr. Ford. I knew Jimmy Carter reasonably
well. I knew Nixon, as I said. I knew Reagan...
LAMB: But the...
Mr. GRUNWALD: ...and Bush slightly.
LAMB: But the person that--that seems you knew best of the Reagans is the--Mrs.
Reagan, and Mike Wallace also figures in all of this.
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yes. I knew--I knew Mrs. Reagan really sort of one of
those--accidentally. We met a few times at unofficial occasions. And then she
wan--my children decided to give me a 60th surprise birthday party and it was a
surprise. And an even greater surprise was--came when the cake was rolled in
and the person rolling in the cake was Mrs. Reagan, who had been induced
by--by a f--by a mutual friend, Mike Wallace--Her husband, the president, was
out of the country--to come to this party. And needless to say, that cemented
our friendship--friendship is per--pur--yes, fran--I--I guess I could say a
friendship further, even though she managed to back into the birthday cake,
which was a bit of a mishap at that party.
LAMB: Did Mike Wallace have anything to do with getting you the ambassadorship
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yeah, he did, indeed. He did, indeed.
LAMB: How did that work?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, it worked this way: I was about to retire from--from Time
Incorporated at the mandatory retirement age, and everybody was sort of--not
everybody, but many of my friends were playing the game of `What's g--what's
Henry going to do next?' And I had started negotiating with a syndicate to
perhaps do a column or something like that. But Mike and another friend of
mine, the late Richard Clurman, thought, `Hey, the Embassy in Vienna is em--is
open, and why wouldn't Henry make a good ambassador to Austria?'
So Mike got on the phone and called Mrs. Reagan, and I guess Mrs. Reagan must
have dropped a few suggestions. And the next thing I knew, Howard Baker, who
was then chief of staff to Mr. Reagan, called me and suggested this to me.
And I had some hesitation about accepting it for a variety of reasons, but in
the end decided that the--the symmetry of it all, going back to the country
from tha--from which I had been expelled was simply too good to--to miss. And
also, there were some--Austria's, obviously, not a terribly important country
in world terms, but it--there were a couple of fascinating problems then going
on there which needed handling, mostly the presidency of Kurt Waldheim, that
really needed handling if one took any ca--any interest in US/Austrian
Most of the Iron Curtain was beginning to crack, and I had a hunch that I would
be able to watch that process very--very well from Vienna.
LAMB: This picture here has a bust of--of someone that you know there.
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, it's a bust of--I believe of my father.
Mr. GRUNWALD: He was, as I said earlier, a quite well-known librettist in
Austria. He wrote many of the lyrics for many, many songs which virtually--are
virtually folk songs in--in Austria to this day. He was, as I said earlier,
along with the rest of our family, driven from Austria, loved America, never
could quite--never could really make it here as a writer, although he tried,
because his English wasn't good enough; never wanted to go back to Austria, a
country about which he was--had gotten quite bitter. But when I was ambassador
there and I think partly out of genuine feeling for his work, but also, I
think, frankly, in an attempt to flatter the American ambassador, the very
decent and very excellent mayor of--then mayor of Vienna suggested that a park
be named for my father and I then suggested that I would commission a bust from
an Austrian sculptor that would be placed there. That's the story.
LAMB: You talk a lot, also, about the times when you go meet with leaders
around the world for Time magazine. Mikhail Gorbachev was here a couple of
months ago. I want you to hear just a 30-second clip of a question and answer
that has Time magazine involved in it. Let's--let's take a look at it.
(Excerpt from previous BOOKNOTES)
LAMB: You say that an interview you had with Time magazine and then with French
television were the first steps toward glasnost, openness. Can you tell us why
Mr. MIKHAIL GORBACHEV, AUTHOR, "MEMOIRS": (Through Translator) Because it was
unusual. Before me, that never happened. If they answered questions, they did
that in writing. They received questions in writing and then they answered
questions and gave them to reporters. But there were never the kind of
exchanges in which I was ready to engage.
(End of excerpt)
LAMB: Were you there for that interview?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yes, I was there for that interview and he's essentially right.
I'd been there several years before for an interview with Brezhnev who did, in
fact, give answers in writing. I managed to persuade him to answer a few
questions off the cuff, but it--they were not--they were not very relaxed or
very revealing. Gorbachev really had a conversation with us and was extremely
forthcoming. And I hate to say it, but I think he was also rather naive
because he clearly thought that he could repair, he could fix communism by
adding a few, more or less, capitalist or free market gadgets to this
not-very-well-functioning engine; and, of course, he was quite wrong about
LAMB: Did you know at the time that that was the beginning of glasnost--that
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yes. Yes. Well, I mean, glasnost had--had already been talked
about a lot, and I think we--we--we were wondering--I don't think that we
knew--but we were wondering whether he was doing this in the right order
because he--he had gl--glasnost was relatively easy to achieve. You kind of
just took off the controls--or many of the controls. I think the--the economy,
perestroika, was much more difficult, and you could get a lot of people to
argue still that perestroika should have happened first, as, in fact, it has
happened in China. But I have to say that I had no idea then, or for quite a
number of years after that, that Mr. Gorbachev would preside over the
liquidation of the Communist empire.
LAMB: Of all the world leaders you've met, which one have--have--which ones
have impressed you the most?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, Deng Xiao--Deng Xiaoping impressed me the most in--in a
way. I was very impressed by a number of--several Israeli and--and Arab
leaders. I think in the Arab world, the outstanding leader was and is King
Hussein of Jordan. I think--I think Golda Mire--was a--Meir was extraordinary,
although I think she c--she could perhaps have had peace at a--at one time much
earlier, but that's a--we'll never be sure about that. And I think in--I don't
want to get into comparative remarks about American presidents. They've all
had their pluses and minuses.
LAMB: Here's a picture of you and your family we talked about earlier, about
your first wife, Beverly.
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yes.
LAMB: Where did you meet her and what year did you get married?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I met her at NYU when we were both undergraduates. We were
married in 1952 and we were married for 28 years before she died of--of cancer.
LAMB: What year did she die?
Mr. GRUNWALD: She died in 1981.
LAMB: What was she like?
Mr. GRUNWALD: She was extremely vivacious, very optimistic and upbeat. In
that sense she formed the contrast to me, because I tend to be rather
pessimistic or at least, if not pessimistic, cautious. She was--she loved art,
she loved traveling, she loved shopping, I have to say it. She loved shopping
for antiques, especially at auctions. And she knew her mind very well. She
was rarely in doubt about anything. Again, that is--that was a contrast to me,
because I have a relatively slow time making up my mind and I weigh things back
and forth a good deal. She was, above all, I think, good. I know that--that
sounds like a strange word, but my sister always said that about her. I rarely
heard her say anything nasty about other people. She disliked other people,
and she disliked them very quickly. She might say, `Well, I just don't like
this fellow,' but she wasn't nasty about it.
LAMB: And w--she died when you were 60?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Before--before I was 60, yeah. I was--she was--actually, I was
58 and she was 57.
LAMB: What impact did it have on your life when she died?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, the first impact was dreadful. It was--it was extremely
depressing and I felt totally--totally sort of cut off from everything that had
been going on before. On the other hand, there were my children who were a
great--a great comfort, although suffering themselves having lost her. There
was my work, which was extremely important. And then after about a year or so,
I learned, once again, to be a bachelor in New York, which, frankly, isn't all
bad. And--but it got a little boring and I felt that I really would like to
get married again and I was very fortunate then in meeting my present wife.
LAMB: We have a picture in the book of Louise. Where'd you meet her?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I met her at a party in New York.
LAMB: How long did you date?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, we dated for, I guess, about two or three years. That,
again, comes back to the--to the notion that I have a slow ti--it takes me
awhile to--to make up my mind.
LAMB: And did--what year did you marry?
Mr. GRUNWALD: We married--it'll be 10 years in May, May 1 of this year, of
this coming--of this year and...
LAMB: And s--she went with you to Austria as an--when you were there as an
Mr. GRUNWALD: That's correct.
LAMB: Pretend for a moment...
Mr. GRUNWALD: And she was a very good ambassador, I might add.
LAMB: Pretend for a moment that I'm about to get an ambassadorship somewhere
and I come to you and say, `Mr. Grunwald, tell me what to expect from being an
ambassador, a political appointee.' What would you tell people?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, first I will tell you that you can do--that you can do it
in two ways. You can do it strictly for fun, go to a lot of parties and let
the--much of the work be done by your DCM, the deputy chief of mission, or you
can take it seriously and--and really work at it. Working at it means
different things. Working at it means getting along with the State Department
bureaucracy, which is excruciatingly slow and does not give answers to
questions or to a request for guidance very quickly. Working at it means
having a really good relationship with your staff--obviously, that would be
true of any executive--and caring--caring about what they do and, I would say,
especially the--especially the people--in my case the Austrians, who were
working for the American Embassy and who did wonderful work, and to whom
attention must be paid.
Beyond that, I have to say that you are a public relations man. You are--part
of the work that I did was, of course, reporting, which was close to what I'd
done before, but a lot of it was special pleading. It was trying to put
American policies in--in--in their best light without--without lying but--but
giving them the best possible interpretation and putting a good face on
your--on your Embassy and on your country. That is the great difference
between--between diplomacy and journalism.
LAMB: When you went there, Kurt Waldheim was the president of the country.
What was your relationship to him?
Mr. GRUNWALD: My relationship to him was minimal. As you know, or as
many--many viewers will still remember, he was put on something called the
American watch list. It was a list of people who were not supposed to be
admitted to the United States because of past Nazi contacts. This created a
tremendous upset in Austria because, after all, he was their democratically
elected president, and many Austrians felt that he hadn't done anything that
other people hadn't done. He was part of the German army in the--in the
Balkans, but he had lied about it. And our law, the watch list law, was very
loosely drawn. He--he clearly fell into that category, so what I had to do was
to be correct with him. I had to see him only on official occasions,
diplomatic receptions and so on and otherwise avoid personal contact, which was
very difficult, because he wanted personal contact. He would often send
emissaries to me suggesting perhaps a little dinner to talk about the world
situation and so on. All that I had to resist while remaining polite an--and
while persuading the Austrians that we had nothing against Austria but that it
was a--purely a matter of Mr. Waldheim's past. So it was a kind of a
balancing act, which to tell you the absolute truth, I found quite interesting.
LAMB: How did you remember quotes and things 40, 50 years ago?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, partly because I found memory is a very--is a very odd
thing. I mean, there are some things I had totally forgotten and other things,
somehow or other, for no reason, that I can figure out do stick in one's mind.
But beyond that, I'm one of those people who have a very hard time throwing
away anything. I kept letters that I had written. I kept letters that had
been written to me. I kept memoranda. I made many notes on various occasions.
Certainly, I took a lot of notes when I traveled, when I interviewed people. I
also took notes when I met interesting people, I thought--that I thought were
interesting in New York. And together with some stories that I had written and
so on, all this together enabled me to recreate quite a lot of the past,
LAMB: You have an afterword that starts out like this at the end of the book:
`It was a rough re-entry. Shock began on the way to Manhattan from the airport
with the sight of the filthy, garbage-strewn embankments along the highway.
The image stayed with me like a splinter in the eye. It was a reminder that
New York, for all its riches, was unable to meet some of its most basic needs.
As Louise and I settled back into the city, our excitement at being home was
dimmed by the crumbling streets, the fear of crime, the homeless sleeping on
the sidewalks. TV news projected nightmares, and not only in New York; drugs
everywhere, outbursts of racial hate, the almost surreal reports of small
children being killed by stray bullets on their front stoop.' It goes on from
there. This is your re-entry from Austria.
Mr. GRUNWALD: Yes.
LAMB: Why did--why did you finish the book like this?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, if I might quarrel with you slightly, I didn't really
finish the book that way. I--I swing back to a somewhat more optimistic tone
and prediction toward the end of this--of this afterword. But the fact is that
what I've described there is exactly what happened. I had been in Europe for
three years. Europe, in many ways, is a--is a safer--somewhat safer, somewhat
more serene place than--than certainly New York City--not universally so. And
at the same time, I felt myself more American while serving in Europe than at
any other time, because you miss your country. You feel terribly
hurt--literally hurt, at least I did, when I read bad things about my country,
when I read--when I was aware of these conditions. And coming back and seeing
this, all of a sudden, you have a very hard time assimilating this--this
reality--and it is a reality or was a reality at that time--with what I
basically believe this country to be, which is that it is a great and good
country. So the contrast between this experience and my basic belief in
America and my knowledge of the--the good things in America was painful.
LAMB: You also write in that afterword, `After a lifetime in journalism
observing the endless wars, mass murders, brutalities and the infinitely varied
forms of deceit, I find it impossible not to believe in the existence of evil.'
How much evil?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I don't think that it's possible to quantify evil. I mean, evil
can range from the Holocaust, which is beyond measuring, to very--very
more--very much more minor things. But the point is that the world makes no
sense, life makes no sense unless you accept the fact that there is such a
thing as evil and that it has to be fought and resisted and that it is not
caused entirely by or even mostly by environment or a bad upbringing or even,
you know, other forms of evil like child abuse and so on. There is something
in human nature that is irreducibly evil and has to be argued with, controlled
….I mean, cajoled. It has to be controlled.
LAMB: Wh--what do you think of the current situation in the United States? I
mean, you look--I mean, look in the world. There's--there's not a major war
going on and--and how are we handling all of this?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I--I find that the--the--the--I would think that the present
situation in the United States is somewhat more hopeful than this particular
passage that you read--that you read from my book would indicate. I think not
only has New York somewhat improved, but many other things have, too. What
worries me about the United States is two things above all others. One is the
state of our education. When I came to this country a--as an immigrant, I was
delighted by an American high school, by the freedom that I had there, by the
freedom to think for myself, to work for myself, so on, which was totally
different from the rote-learning discipline of a--of my European school. But
now we have gone, as we often do, much too far with a good thing, and I think
that education now has become increasingly empty of real education, of real
learning. A lot of this, I'm afraid, has to do with the legacy, distorted a
lot, of John Dewey, who believed in learning for--for life, living, not for
academic--not so much f--primarily for academic achievement. We've--we've
taken that up all beyond any reason.
The other thing is tribalism. The other thing is the fact that so many ethnic
groups, ra--racist groups, religious groups, are most of all interested in
their, quote, "rights"--their own rights, their community rights, not
necessarily their rights as individuals, but the rights as a member of a
community, which tends to draw attention away from--an effort away from what is
good for the country as a whole. And we must, if not eliminate tribalism,
which is probably impossible, but at least soften it and find ways of--of
various tribes, as I call them, to live together more--more productively and
LAMB: On the last page you say, `Ultimately, the issue is not that the United
States harbors racism, extremism and other universal disorders. It is, rather,
how hard and how persistently we try to overcome them. I believe we try harder
than any other people.' What evidence do you have of that?
Mr. GRUNWALD: I don't think I have--I have evidence that I can put in
scientific terms. My evidence is simply having traveled, having observed a
great many other countries--and I find that in almost all other countries that
I've ever been to, whether in Europe or in Asia, the traditional forms of, `You
know your place. Your father did this and, therefore, you will do this, too,'
or `You are not educated in (foreign language spoken); therefore, you're not
going to become a minister.' These restrictions, these inflexibilities are
enormously strong, still, in--in most other countries, and they are not here.
This country, for all its faults, which are considerable--for--for all its
faults, has more flexibility. It is easier to move in this country from job to
job, from--from social level to social level, than anything that I've ever
LAMB: Is there any other country that tries even close to as hard as we try,
according to you?
Mr. GRUNWALD: Well, I think in fairness, the socialist countries--the social
democratic countries of Europe and northern Europe have tried very hard. They
have tried very hard to create prosperity and equality and so forth, except
that in the end, however well-intentioned these attempts were, they didn't
work. They were--they were too expensive. They--mor--all of them, almost,
more or less, went broke, and they tried, in my--in my view, in somewhat the
LAMB: Our guest has been Henry Grunwald, and this is what the book looks like.
It's called "One Man's America." We thank you.
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