tv Ian Toll Twilight of the Gods CSPAN January 15, 2021 1:22am-2:27am EST
>> will come to the national world war ii museum presentation webinar i am jeremy collins if you're watching on zoom here are housekeeping remarks if you are an attendee tonight that means you do not have video or audio privileges for you can interact with the moderator and guest writing question in the q&a box. it was my pleasure to pass this over to rob 15 oh. >> here are the senior historian the national world war ii museum and have a very special guest with us tonight a friend of the museum my
friend a wonderful writer and author, welcome. >> one of those people who doesn't really need an introduction he will know what that means he is an extremely accomplished scholar and writer and the founding of the u.s. navy as well as a trilogy called the pacific war the third which has just been called twilight of the gods 1944, 1945 the fabulous elliott morrison award and the call the military writers award given by the u.s. constitution museum if there any more awards up there i fully expect you to see one. so you thank you for spending time with us.
>> it is my pleasure and my honor. >> i am struck by the book and it is a big story war on the western pacific the biggest naval battle with valor and heroism. but with this book in an interesting way of politics and it was nicely done especially with douglas macarthur. and i'll even expand on my question. you have to know so why open with a survey of us political? >> that there would be led in the air you only have to wait until the third.
it is and unconventional way and i had a little bit of latitude in the case because of the trilogy people reading it already read the first two so they had already committed to read it or not. so basically my observation was looking at the pacific war that there was a lot of literature about fdr and macarthur i like to say there was a pickup truck of fdr biographies and i think that's an exaggeration of fdr biographies and i think that's an exaggeration have macarthur biographies two of the most fascinating figures in 20th century history and love them for obvious reasons so the
story of the pacific command which took place in wahoo and hawaii in 1944, that story has been told over and over again because of how frequently new biographies are coming out with fdr and macarthur and featured incident because it was a dramatic meeting that took place the first time they met in seven years until the most colorful figures of that period of american history. so for that reason and it started during the war so we tend to look at that meeting to the present of american and politics and fdr had announced to nobody surprise he would run for the unprecedented fourth term of office as president and visited the dnc on his way to the west coast.
so the way the country saw the trip as a campaign stop and a publicity event. it was much more than that and fdr was doing something that we wouldn't have expected any commander-in-chief to do to visit the pacific theater. the only time he did it so that visit told them they had not been forgotten. so with that long account so it's important to unite what had become the two separate strands in literature and the meeting between macarthur and fdr.
and with this military planning conference and also admiral only he almost always forgotten but this is the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. >> and the greatest memoirs as well. >> so before we move away from the politics talk about macarthur and how bad do you want to get to the oval office in 1944? >> and then to allow those supporters and the answer and
supreme command and then with the northern island one - - the island so these were his goals maybe this which is simply a way to support pressure saying that the war changed him and in the presidency he would be joshing with the reporters were know the birthdays and the children were having both days. >> i will at the outset of the current president's administration
of the "washington post" it's about fdr's relationship with the press and essentially to charm tactics that's an accurate depiction of how they do with the press of the first term in office. and essentially he had it with the press. and then and that was pretty cantankerous and action on the campaign trail attacking the press so that was an important part of the perspective and to develop a publicity and policies and how the army and navy and is different approaches. and this was a way to introduce the larger dimension of what was happening
and the japanese fleet had been annihilated. so essentially the japanese were finished and with any hopes they had of winning the war so the last stage of the border is how do you force the japanese to capitulate would be unconditional surrender it would be the right policy to say would occupy or disarm japan and of course the she was far away from that so the question became how do you force them to surrender really the philippines of the centerpiece many said he wanted to live by even more than the war and many said he wanted to live by even more than the war and many internal planners saw a major blow for china the last stage of the campaign wanting a foothold for the b-29 and the potential to draw upon that manpower in the invasion of japan with the
destruction of the japanese armies on the mainland. that pointed to 1944 it's fair to say we would take one of those two elements first or the philippines. that was the immediate decision in 1944 so that was the question can we force the japanese to surrender? and that played very much and what they were confronting as well. >> let me try to pin you down to the f. >> i think our viewers know it is a choice so how can the pacific war with the asia-pacific war be different
in might that have led to a different result of the chinese civil war? and then to make persuasive arguments are not an expert of the chinese civil war and now mao had taken control of china and the significance of that event for world history including today is just incalculable and the chief of naval operation during the second world war and looking back if he had done what i had wanted to do this may have led to a different result and of course that word have diverted the course of history. >> but already the change
changes the course of her own historical timeline across the board so that's one of the reasons the second world war is so unique and fascinating and it really has shaped the post world war in asia and europe and the choice is being made by the generals and admirals how to prosecute the war implications we are living with today. >> i will describe your book that is an expert but is my bread and butter mrs. as good as it gets in much of what you deal with it is necessary but
the personalities of us commanders. >> and talk about carrier warfare and read it to the audience. >> there are so many japanese planes we will swap punches i know all about losses i'm stronger than they are no one can stop me. >> how does that stand up today with the pacific war in 19441945? >> there is an accurate statement of those task forces by 1944 so the first and these have battles between small carrier task forces and those
in which a hit-and-run trying to attack with a complete surprise in the recovery will planes and with the counterattack and in 1944 the size of the carrier task force in the pacific, the task force 58 when halsey had it, talking about 12 or 16 aircraft carriers but these are fleet carriers and of the semi autonomous task groups
they are watching 101,200 planes in a single integrated strike dissenting on the japanese airbase in the pacific like the very honest and they are just wiping the best guys clean of the japanese defending fighters. with the destroying those on the ground so the carriers had gotten powerful by this stage that the hit and run approach was no longer necessary. is simply to bring your carrier task force and essentially just destroy or overpower it and confidently fight off any counterstrike so
and he has the style of the major company today is a cool character and then really didn't believe in the blood and thunder style of command so he's often contrasted to halsey for that reason. so that is a series of accidents accidentally thrust into the battle of midway. and then called to shore duty so they became very close and that i trust this guy to make the same decision if i was commanding the scene during the second world war. so he takes the fleet to see. but by 1944 to have
overwhelming naval superiority. let's not take any unnecessary chances to allow the japanese to score a lucky victory against us. let's play but the numbers. i think that was the correct approach that has been the judgment historians which is the best of the wartime fleet commanders. >> you referenced halsey follow the action of course how would you rate him? and his ability as the operational commander to say something about the seamanship?
not one but two horrible tycoons so as operational commander with the policy issues? >> calls he made the series of significant errors in the two tycoons have often been mentioned with the influential subordinates with the test group commanders and those admirals serving under them were harshly critical of those major decisions and it was one of the most infamous commanders and naval history which could have led to disaster but it really treated at the critical moment. so the list of indictments against halsey simply in terms
of the management of the fleet is pretty long and damning and more broadly looking at halsey he was the senior task force commander and that pacific and to be a commander at see what was left of the capability in the first months of the war. there was a period that our forces had not been ready for war and quickly had to get up to speed and learn to fight by fighting and halsey is the leader in the early months of
the war. and gets a lot of credit for that. there is a colorful style bread and thunder style that was halsey style with her foot forward approach to publicity to talk to the forces under his command and all sorts of talking to the american people and is often compared to general patton and europe and that in the middle years of the war to be sure bound and so he loses touch with the day-to-day job of running the fleet and then brought back to take over the fleet in 1944 it's a totally different animal he is commanding. he is a really kept up bringing his own real staff officers to the south pacific headquarters for two years with him.
so essentially you had a large organization coming to take over the fifth fleet which became the third fleet and they weren't really ready to do that. so it was a mistake you can't attribute off the chain of command maybe that wasn't a good choice to bring halsey back and put them in that role in 1944. >> you a beautiful about where the most complex history there is so much going on to require to make up the account that the reader can follow any do that marvelously so virtually the charge on the japanese are the chances of winning in any real sense of battle?
>> by that time the japanese desperate and losing the war on offense and they realize that their problem is the americans to the philippines and would be cut off from the fuel supply and primarily because they want to own source of oil and those at that point were indonesia and that was the east indies so they went and took them in the first months of the war but then i had to bring the oil back to japan in the stinkers which were vulnerable. so they saw that critical artery with the japanese empire was about to be cut and
then they might not even be to get into position again or could be immobilized for lack of fuel. so the decision to throw the entire remaining fleet against us spun from the awareness that they had that this might be their only chance to fight a naval battle at all. and the driving motive was just to be sure they put up a fight and didn't and the war were to be destroyed by carrier planes. had to go out with a bang rather than a whimper. and the japanese, given the significant disadvantages came up with a very good plan to were the main striking force to allow two japanese surface fleets and he fairly nearly
succeeded in doing that and it was a series of deceptions and that commander by admiral halsey. >> and by military establishment in terms of numbers and power by 1845 and still manages to come close to have a major amphibious landing in that part of the war. >> in the military philosopher you never quite sure what's going to happen that's a classic example.
>> going to the japanese home island. >> late 1944 with a clear thinking japanese that the war had been lost over and over was no real position in japan code defend a position the united states cannot take. and with those principal concrete that the matter anytime the army air force wishes and that there is almost no redundancy what cap the japanese people going through this incredible level of devastation? >> and an interesting book
would be to take the nazi germany propaganda techniques in contrast with what the japanese did. and then attempted to had total control of what they are public knows about what is happening outside in the world beyond. and as thoroughly as it has done in japan. and then to have total control over the japanese media. and with our women struggle of what has been happening but in the early stage of the world with b-29s, and that they are
more or less humans are rated starvation and famine was a real danger. is the major regions of japan but just how dire things were and then to say this is a. and then we tried to leave into these books the appreciation of what life was like for the japanese man or woman on the street. through the nose and reports are and then how thoroughly deceived they were.
>> and fighting in the philippines in great detail here i came away with the fighting in the philippines was horrible so you described manila as a worth pathology is the military culture and ideology. >> what do you mean by that? >> the japanese army in particular inculcated this idea that you can never surrender under any circumstances. you have to fight to the death. and then to be captured generally i don't think this has been well understood but it is a radical idea and the japanese military culture. coming down through the samurai tradition in that era
with that warfare in japan and if he had done his duty and it turned against him he could lay down his arms and surrender with his honor intact. so is not done traditionally in japanese culture. so after the war in 19 oh five and this makes a formidable army. may be the single best example if you tell and army 20 euros for employees that they will die no matter what were they have to fight to the death if
necessary then that puts pressure on them and the results are pretty severe. so this is an outgrowth with the distortion of the traditions and cultures were. one of the darkest chapters is one of the darkest wires and history. >> regularly claiming the horrible things he was telling them to do with traditions dating back 600 years and the strikes me roughly similar revenue radicalization of warfare. for the 13 hundreds. >> there is another issue with another book on this theory and that you read about it is
it possible to fathom? by which i mean and then going through the mind with that her role as absorption. >> it helps that so many left diaries and other writings and letters and many have been published there's a literary genre and japan the last writings of the comic is the on - , khasi they keep selling so they keep coming out. and then give lives and battle. and the suicide attacks the