The Berkshires in the Summer 7-18-10

The Berkshires in the Summer


Richard J. Garfunkel


This past Friday, we left right on schedule for the Berkshires with our Lincoln Town Car. The Jaguar was in the car hospital at EurroMecchanica, and it was just as well. We would need a lot of room for all our gear, food and, once we got to the Berkshires, our children and our daughters’ good friend. It was a smooth uneventful drive up the 100 miles to the end of the Taconic Parkway and into Massachusetts. The next leg of the trip brought us to the Mass Pike (I-90) and then to Routes 20 and 7 north. On the way we stopped to stroll through the remarkable 100 year old Cranwell Resort, Spa and Golf Course in Lenox. It is a remarkable structure that is adjoined by various cottages and a large mansion.


After that short stop we were back on the road and came upon the entrance to the Mount Greylock State Park, which encompasses Massachusetts’ first forest preserve and its 1898 Massachusetts Veteran’s Memorial. It’s about an 8 mile winding drive to its summit which at 3491 feet is the highest point in the state and where the 93 foot Memorial was constructed in 1932. Most of the roads, the Bascom Lodge which sits nearby, and the ski shelters were built under the auspices of the New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930’s.


Geographically, Mount Greylock forms an 11-mile long by 4.5-mile wide island-like range between the Hoosac Range to the east, the Green Mountains to the north, the Berkshires to the south and east, and the Taconic Mountains to the west with which it is geologically associated; all ranges are associated with the Appalachian mountain chain. On average, Mount Greylock rises 2,000 feet above surrounding river valleys and 1,000 feet above the Berkshire and Taconic Mountains. From the summit, views of up to 70–100 miles are possible into five different states: Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire.The beacon on the top of the memorial tower can be seen from as far as 70 miles.


After our drive up onto the summit, we parked, walked into the monument and later gazed down into the valley below which overlooks Adams, MA. After our visit to the facilities at the Bascom Lodge, we headed back to Route 7 north and our trip up and through the northern edge of Pittsfield to Guido’s Market, which is located across the street from The Dakota, a landmark log cabin restaurant. Once we paid for our provisions, we made our way up the last leg of our journey to the Country Inn at Jiminy Peak. Our lodge was centrally air-conditioned, quite roomy with three bedrooms, two baths, five televisions and an outdoor deck.





Eventually our son Jon arrived from Boston, we went to dinner at John Harvard’s which is the local restaurant, located in the main building, and we settled in for the evening. The next morning, after breakfast, Jon and I got in three sets of tennis, we all went back to our lodge, showered and dressed. We headed south on Route 7 to Pittsfield to Zucchini’s Restaurant to meet Dana and her friend Craig, who were driving west from Boston for lunch. We all had a great meal, which included small pizzas, fried zucchini, salads and wraps.


After our meal we headed over to Pontoosuc Lake where we strolled around, observed the boaters, in their kayaks, sail boats, and small motor craft, along with the swimmers who were enjoying the beautiful clear waters. We snapped some pictures, and then made our way back to the Country Inn. Once everyone was settled in, we changed for tennis, drove to courts, we all got in lot of hitting, and after terrific sweat in the 85 degree sun we changed and made our way to the hot tub. After we were all worn out from tennis, the sun and the hot water, we made our way back to the lodge, watched some baseball, parts of the 3rd round of the British Open, and rested a bit. For dinner we had planned a BBQ and during the week I had made my way down to Fairway, a wonderful new supermarket on Boston Road in Pelham, NY. So we were well-prepared with a 2lb boneless sirloin steak among other goodies. 


After dinner, we decided to drive down to Pittsfield for some ice cream. There’s a very popular soft-ice cream “joint” right off Route 7 and we were able to choose some exotic flavors and mixtures, fight off the mosquitoes, and make our way back before it got too dark, and the lightning we were watching turned into an ugly weather event. Eventually, late into the evening, when all the lights were out, the rains did come and it came with a vengeance.


The next day brought beautiful clear weather. After an early breakfast, we got to the courts, played some more tennis, headed to the hot tub and the pool, and made our way back for a BBQed lunch on our deck. Once we were quite satiated, we packed up, straightened out our accommodations and headed south to Lenox and Tanglewood. We built in enough time, left in our three cars, arrived around 2 PM and all reconnoitered on their great lawn, not far from the enclosed amphitheater.


There were thousands of other music lovers there, and most had brought picnic lunch goodies, but we only needed our beach chairs and liquid refreshment. It was sunny, but we were well-prepared with sun screen and before long the music started with Keith Lockhart conducting. The program included renditions of Liberty Fanfare, This is My Country, Rodeo, and America the Beautiful.  The highlight of the afternoon was a musical tribute to the Kennedy Brothers, entitled The Dream Lives On, which was composed for the 125th anniversary of the Boston Pops Orchestra and narrated by Alec Baldwin. After the intermission, the finale featured Arlo Guthrie and his music. The program was over by 4:30 PM, we picked up our chairs, made our way to the East lot, found our cars, escaped quickly, and we all left for home. It was a busy three days, but the planning was flawless, the timing precise, the food was great, the weather cooperated, and every one got home safe and sound.

Culture is Alive and Well in Pelham 8-2-10

Culture is Alive and Well in Pelham

August 2, 2010


Last night on 5th Avenue in Pelham, NY, at the town’s gazebo, on their village green, a large enthusiastic crowd of all ages, were entertained by the incomparable Phil Kiame and his Philip James Band. Phil, who plays the drums, while he conducts, was ably assisted by his son Phil Jr., whose day job is touring with US Army Band, assembled a great collection of jazz and big band musicians, along with some lovely young songstresses. Along with others, the O’Leary sisters from Briarcliff Manor and the Nunziata twins; Will and Anthony, entertained the assembled throng, while we watched some improvised dance routines by some very young and charming girls.


Night and Day (Cole Porter), Honeysuckle Rose, (Thomas “Fats” Waller), Summertime, (The Gershwins) Blue Skies, (Irving Berlin), I will Survive (Gloria Gaynor) along with Get Your Kicks on Route 66, (Bobby Troup) were some of the featured songs along with some marvelous jazz riffs.


After 90 minutes of marvelous music that echoed into the cool night air, Linda and I folded our chairs, congratulated Phil and his son, and with the other enthusiasts, we dispersed to our car. It is always a treat to watch accomplished artists playing selections from the “Great American Songbook.”

Kykuit, Springwood, and the Clinton Wedding 7-31-10

Kykuit, Springwood, and the Clinton Wedding in Rhinebeck


Richard J. Garfunkel


This Saturday we spent the afternoon with Marc Soucy and Nancy Jenkinson from Boston. They were down in Westchester on a serendipitous trip to see some of the sights. Linda had suggested Kykuit, the Westchester home of the Rockefeller Clan which is situated right on Route 9 in the Village of Sleepy Hollow, which previously had been known as North Tarrytown. Kykuit was built by John D. Rockefeller in 1902, and has been the home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Kykuit means “high point” in Dutch and has breathtaking views of the Hudson River. Kykuit is home to beautiful furniture, paintings and sculptures. The grounds contain wonderful terraces, fountains, gardens, and a large collection of 20th century sculpture. Kykuit also has a large collection of antique cars and horse drawn vehicles.


Meanwhile, Sleepy Hollow is a village in the Town of Mount Pleasant, which originally was named North Tarrytown which was a product of the merger of the neighborhoods of  Beekmantown and Sleepy Hollow in the 19th Century. It is located on the eastern bank of the Hudson River, about 30 miles north of midtown Manhattan  and just north of Tarrytown, which is the Town of Greenburgh. The village decided to change its name in 1996 when residents voted to have it changed to honor the Washington Irving story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.


After our usual tennis games in Armonk, our trip back to our home in Watch Hill, our showers and change of clothes, we headed over to Kikuyu to meet the Marc and Nancy and led them (in their car) to the Hyde Park, and Springwood, the ancestral home of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The trip usually takes one hour and the Taconic Parkway was smooth sailing until the exit for Route 55 West. After reaching Poughkeepsie, it’s only another four miles up Route 9 to Hyde Park and the Roosevelt homestead and library.


We toured the Henry A. Wallace Center, the Rose Garden and the graves of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, walked around the mansion, named Springwood, and looked down the valley towards the Hudson, which was blocked from view because of the trees near the banks of the river.

The estate, which also comprised about one square mile of land at the time, was bought in this condition by Franklin D. Roosevelt's father, James Roosevelt, in 1866 for a price of $40,000. At this time, a stable and a horse track had been built already, which was important to James Roosevelt since he took a great interest in horse breeding. From right after the purchase until his death 34 years later, James Roosevelt had many improvements of the house carried out. He enlarged the servants' wing of the building and added two rooms. He also had a spacious carriage house built in the vicinity.

In 1915, Franklin D. Roosevelt together with his mother Sara undertook a final major enlargement and remodeling of the home. Franklin D. Roosevelt contributed many ideas for the new design, but since the building work was paid for by his mother Sara, she had to find compromises which also took the financial aspect into account. She commissioned the design work the firm of Hoppin and Koen from New York City. The size of the house was more than doubled by adding two large fieldstone wings (designed by Franklin D. Roosevelt), a tower, and a third story with a flat roof. The clapboard exterior of the house was replaced with stucco and most of the porch was replaced with a fieldstone terrace with a balustrade and a small columned portico around the entrance. These alterations gave the exterior of the house the look of a mansion in Colonial Revival Style. The interior retained much of the layout of the old family home and was designed primarily with housing Franklin D. Roosevelt's growing collections of books, paintings, stamps, and coins. The remodeling work was finished within one year in 1916. Franklin Roosevelt also changed the appearance of the surrounding land by extensive planting of trees. Between 1911, when the large scale planting started and Roosevelt's death in 1945, more than 400,000 trees were planted on the estate.
After eating lunch at the Nesbitt Café, which was ironically named after the White House’s director of “cuisine,” Henrietta Nesbitt, whose food never really agreed with the President, we headed over to the FDR Library.
By the way, Henrietta and her husband, Henry F. Nesbitt, had been neighbors of the Roosevelts in Hyde Park, New York. Eleanor Roosevelt and Nesbitt met through the formation of a local chapter of the League of Women Voters. Mrs. Roosevelt, heavily involved in her husband’s campaign for governor of New York, asked Nesbitt to make baked goods for the Roosevelt’s growing social functions at Hyde Park. When Franklin Roosevelt was elected to the White House in 1932, Mrs. Roosevelt asked both Nesbitts to work for them in the White House. Henry Nesbitt tracked the household accounts as chief steward. Two sets of books had to be kept as the government only paid for state dinners and receptions; all other meals were charged to the Roosevelts. After Henry Nesbitt’s death in 1938, Mrs. Nesbitt took over these duties with the help of an assistant.

Mrs. Nesbitt proved to be an indefatigable worker and her position involved not only care of the house, but oversight of the servants, meal planning, and the purchase of supplies from her command post on the ground floor of the historic residence. The Roosevelts were socially active and entertained over 10,000 persons during the 1937 season at the White House.
Nesbitt became a minor celebrity through her position and gave newspaper interviews about her menus. She also appeared on a radio program with other White House staffers to discuss the running of the presidential mansion. Her plain home-style meals were never widely appreciated at the White House and both President Roosevelt and visitors complained about the quality and variety of foods that were served. A 1937 New York Times article stated “any man might rebel against being served salt fish for luncheon four days in a row.” Roosevelt had a food rebellion the prior week and said that the “kitchen had better not send him any more liver for a while and he is also getting pretty tired of string beans.”  
After our lunch we headed over to the FDR Library and Museum which was conceived and built under President Roosevelt's direction during 1939-40 on 16 acres of land in Hyde Park, New York, donated by the President and his mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt. The library resulted from the President's decision that a separate facility was needed to house the vast quantity of historical papers, books, and memorabilia he had accumulated during a lifetime of public service and private. Prior to Roosevelt's Presidency, the final disposition of Presidential papers was left to chance. Although a valued part of the nation's heritage, the papers of chief executives were private property which they took with them upon leaving office. Some were sold or destroyed and thus either scattered or los t to the nation forever. Others remained with families, but inaccessible to scholars for long periods of time. The fortunate collections found their way into the Library of Congress and private repositories.
After we toured the museum portion of the library, which is in the midst of not only putting together an new exhibit on the 75th anniversary of the passing of the Social Security Act in 1935, but a long-awaited renovation, we all decided to head north to Rhinebeck and the site of the Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding.
Rhinebeck, the home of a bit over 2000 residents, is only 10 miles north on Route 9. It is a wonderful, small town, artsy community, which is the home of the Beekman Arms Hotel. The village originally started as a European settlement which dated to 1686, when a group of Dutch crossed the river from Kingston and bought 2,200 acres of land from the local Iroquois tribes. Later, Henry Beekman obtained a patent for the land, and saw a need for development to begin. He brought into the area Casper Landsman, a miller, and William Traphagen, a builder. In 1703 the New York colonial assembly approved money for the construction of the King's Highway, later known as the Albany Post Road and today most of Route 9. The oldest building in the village is the Beekman Arms, built in 1700 and is reported to be the oldest inn in America.
The oldest house in the village is the Benner House, built in 1739.Rhinebeck was finally incorporated in 1834, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, himself a native of nearby Hyde Park would play a role in the town's history during the later years of the Great Depression when he oversaw the design process for the new post office. He had long promoted Dutch-style fieldstone as a material for public buildings in the area, and told the architects to use Henry Beekman's house (burned in a 1910 fire) as their model and some of its remaining stones for the post office. He spoke at the dedication ceremony and helped lay the cornerstone.
It wasn’t easy finding a parking place in Rhinebeck, but eventually we found a open space in one of the municipal lots off Market Street, We strolled around, stopped into some of the shops, talked to the storekeepers, who were quite excited about the Clinton-Mezvinsky Wedding. This wedding put Rhinebeck on the map, and thousands of visitors in the streets, eating at their restaurants, and buying local trinkets. We even stopped by at Gigi’s Trattoria, which hosted former President Clinton the day before. When it was heard that the president was having lunch there, over 1000 folks had gathered in front of the restaurant. When he finally appeared, a great roar of welcome came from the group of admirers and the president signed autographs and greeted all he could.
By the time we left, there were still hundreds of locals, tourists, reporters (Rehema Ellis of NBC was strolling around when I met her) and media hanging around the Beekman Arms and the adjoining area. Everyone was eager to see a celebrity or two. But, all who were invited were already ensconced at the Astor Estate and probably sitting down to dinner.
It was a long day, which started with tennis up in Armonk, so by 6:00 pm we decided to go to dinner back in Hyde Park, at the art-deco Eveready Diner. Which has been featured on the “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” show: .We all had a great meal. I can only remember that I had a cup of matzo ball soup and a strip steak, but every one was quite happy and satiated. It was now close to 8:00 pm and we headed back to Tarrytown, and our friends made their way down to the Mid-Hudson Rover Bridge and their accommodations in Newburgh. By 9:00 pm we were back in Tarrytown, and ready for a well-deserved rest.


Johnny's and Mount Vernon Memories 7-29-10

Johnny’s and Mount Vernon Memories

Richard J. Garfunkel

July 29, 2010


It was a hot sunny day this past Wednesday. Every Wednesday is a bit special because I broadcast my show, The Advocates from the WVOX studios in New Rochelle. On this day, I had, as my guest, Amy Bach, the award-winning author of Ordinary Injustice, a powerful expose of the fouled up nature of our legal-jurisprudence system. She had been on my show seven months ago, but it was the right time to re-visit with her and her book. Last December, I had as my guest panelist my good buddy and tennis rival Michael Shapiro, a top-notch criminal defense lawyer, out of City College and NYU School of Law, who now hangs his shingle with the prestigious law firm, Carter, Ledyard, & Milburn, where the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt first practiced law. Michael originally started out as a prosecutor in NYC DA Robert Morgenthau’s office and cut his teeth on nursing home abuse and Bernard Barker.


This time around, my guest panelist was my old Mount Vernon buddy, Guy Fairstein, who after Williams College and the University of Virginia Law School, spent forty years in high end civil litigation. Now he does volunteer (pro bono) work for Legal Services of the Hudson Valley. Guy and I used to traipse the public links of Westchester back in the early 1960’s, and he grew up on a leafy street off Devonia Avenue, on the other end of our home town.


As usual, the show commenced at 12:07 PM and the next 53 minutes flew by in its typical fashion. Amy Bach fulfilled her role, Guy Fairstein asked her the right questions and the show passed into the broadcasting past. Each show takes a bit of planning and preparation, along with the cooperation of all who join me in the broadcast, but it ends as suddenly as it begins, and once it is over, all of us go right back to the normality of life.
Guy and I headed out into the bright sunlight of a late July hot afternoon. We had decided to make a pilgrimage to Johnny’s, the famous pizzeria on West Lincoln Avenue in Mount Vernon. We drove down Fifth Avenue to North Avenue in New Rochelle, made a left turn and a right at Lincoln Avenue and headed into Mount Vernon. We reached Johnny’s, found a space nearby to park, made our way to a table on the wall, which like all the others is festooned with NY Yankee memorabilia, sat down and ordered  a large half-sausage and half plain pie. What can I say? Johnny’s always makes the best pizza and we were not disappointed. Its thin crust is unique and the taste is great. One thing for sure is that Johnny’s pizza is never filling and always gastronomically rewarding.
Before we headed back up to White Plains, where Guy lives, we took a nostalgic tour around Mount Vernon. There are still some beautiful neighborhoods around what was once called the “City of Homes.”  We made our way down Gramatan Avenue towards Bronxville and turned right up Edgewood into the hills of Douglas and circled around back to Gramatan and then we made our way over to Locust Lane and Hunt Woods Park. I hadn’t been around there in a number of years. It was great fun talking about all the ghosts, from our time, who are all that is left in those old homes. Many of those houses were built in the 1920s and they still look quite well put together today. So we finally had worn ourselves out. Who knows when we’ll be able to do this again? As Thomas Wolfe wrote, in his novel, You Can’t Go Home Again, and he wasn’t far off the mark in its meaning.

Henry Littlefield and John Irving 7-11-10

Henry Littlefield and John Irving

July 11, 2010

Richard J. Garfunkel



Henry Littlefield died 10 years ago, and in a sense it was just like yesterday. Today I was looking over author John Irving’s memoir “Trying to Save Piggy Sneed,” to look at the description of Henry on page 118.


I was teaching at Mount Holyoke  – an all women’s college in South Hadley, Massachusetts – and I was working out in the wrestling room at Amherst College. Henry Littlefield was the coach at Amherst then; Henry was a heavyweight – everything about him was grand. He was more expansive, he was eloquent; he was very rare, a kind of Renaissance man among wrestling coaches, and the atmosphere in the Amherst wrestling room was, to Henry’s credit, both aggressive and good-natured – a difficult combination to achieve.”




A Sentimental Journey of Closure


Richard J. Garfunkel



Not long ago I ventured westward for the first time in my life. Though into middle age and decently secure with my own sophistication, I had never crossed the continent, no less the Appalachians except for one round trip flight thirty years ago to Saint Louis. At that time, I was young, feckless and working as a junior analyst for Bache & Co., a long absorbed brokerage house, now an unknown part of the Prudential Empire. Part of my responsibilities, of that long ago forgotten mission, was to visit General Steel Industries, a company devoted to the manufacture of railroad cars. Not long after lunch, and without much of a hurried glance at the famous Arch on the bank of the Mississippi, I was back on a silver bird destined for LaGuardia and Wall Street.


Strangely, I had meticulously planned to visit our left coast sometime this coming summer. It would be a long delayed visit to see my friend, mentor and loyal correspondent of 37 years. Henry M. Littlefield, a towering physical and intellectual specimen, had spent the last 24 years administrating and teaching young minds on the Monterey Peninsular. Somehow my inner vision of Monterey reminded me of the drawings that illustrated an old Modern Library edition of a Steinbeck novel, probably about the sardine industry of Cannery Row. But, the fates being the way they are, strange un-chartered winds blow across the careful plans we mortals conceive. Old, big, and reliable Henry, a towering 6’ 5” 250+ pounder, was in the midst of a three-year struggle against the ravages of colon cancer. Even though we had a guarded view of his long-term future, we never expected such a quick and negative turn in his prognosis. Within a short period of time, his health went from bad to worse. This precipitated a call from wife Madeline, and before very long the valiant struggle was over. There is never real honor in death, but though inevitable to us all, I later learned Henry did it his way.


So those fates again came into play, and I made arrangements, via the computer, for two tickets to San Francisco. My traveling companion was a colleague and protégé of Henry’s, one Randy Forrest, a legendary black man who is five years my senior and from New Rochelle, a neighboring town to my home of Mount Vernon. In his own way, Randy was as remarkable a story as Henry, or anyone else mind you. The fact that these two accomplished men, from my youth, still were part of my life in middle age remains a story to itself. After decades apart, except for a few isolated, but happy occasions, Randy and I found ourselves linked together on a journey we never imagined, to a place where nothing would have attracted us, except our common love and respect for a friend. Randy is a very wide and muscular fellow. He reminds one of a shorter, more chiseled, version of Harry Carson, the NY Giant football Hall of Famer. But Randy, reacting like any other mortal, beneath that bronze armor that masqueraded as skin, was just as leery of flying as yours truly. I just faked it better. So here we were, the Mutt and Jeff of Eastern mourners. And as we made our journey from one venue to the next, our visage caught stares of quixotic curiosity. Both of us being outgoing personages, we told all who could hear, and patient enough to listen, that we were going on a 3000 mile condolence call. Our fleeting public’s sense of sadness and respect seemed to make us feel better.


Not to bore anyone with the dynamics of a hotel stay and a car rental, we arrived at night, hit the head, watched the boob tube and drifted off to sleep. The next morning, after rising and staring out at the haze, we moved out quickly, looked at a map, jumped into our car and headed south towards Monterey. We never looked back. Never saw the legendary city by the bay never saw the cable cars or Fisherman’s Wharf never saw anything! We just headed south. We just talked and talked. It wasn’t hard to talk, because we had known each other for forty years. But, ironically it was Henry who brought us together, initially in the dingy dank wrestling room of ancient Edison Tech, where our wrestling team worked out, and now for probably a last time on a journey of farewell to that same man. Its a hundred or so miles to Monterey and frankly we got a bit lost. The Californian topography along that route south was surprisingly dull. There were few trees, rolling un-pretty mowed green hills, plenty of cars and urban sprawl. It certainly did not impress me. But, we weren’t tourists with time to burn, and the memorial was at 12 noon, and our margin of error was narrow. Thankfully, with all equanimity and the familiarity of an old married couple we sort of engineered a course correction and found our way onto the peninsula. I remember seeing the welcome sight of the Pacific and a fleet of fishing boats tied up along the piers of a small town as we coasted down a long sloping grade. I knew we couldn’t be too far away then. Eventually, with out much more skill, we entered Carmel, looked for directions to Lighthouse Avenue, and remarkably found ourselves in the midst of street fair that shut off most of the town from vehicular traffic. What a mess! After traveling 3000+ miles across the continent, after a 3-hour confused and meandering trip southward from San Francisco, we found ourselves lost in Carmel, and wondering whether we would ever find Henry’s home. Wandering through and around all the food bourses and souvenir booths, one with a small imagination could easily think they were lost in a Hitchcock film, maybe the carnival scene in Strangers on a Train.  Enough furtive questions led us in the right direction, and with a turn here and there, up ahead was 765 Lighthouse. We had arrived finally in the important and aimed for part of Carmel, and this part of our journey had ended. We had more things of course to do; more people to see, more words to say, more tears to shed, but we both realized without speaking or looking at each other, that a crucial chapter in our lives was about to be closed forever.


A Trip to Carmel for the memorial service given for Dr. Henry M. Littlefield, coach, sportsman, teacher, Dean, Headmaster, writer, historian, poet, actor, mentor and friend for 40 years. There were over 1000 people at the Memorial Service, and Madeline stood, greeted and spoke to almost every one for over five hours. The great irony of it all is that only a handful of us even knew Henry was a famous wrestling coach from the East! The rest came out to honor the great man for his other locally famous virtues. 



How We Met!


Regarding my relationship with Henry, I was much more of a roughhouse type and after a rough year at Horace Mann I was a bit more dysfunctional. I related to Henry quite quickly as a friend and outsider. To a degree I was always an “outsider.” In the fall of 1961, after Vinnie Olson cut me from the BB team, (he regretted it later and told me, and Gene Ridenour the new coach the next year, in 1962-3, was my gym teacher and saw me play each day in phys-ed. He asked me to play on the varsity. I told him that I didn't want to sit as a senior, and I had tossed in my hat with HML and was totally committed to what he wanted. Gene and I remained friends for many, many years after that!


Meanwhile the year before, and right after being cut, I wandered around a bit and even though I had never met HML I decided it was time. Tony Taddey, who was a neighbor and a year younger, had joined the football team and raved about Henry. So I went up to him, told I knew Gus Petersen, the famous trainer, former star wrestler from the turn of the century and long-time coach at Columbia U, at Horace Mann and we clicked. On a long 3-hour bus ride to Cheshire Academy, in the fall of 1961, we talked about history (WWII), a common interest for both of us and we became quite close. Over the years I always worked for him and had the pleasure of running the NY State Section I Wrestling Tournament held in MV for three years in a row 1964-5-6. I came in from college for the event and did all of the coordinating. I wound up being his closest friend and acquaintance from MV. We exchanged 5000 letter, post cards, and e-mails from 1963 until his death in 2000. Randy Forrest and I went to his funeral in Monterrey, which was attended by over 1000 people! 



Lebron and the Media Circus 7-9-10

As a long-time Celtic fan, whose allegiance goes back to before the Bill Russell era, I have not a wit of interest in the past, present or future of the NY Knicks. I didn’t like them since they were coached by Joe Lapchick, no less Fuzzy Levane. Ever since the retirement of the great Larry Bird, I have had little interest in the thuggish profile of the NBA. As to the criminal style of the last few successful Knick teams, which featured some of the worst offenders in the persona of Anthony Mason and others, I completely ignored the sport. The recent Celtic run to the NBA finals piqued my interest and drew me to watch basketball for the first time in years. It was too bad that they were ill-served by their brain dead coach.


As for the recent media frenzy over free agency,  the former wunderkind Lebron James showed me very little in the now forgotten 2010 series against the Celts. I was unimpressed with him, and the other “Max” stars are not much different then good players of any era. The big difference is that they are insanely overpaid, and the fools who go to their games today are paying record dollars to support their ridiculous lifestyle. My assumption is that many franchises will be in financial trouble over the next few years. But, what else is new when one looks at the history of American sports. More and more excess and the rich get richer. As for Cleveland, the northern Ohio economy is approximately $180 billion, and the loss of Lebron, like the defection of Art Modell will not doom that area to extinction. By the way, former MVHS basketball star and 10-year NBA veteran Ray Williams, who earned $2 million in his career, is currently living out of his car. What does that say for sports in America? In fact, according to the NFL, 90% of their players, who have played less than three years are now bankrupt. By the way, most of these players, unlike the NBA geniuses, actually attended college for four years.


In the recent “circus maximus” that the NBA had encouraged, I really wondered whether we had entered into another chapter of “Alice in Wonderland.” As the news came over the wires of the Lebron decision, while I was watching my nightly fix of DVRed “Have Gun Will Travel,” with Richard Boone as Paladin, I started to weep crocodile tears for the Knick fans, who had been drooling over the prospect of Lebron James coming to Madison Square Garden for five years. I had alwasy wondered why he would want to come to NYC and play for the dysfunctional Dolans who control the Knicks and the Garden, and expose his human fragilities to the carnivorous, child-eating NYC press corps!


Now it is over, and we can go back to the normality of the baseball season, and worrying about our lawns. The NBA owners will continue to put their soap box opera on the hard floors and the Knicks will invest more money in losers like Stephan Marbury and the world will continue to revolve on its axis for a few more billion years.



Letter to the Journal news 7-8-10

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, and I paraphrase, “paying taxes is the price of civilization.” Our high tax levels are directly connected to the cost of living in this region and the cost of labor which performs the services. If people want lower taxes, they will have to accept the consequences of layoffs and, as in the case of Yonkers, a cutback in sanitation. If one wants less garbage pickups, less fire and police protection, and a deterioration of our infrastructure, cut back on government, plain and simple. I often ask my conservative friends, what are they willing to give up. Is it the environment; clean air, clean water? Is it our schools? Few have any answers. The “Tea Party” adherents are long on patriotism, long on complaints, and for sure, short on solutions. Why don’t they take voluntary cutbacks from their compensation, their healthcare benefits and their social security and Medicare reimbursements?


Recently there have been a spate of “know-nothing” letters to the editor One that came to my attention was, the July 8th, letter to the editor, “Political quackery was ruining our nation.”  The author’s assertion that President Obama was not elected with enough of a percentage of the 300+ million Americans is absurd. In a democracy, and especially one that cherishes free speech, every crack pot has a right to make a fool of him/herself. His claim that all the people that are running for office are, “buffoons, hacks and bottom feeders,” is patently ridiculous and inflammatory rhetoric. Who in a free country should decide other than the individual themselves to run and the people who carry petitions and support that person in a free and open primary or general election? Talk is cheap, we hear it for free every day, let’s hear some new ideas, not any more libertarian flummery.


The Imperial Cruise to Mt. Suribachi and Okinawa 6-23-10

The Imperial Cruise to Mount Suribachi and Okinawa

A Summer of Reading, Revisionism and Introspection

Richard J. Garfunkel

June 23, 2010


James Bradley, with his latest book, The Imperial Cruise, has woven an eye-opening, unforgettable tale of deceit, racism, bravado, warmongering and misplaced jingoism at the feet of one of our most revered presidents, Theodore Roosevelt. With his earlier book, Flag of Our Fathers, he has established book ends to our Pacific foreign policy from the 1880’s through the end of World War II. This summer, the long-awaited series, the HBO production of The Pacific, premiered. It was based on a number of books written by veterans of some specific Pacific campaigns which included; Guadalcanal, Peleliu and Okinawa. In a way this series was able to complement Bradley’s Flag of Our Father’s which told the story of the fight for Iwo Jima. I was given a copy of Flag of Our Fathers, on the occasion of my 55th birthday on May 2, 2000, by my daughter Dana. Almost six months later, to the day, I attended a talk and a book-signing given by the author James Bradley at Manhattanville College. I never forgot his riveting and inspirational talk about the historical event that took place that day on the rim of Mount Suribachi. Bradley’s father and other intrepid Marines raised “Old Glory” to the excitement and adulation of all the men and sailors who looked upward from the beach and the fleet. Of course, the reasons the Marines had clawed their way up Mount Suribachi and had fought across the Pacific are generally well-known. After the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, we were thrust into World War II and under the inspired political and strategic leadership of President Franklin Delano and the tactical command of General Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, our bloody march to Tokyo Bay was planned and accomplished.  But, as most of us know, the price was very high and paid in blood and treasure.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, along with subsequent and immediate aggression upon our bases the Philippines brought us into World War II. Few in America would have believed that a relatively small country like Japan would have the audacity, no less the skills, logistics and bravery to take on the United States. Most Americans thought that our next fight would be with Nazi Germany and that “freedom of the seas” could be the same excuse in the 1940’s as it was in Woodrow Wilson’s time. Japan and the Japanese were always looked down upon through numerous caricatures that portrayed them as buck-teethed, near sighted, devious, and tiny. They were thought of by many as a sub-human specie, and ironically, in the face of all their early successes in the Pacific and the reality that they were brave and tenacious fighters, this image of stayed with most Americans. It took a number of Pacific battles before the American public grudgingly had greater appreciation for their military and human skills. We as a people had been ignoring Asia and the Pacific for many years. Even with the Japanese conquering of Manchuria, the Panay Incident and the invasion and occupation of most of China’s eastern provinces and cities, most Americans believed that the vast Pacific Ocean, guarded by our fleet would always protect us. As a matter of policy, the United States, since January 1933, before the inauguration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in March of that year, had adopted what has been called the Stimson Doctrine. The Stimson Doctrine was a policy of the United States government, which articulated in a note of January 10, 1933, to Japan and China, the non-recognition of international territorial changes that were executed by force. The doctrine was an application of the principle of ex injuria jus non oritur. Named after Henry L. Stimson, United States Secretary of State in the Hoover Administration (1929–1933), the policy was directed at Japan's unilateral seizure of Manchuria in northeastern China and the actions of Japanese soldiers at Mukden (now Shenyang), on September 18, 1931. Henry L. Stimson, a life-long Republican, who had a long career in government, which included an earlier stint as President William Howard Taft’s Secretary of War, would later serve as President Roosevelt’s Secretary of War. In the wake of our emergence as a belligerent in the 2nd World War, President Roosevelt created a bi-partisan cabinet and appointed to key positions, both Stimson, and the long-time Republican newspaper publisher Frank Knox as Secretary of the Navy. Knox even had been nominated for the vice-presidency, by the Republican Party, with Governor Alf Landon to run against FDR in 1936. Ironically Landon and Knox were supporters of Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive Party’s candidacy in 1912, as was FDR’s Secretary of the Interior, “Honest” Harold Ickes. They were the only Republicans to support Teddy Roosevelt and be nominated on a national GOP ticket. To most Americans, the rise of Japan as an aggressor state was understood and recognized, but the paradox was that we had also gone through a long period of strong cooperation. The story of that relationship and Japan’s change is explored quite thoroughly in James Bradley’s book.

Bradley, in The Imperial Cruise goes back in time to trace the beginnings of our eventual fight with Japan during World War II, and why we wound up clawing our way through bloody Pacific campaigns until his father wounds up on the summit of Mount Suribachi.  He chronicles the rise of Japan from its hundreds of years of isolation, from its opening by Commodore Matthew C. Perry (Matthew Perry was the son of Navy Captain Christopher R. Perry and the younger brother of Oliver Hazard Perry.) and his heavily armed fleet in 1853 to the Treaty of Portsmouth, NH, which ended the Russo-Japanese War. The negotiations for a treaty were initiated by President Theodore Roosevelt, in May of 1905, to resolve the outstanding issues created by the overwhelming victory over Russia by Japanese forces on land and sea. Despite the international community's uproar at Roosevelt's actions, which had even been called illegal, his actions upheld exactly what had been stated as the role of a neutral state in the Hague Conference of 1899. Under the mediation of Roosevelt, peace negotiations continued despite the lack of armistice between Japan and Russia. This lack of an armistice allowed the Japanese to attack Sakhalin Island while the representatives were in mid-voyage to Portsmouth, NH and later enabled the Japanese to make new claims to the island during the negotiations.

In accordance with the Portsmouth treaty, both Japan and Russia agreed to evacuate Manchuria and return its sovereignty to China, but Japan was leased the Liaodong Peninsula (containing Port Arthur and Talien), and the Russian rail system in southern Manchuria with access to strategic natural resources. Japan also received the southern half of the Island of Sakhalin from Russia. Although Japan gained a great deal from the treaty, it was not nearly as much as the Japanese public had been led to expect, since Japan's initial negotiating position had demanded all of Sakhalin and a monetary indemnity. The Russians, despite their massive defeat, had no intention of indemnifying the Japanese. As a result of his actions, in bring both sides to the peace table and succeeding with a treaty, President Roosevelt was honored with the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize.

The question that Bradley explores is why and how did this all evolve. The beginnings of America’s march into the Pacific began first with the corporate conquest and rape of the Hawaiian Islands by an American business oligarchy led by James Dole, of the Dole Pineapple Company, and his cousin Sanford, who became the first President of the Republic of Hawaii, after deposing its last monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani. Bradley recounts how Hawaiian President Dole’s provisional government in 1894, survived quite well on its own and could bide its time, despite President Grover Cleveland’s and Congressional opposition to annexation of the Islands, along with a general feeling of the US public that America should not acquire the Hawaii. In the years since the resignation of Hawaii’s Queen, the Dole government was working hard to solidify its economic and social control. According to Bradley, Theodore Roosevelt, years before he was a known public figure, was “outraged that Cleveland had not proudly “followed the sun” to Hawaii. Indeed, it was this failure by Cleveland that sparked Roosevelt’s interest in Pacific expansion.

Eventually with the election of William McKinley in 1906, as president, the lobbying to make Hawaii part of the United States continued unabatedly. Bradley chronicles the ongoing issue of the annexation of Hawaii and he wrote, “The war with Spain provided another excuse, as Congressman De Alva Alexander of New York declared, ‘The annexation of the Hawaiian Islands, for the first time in our history, is presented to us a war necessity.’” By July of 1898, Congress passed the Hawaiian Resolution Act and it was signed the next day by President McKinley. Within a month the islands were formerly turned over to the United States. Interestingly, according to Bradley, it was ascertained that at the time of Captain James Cook’s so-called “discovery” of the islands in 1778, that there was estimated to be more than a million people living in the Hawaii Islands. He reports, “Just two generations later, in 1832, the first missionary census found only 130,000 survivors.” It seems, that along with Cook and his crew, came tuberculosis, typhus, yellow fever, measles, small pox, bronchitis, whooping cough to the otherwise healthy and pristine Islands. Within the next generation or so, with the physical disappearance of most of the native Hawaiians, the growth of the population of white settlers, known as the Haoles, the importation of Asian workers, and the rise of the local sugar and pineapple interests, the character and the demographics of the islands had changed forever.

With regards to further Pacific expansionism, after the (accidental) explosion of the USS Maine in Havana’s harbor, the Hearst-inspired faux war to rid Cuba of Spain ensued. By the time of the Maine disaster, which caused the death of 250 sailors, the American “yellow press” had turned the nation's focus to Cuba, where insurgents had struggled against the Spanish colonial government forces for more than a year. New York City's first mass-media moguls, William Randolph Hearst and his Journal along with Joseph Pulitzer's World, were beating the bellicose war drums with mostly concocted stories of Spanish brutality, atrocities and what we would know today as war crimes. American voices that supported domination and pacification of the Caribbean were clamoring for intervention incessantly. Most shared the “big gun navy” and expansionist views of US Navy Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, the intellectual father of our modern navy. To Mahan, the over-arching proposition for Americans was “whether Eastern or Western civilization is to dominate throughout the earth and to control its future.” Harvard had honored Mahan with an LL.D. at the Commencement of 1895; and Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge were among his disciples. His book, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783, which was published in 1890, became the future Bible of the “big gun navy” advocates.

Two months before the Spanish-American War broke out, and in preparation for this new action, the now Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt instructed Commodore George Dewey, commanding the navy's Asiatic squadron in Hong Kong, to prepare to engage Spain's small fleet in the Philippines. Roosevelt now resigned from the navy department, volunteered for action in Cuba, ordered a blue lieutenant colonel's uniform from Brooks Brothers, and assumed deputy command of the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, which he named the “Rough Riders,” which name he had taken from his youthful hero, Buffalo Bill Cody. The regiment's commander was a close friend, Colonel Leonard Wood, M.D. Wood, a former frontier military surgeon and Indian fighter, was also President McKinley's personal physician. Despite the fact that the Cuban rebels were winning their war of independence and on the verge of driving the Spaniards out of their land, America was stirred to free the Cubans under the mantra, “Remember the Maine!”  Colonels Wood’s and Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders,” headed for Tampa, Florida and embarked with their horses and equipment for Cuba.

With the crushing of the Spanish fleets off Cuba and the Philippines and the defeat of the their land forces in a series of battles on Cuba, including Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill, “The Splendid Little War,” dubbed by Ambassador and future Secretary of State John Hay, ended quickly. As a consequence of this victory, the acquisition of the Philippines resulted in America acquiring a Pacific base for its Asiatic designs on ensuing more economic hegemony in China. As a result of these actions from the 1890’s to the earliest days of the 20th Century, Theodore Roosevelt’s vision of America becoming a strong imperial power started to come to fruition.

The Treaty of Paris, which officially ended the Cuban hostilities, was signed in December, 1898, and turned over much of Spain's shrinking properties in the Western Hemisphere to the United States. The Congress wanted nothing to with U.S. claims to Cuba, but the former Spanish possession remained under American military and martial rule for more than three years. The US Navy retained in perpetuity a large base at the tip of the eastern part of the island, known as Guantanamo. Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam were also part of the ultimate settlement. Ironically, American policy had been shaped by the Ostend Manifestoa document written in 1854, which enunciated the rationale for the United States to purchase Cuba from Spain and implied the U.S. should declare war if Spain refused. Cuba's acquisition had long been a goal of U.S. expansionists and Monroe Doctrine adherents. However, diplomatically, the United States and its public had been ambivalent towards Spanish rule as so long as it did not pass Cuba to a stronger European power. The Ostend Manifesto was a product of the debates over slavery in the United States, Manifest Destiny, and the Monroe Doctrine: The Ostend Manifesto proposed a shift in foreign policy, justifying the use of force to seize Cuba in the name of national security. In 1898, when Cuba was nominally acquired by the United States through war and treaty, many Americas were opposed to having millions of dark-skinned Cubans as subjects of American rule. Therefore, Cuba remained nominally free of the United States, but its governments from 1898 though Colonel Fulgencio Batista, the last leader before Fidel Castro, was beholden to American influence, protection, and business interests. Many of these business interests were dominated by American organized crime.

As for Spain, it was a crushing defeat in more ways than one. Their exit from the Western Hemisphere was a stunning blow to Spain’s dwindling international profile and national pride, and had a remarkable costl in human terms. From the start of the Cuban rebellion to the end of hostilities, many thousands (50,000) of Spaniards died of yellow fever or other diseases, while another 9000 or so died of wounds, injuries, and military action. At the end of the war 10’s of thousands had been captured. On the American side of the equation, some 6000 regulars and volunteers died of infectious diseases, expired of war wounds, and amongst that number, 496 men were killed in action.

In the Philippines the United States got more than it expected or probably ever wanted. The provisions of the Treaty of Paris called for Spain to surrender the islands for a compensation of $20 million. But, as James Bradley describes so well, we got much more than we really bargained for. The Filipinos had traded their Catholic conquistadores for the “Protestant Ethic” of New World. Within weeks, Filipino rebels, under the leadership of Emilio Aquinaldo and the U.S. occupation forces were locked in a shooting war. It took 63,000 casualties and 4,300 American deaths, and almost three years to crush the revolt. “The planting of liberty–not money–is what we seek,” insisted General Arthur MacArthur, the American commandant, and the famous Congressional Medal of Honor recipient father of future General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. But in the new emerging reality, America's acquisition of the Philippines was thought as a preemptive move against Russia, Germany, and other European powers with colonial aims in the Far East. The war basically ended when its young rebel leader, Emilio Aguinaldo, who had earlier become president in 1897, at age 29, during the fight for independence against Spain, was captured by General Frederick Funston. Amazingly, with all the violence and changes in the political and military conditions he lived to the age of 94 and was able to see the Philippines invaded by the Japanese in 1941, suffer through a horrendous occupation, the liberation by American forces, and independence in 1946. Though he cooperated with the Japanese during the war, he was later exonerated because his collaboration was seen as a result of extreme duress.

During this brutal period of conflict, Bradley reveals the truth of the real history of the American occupation and war in the Philippines. This history, which had been white-washed for generations, included incredible racism, brutality, lynching’s, concentration camps, mass killings, and a virtual blood bath, rivaling the murderous conduct of the Axis powers during World War II. In The Imperial Cruise, Bradley writes, “For forty-nine days in the spring of 1900, Commissioner (William Howard) Taft steamed across the wide Pacific, dreaming how he would mold the Pacific Negroes into a ‘self-governing people’ and build them a shiny new nation.”  Of course, in the words of Taft, with his famous utterance, “the little brown brothers” were not there to welcome him and his diplomatic entourage. In his cable to the United States, almost immediately after his arrival, he said, “The population of the islands is made up of a vast mass of ignorant, superstitious people, well-intentioned, light-hearted, temperate, somewhat cruel, domestic and fond of their families, and deeply wedded to the Catholic Church…These people are the greatest liars, it has been my fortune to meet, in many respects nothing but grown up children…They need the training of fifty or a hundred years before they even realize where Anglo-Saxon liberty is,”

By 1902, the new President Theodore Roosevelt had declared, with a “wave of his hand” that the insurrection was now at an end. Bradley describes the immense cost, “by then the war had cost the taxpayers of the United States more than (a whopping) six hundred million turn-of-the-twentieth century dollars, 4324 Americans were dead, 2817 had been wounded, and many soldiers who returned home would perish of related diseases and wounds. Most American history books claim that US forces killed twenty thousand freedom fighters and two hundred to three hundred thousand Filipino civilians: other sources estimate that the US military sent one to three million to their early graves.” The list of atrocities is endless. Even some American newspapers carried stories of the brutality. One that even disturbed President Roosevelt was written in the Washington Post “about how the US Army had systematically executed thirteen hundred Filipino prisoners of war in just one camp.” From beginning to end it is a daunting and repulsive story of Aryan propaganda, western theories of “civilization” and rationalization of genocidal murder and for what end?

From the stories of how the Philippines was governed to the role of the participants on the Imperial Cruise, which included the rotund Secretary of William Howard Taft, a future President and a Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Alice Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt’s only daughter, the darling of America’s media, a huge congressional delegation of twenty-seven, which included Nicholas Longworth, who would later wed Princess Alice, Bradley weaves a story of ill-fated foreign policy. As this historically unprecedented delegation sails from across the Pacific, docking in Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines, China, and Korea we learn of secret agreements and empty, and often, duplicitous promises which would lead to a disastrous path of bloody history which would include the Pacific War, the triumph of communism in China, and the Korean War.

Theodore Roosevelt came to office with a worldwide view that both China and Russian were dangerous peoples, not worthy to be considered at the level of true westerners. To Roosevelt, both the Chinese race and the Russian Slavic Empire were not to be trusted to rule, and that Aryan Westerners were designated by both Christianity and the White Race to dominate the world. On one hand he was a great believer in The “Open Door” policy towards China, which was articulated by Secretary of State John Hay, in 1898-9, who said, “that as the United States had become an East Asian power through the acquisition of the Philippine Islands, and when the partition of China by the European powers and Japan seemed imminent, the United States felt its commercial interests in China threatened.” U.S. Secretary of State John Hay sent notes to the major powers (France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, and Russia), asking them to declare formally that they would uphold Chinese territorial and administrative integrity and would not interfere with the free use of the treaty ports within their spheres of influence in China. The “Open Door” policy stated that all European nations, and the United States, could trade with China. According to President Theodore Roosevelt, he wanted the United States to be an “equal player” in opening the door to China through trade, but he also wanted to enforce race-hatred and fear through anti-Asian laws; the Burlingame Treaty of 1868, Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and eventually The National Quotas Act of 1924 (passed after his death in 1919) in the United States. The later act was passed with few dissents in both houses of Congress.

In 1902, the United States government protested that Russian encroachment in Manchuria after the Boxer Rebellion was a violation of the “Open Door Policy.” With fears over a Russian hegemony in natural resource rich Manchuria, Bradley contends that Japan was encouraged by the United States to stop Russia. When Japan replaced Russia in southern Manchuria after the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) the Japanese and U.S. governments pledged to maintain a policy of equality in Manchuria. The Roosevelt Policy of the Aryanization of Japan, through the adoption of westernization (dress, government, law, education, culture), was an effort to divide and weaken the larger Asian players; China, and Russia, for the purpose of having economic hegemony. Part of these secret agreements between Roosevelt and his Harvard educated friend Baron Kaneko would lead to both encouraging Japan’s surprise attack on Russia forces in 1904, and Roosevelt’s remarks, “I was thoroughly pleased with the Japanese victory, for Japan is playing our game.” Later he would write to Baron Kaneko, “Japan is the only nation in Asia that understands the principles and methods of Western civilization. She has proven that she can assimilate Western civilization, yet not break up its own heritage. All the Asian nations are now faced with the urgent necessity of adjusting themselves to the present age, Japan should be their natural leader in that process, and their protector during the transition stage, much as the United States assumed the leadership of the American continent many years ago, and by means of the Monroe Doctrine, preserved Latin America nations from European interference, while they were maturing their independence.”

As Bradley writes, Baron Kaneko is feted and celebrated, far and wide, in academic and intellectual circles in America. He is honored at Harvard, hosted at a dinner in his honor by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., and lauded as the new wave in a lasting American-Japanese concordat. “The Baron, told a new generation of Harvard ‘sunfollowers’ that the Japanese are ‘yellow in skin, but in heart and mind as white as Europeans and Americans…Our hearts beat just as much as Christian hearts- the civilized heart is the same the world over.’” So popular was his remarks that they were reprinted in a leading Boston newspaper and reprinted into thousands of booklets. Baron Kaneko continued to promote the Aryan mantra, its mythical emergence from Central Asia, and its fertile nesting place in England.

What Bradley exposes is the root causes that seemed to encourage Japan’s bellicosity, both with its war with China, the 1894-5 (The First Sino-Japanese War), the defeat of Russia (The Russo-Japanese War, 1904-5) and the utter destruction of its naval fleet at the Battle of Tsushima Straits, the diplomatic conquering of the two thousand year old Kingdom of Korea and the taking of the island of Formosa from China. In between, Theodore Roosevelt’s secret encouraging of Japan as America’s “Aryan” spear in the Pacific, to be used against both China and Russia. He details the extension of America’s manifest destiny policy (made famous by the historian Frederick Jackson Turner) regarding Roosevelt’s “follow the sun” strategy of economic and political hegemony in Asia. In promising Japan a free hand with his promotion of a Japanese style Monroe Doctrine, Roosevelt opened a Cassandra’s Box that could not be easily closed. With all of this encouragement of this Japanese cult of superiority over its Asian neighbors, the seeds of conflict were sown for future generations.

As the years advanced and the growing Japanese economic dynamo of westernization took hold, certain realities became apparent. Japan’s alliance against Germany in World War I allowed it to take over German possessions in the Pacific. Officially the League of Nations granted Japan Class C Mandates of the Marshall, Caroline and Marianas Island groups, which had been formally controlled by Germany through international arbitration settled by Pope Leo XII in 1885. Japan’s growing prosperity also increased their birth rate and as their population grew their need for arable land and natural resources also grew. They also were populating these Pacific possessions with not only their own citizens, but workers from Korea and Okinawa. This of course would lead to their invasion of natural resource rich Manchuria in 1931, their setting up of the puppet state of Manchukuo and the Second Sino-Japanese War that would begin in 1937. The need and hunger for more oil to fuel their growing navy and land forces would encourage them to seek new fertile areas to conquer. Their sights were set on French-Indo China and their huge rice production, the Dutch East Indies and the massive oil reserves in Java and the key British Crown Colonies of Hong Kong and Singapore. What stood in their way of unfettered conquest was the American fleet anchored in Pearl Harbor, and the American military facilities in the Philippines at Cavite, Clark Field, along with thousands of US soldiers and Filipino Scouts under the command of Field Marshall Douglas MacArthur on Leyte and Luzon.

This fatal decision to promote the interests of Japan, as our silent partner, was very possibly encouraged by both flawed America racial prejudice and our economic avarice in the early part of the 20th Century. This policy would prove fatal to millions. Of course, this leads directly to the HBO production of The Pacific and its personal coverage of some of the men who served and suffered in that Theater of Operation.

Meanwhile, the HBO documentary, The Pacific, broadcast this spring was a follow-up to the very successful and award-winning Band of Brothers, which was originally produced and aired in 2001,  Its powerful narrative centers on the experiences of E Company (“Easy Company”) of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment assigned to the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army. The series covers Easy's basic training at Toccoa, Georgia, the American airborne landings in Normandy, Operation Market Garden, the Battle of Bastogne and on to the end of the war, including the taking of the Kehlsteinhaus (Hitler's Eagle's Nest).

The Pacific, which was produced almost ten years later showed the stark differences between the conditions in the European Theater and the war in the Pacific. It focused on the United States Marine Corps' actions in the Pacific Theater of Operations within the wider Pacific War. Whereas Band of Brothers followed one Army infantry company through the European Theater, The Pacific follows three marines (Eugene Sledge, Robert Leckie and John Basilone) in separate combat actions. The Pacific was based primarily on two memoirs of U.S. Marines, With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by Eugene Sledge and Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie. The miniseries tells the stories of the two authors and Marine John Basilone, as the war against the Empire of Japan rages. It also draws on Sledge's China Marine and Red Blood, Black Sand, the memoir of Chuck Tatum, a Marine who fought alongside Basilone in Iwo Jima. The miniseries features well-known battles with Japan involving the 1st Marine Division, such as Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, Peleliu, and Okinawa, as well as Basilone's involvement in the Battle of Iwo Jima.

By the time of The Pacific’s production, the three main characters had passed away. John Basilone, (November 4, 1916 – February 19, 1945), had served three years in the United States Army with duty in the Philippines before joining the Marine Corps in 1940. After attending Marine Corps training, Basilone deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Solomon Islands and eventually to Guadalcanal where in the course of one battle, he held off 3,000 Japanese troops after his 15-member unit was reduced to two other men. For that action he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and subsequently was returned to the United States. In the following months, after a parade in his home town, he toured the country with Bond Rallies raising money for the war effort and achieved celebrity status. Although he appreciated the admiration, he felt out of place and requested to return to the action in the Pacific. The Marine Corps turned him down and basically told him he was needed more at home. They felt that he would be vulnerable to either injury or death, and basically they wanted a “live” hero. The Marines offered him a commission, but he felt more comfortable as a NCO and wanted to return to his men. He, therefore again, requested to return to combat and eventually the Marines relented, his request was approved, and he left for Camp Pendleton, California for training on December 27, 1943. Upon his return to action, he was killed on the first day of the Battle of Iwo Jima, after which he was posthumously honored with the Navy Cross. He has received many honors including being the namesake for streets, military locations and a United States Navy destroyer. He was the only US Marine, in the Pacific Theater during World War II, to be awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.

Eugene Bondurant Sledge (November 4, 1923 – March 3, 2001) was a United States Marine, university professor, and author. His 1981 memoir With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa chronicled his combat experiences during World War II and was subsequently used as source material for Ken Burn's PBS documentary, The War, as well as the HBO miniseries The Pacific.. During his service, as a Marine 60mm mortarman, Sledge kept notes of what happened in his pocket sized New Testament Bible. After the Japanese capitulation, he was posted to Beijing, China and then was repatriated to the United States, where he was discharged from the Marine Corps in February 1946 with the rank of Corporal. In the coming years as a writer and professor, he took those notes and compiled them into the memoir that was entitled With the Old Breed

Robert Leckie (December 18, 1920 – December 24, 2001) was the author of a number of best-selling books regarding the military history of the United States. As a young man, he served in the Pacific with1st Marine Division during World War II. His experiences as a machine gunner and intelligence scout during the Battle of Guadalcanal and later campaigns greatly influenced his writing. His first and best-selling book, Helmet for My Pillow, a personal war memoir, was published in 1957. Leckie subsequently wrote more than 40 books on American war history. He, like EB Sledge, died in 2001 after fighting a long battle with Alzheimer's Disease.

In between the famous and long-lasting Battle of Guadalcanal, and the final campaign of World War II, the invasion of Okinawa, the bloody battle of Iwo Jima takes place. Leckie and Sledge, who were central to the production of The Pacific, did not fight on that island. James Bradley, whose father was one of the heroic US Marines who raised the flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, also wrote dramatically about the Battle of Iwo Jima, in his now famous Flag of Our Fathers. Of course, that horrendous battle is mostly remembered by current generations because of the famous photograph of the second raising of the American flag on the 554 foot extinct volcano that dominated the island and the US Marine Corps Memorial, which is based on that photo, in Alexandria, VA, just over the bridge from the Lincoln Memorial.

With regards to the pivotal flag-raising on Iwo Jima, by the fourth day of the brutal combat that would last for five weeks and claim 26,039 (6,822 KIAs) American casualties, Mount Suribachi, was captured. Because the first flag raised on the summit was deemed too small, the 2nd Battalion commander, Colonel Chandler W. Johnson, whose temperament was as fiery as the legendary Marine General Howland “Howling Mad” Smith’s, said that the original flag was for the men of our battalion and ordered Lt. Wells to get another flag to replace the first flag. Wells said he sent his company runner, Rene Gagnon, (later to be a flag raiser) to the beach to get a flag from one of the many crafts that were wrecked and littered along the beach. Interestingly, Col. Johnson later recalled that he had sent Lt. Ted Tuttle to the same beach to get the replacement flag. Johnson called after Tuttle and said, “And make it a bigger one.” While Lt. Tuttle was looking for a replacement flag, Gagnon, who had also been sent to the beach, reached Colonel Johnson’s command position. Tuttle took a large 96” by 56” American flag to the Colonel that he had obtained from LST-779. This flag had been found in a salvage yard at Pearl Harbor and had been rescued from a sinking ship on December 7th. He handed it to the Colonel, who in turn gave it to Gagnon. He told Gagnon and others with him, “You tell (Lt.) Schrier to put this flag up, and I want him to save the small flag for me.”


By the time Gagnon got back to the top, Joe Rosenthal, the Associated Press photographer, had arrived. A long pole was found, and because it was long and heavy it took quite a few men to hoist it to the site of where the first flag was planted. Ironically, when Rosenthal had disembarked from the command ship, he had slipped on a wet ladder and had landed in the ocean between that ship and a landing craft. He had to be fished from the water. He was lucky his bulky, but durable 35mm Speed Graphic was in a waterproof bag. After he landed he was able to get a few shots of General Smith and Secretary Forrestal disembarking from their landing craft. He and another reporter had heard that the Marines were approaching the top of Suribachi. Along with Rosenthal, was Bill Hipper, a magazine correspondent, and combat photographers Private Bob Campbell, who worked with a still camera and Sergeant Bill Genaust, who had a movie camera loaded with color film.


As Rosenthal approached the top shortly after noon, he noticed a couple of marines hauling a long heavy iron pole. The pole the marines were dragging was a length of drainage pipe and weighed more than a hundred pounds. As the three photographers milled around, the first flag was lowered, some photos and movies were taken, and the marines got set for the almost simultaneous raising of the second and larger flag. The Marines wanted the replacement of the smaller flag with the larger one to be seamless. Rosenthal set his camera down and piled up some stones and a sand bag to stand his short five foot five inch frame upon. His camera was set a 1/400th of a second with an f-stop between 8 and 16.


By the time Rosenthal looked up, the second flag-raising quickly happened as the men, Ira Hays, Frank Sousley, John Bradley, Harlon Block, Mike Strank and Rene Gagnon carried the flag and started to plant it into the ground. As they approached, Rosenthal spotted their movement, grabbed his camera, and got set. Genaust who was about three feet away asked Rosenthal if he was in his way. Rosenthal said. “Oh no,” and later said “Hey Bill, there it goes.” Everyone got what they wanted, the first flag going down and the second larger flag going up. Rosenthal wasn’t even sure that the shot would come out. After a few moments Rosenthal did what Lowery had done, he called several marines to cluster around the pole for a standard shot. Eventually 18 marines would be in this casual shot. They were laughing, waving their arms and helmets. The replacement flag-raising was so casual that it was never even reported in the 2nd Battalion’s “Action Report.”

After watching The Pacific and discussing its place in the history of cinematic and broadcast history, I re-read EB Sledge’s classic account of action in the Pacific Theater, With the Old Breed, at Peleliu and Okinawa. The 1st Marine Division, which Sledge served, is the largest unit on active duty in the United States Marine Corps. Nicknamed “the Old Breed,” or the “Blue Diamond,” the 1st Marine Division is also the most decorated unit of its size in the USMC. The 1st Marine Division is the ground combat element of the I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) and is stationed at Camp Pendleton in California

Many millions of words have been written about the brutal combat in the Pacific Theater of Operations. Unlike in Europe, or even North Africa, our Pacific fighting men had no sense of what they were doing, why they were there and where they were going. The US Armed Forces in Europe looked at their effort as one of engaging other civilized and Christian westerners. In 1940, about 40% of the American population had German blood, and it was considered our largest, hyphenated national group. German was almost universally taught in the schools in America up until 1917, and many Americas still spoke it in their homes. With regards to their Axis partner Italy, the amount of native born Italo-Americans in 1942, was also very large, well-known, and active in the culture of American society, with people like Joe DiMaggio, Jimmy Durante, Victor Mature, Lou Costello, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Frank Capra and various adopted opera stars, like the great Enrico Caruso. Therefore, the American armed forces were made up of many immigrants from the old and new immigration periods of American history. The rules of warfare, elucidated by the Geneva Convention were thought to apply. In actuality, there were few battlefield atrocities inflicted by Axis forces on western allied soldiers, who were captured. Thousands of American, British, French and Canadians, unlike their Russian counterparts, were able to survive long and bitter years in German POW camps. The typical Allied soldier thought that he would be treated humanely if captured, and also thought that surrender was respected under the rules of war. The Allied soldier respected their German opponents as fellow soldiers and only at the end of the war, when the atrocities were exposed, did the average American realize the barbarism of the Nazis. But, in most part, most Allied soldiers did not regard the average German soldier as a committed Nazi!

In the Pacific, of course, much of the brutal combat, vividly recounted in The Pacific documentary, was the culmination of a three-year struggle with the Empire of Japan. Americans quickly learned from the earliest days of the Bataan death march, that this was a different war against a different type of person and soldier. The Japanese soldier was seen as an unrelenting foe, who would not surrender, and who believed that his foes were cowards who did surrender. The battles of the Pacific were fought on strange islands, which were completely unfamiliar to the average soldier. On some islands there were no indigenous people. In most of the islands the terrain was made up of volcanic rock, and coral sands. There was little vegetation, horrible heat and humidity, no drinking water and an incredible amount of rain. Even a 90-mile long tropical island like Guadalcanal was uninhabitable and it had no standing fresh water. Therefore, the war became one of brutality, of one of survival and therefore; kill or be killed. There was no London, Paris, Naples Rome or even a Casablanca or Tangiers for rest and recovery. It was the ultimate for survival resulting in degradation and dehumanization. It is in that context, which EB Sledge so dramatically describes and The Pacific so vividly portrays.


Hanson W. Baldwin, former NY Times’ Military Editor, wrote in his classic book, Battles Lost and Won, about Okinawa, “In retrospect, the battle for Okinawa can be described only in the grim superlatives of war. In size, scope, and ferocity it dwarfed the Battle of Britain. Never before had there been, probably never again will there be, such a vicious, sprawling struggle of planes against planes, of ships against planes. Never before, in so short a space, had the Navy lost so many ships; never before in land fighting had so much American blood been shed in so short of time, in so small an area; probably never before in three months of the war had the enemy suffered so hugely, and the final toll of American casualties was the highest experienced in any campaign against the Japanese. There have been larger land battles, more protracted air campaigns, but Okinawa was the largest combined operation, a ‘no-quarter’ struggle fought on, under and over the sea and land.” He summed up the battle by writing, “Okinawa was an epic of human endurance and courage. The Japanese forms of attack represented ingenious desperation; the US defense against them and the successful seizure of Okinawa were a masterpiece of logistics, operation planning and determined implementation.” Finally the blood-letting was at an end, and on June 22, 1945, except for the continued air raids on the Japanese home islands, the work of the Marines was over.


This almost four-year bloody and titanic struggle officially ended, September 2, 1945, on the deck of the American battleship Missouri, anchored in Tokyo with the surrender ceremonies led by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur along with Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and military representatives from all of the Allied Nations that waged war against Japan. It historically began on December 7, 1941, with the Japanese sneak attack on our naval and military facilities in the Hawaiian Islands. But did it, in reality, begin with American designs on Asian markets, the need for coaling stations across the Pacific, the “Opening of Japan” by Commodore Perry, and the confused mixture of idealism and racism embodied by President Theodore Roosevelt?









The Roosevelt Reading Festival 6-19-10

The Roosevelt Summer Book Reading Festival

June 19, 2010

Richard J. Garfunkel


The Roosevelt Summer Book Reading Festival has again been blessed with great weather. It therefore was an incredibly pleasant day on the Hudson River. On days like this one could easily imagine why Franklin Roosevelt loved his home so much. The drive up the Taconic to Route West 55 to Poughkeepsie was smooth, uneventful and relatively free of traffic. Once I exited at La Grange it is about 13 miles west to Route 9 and north to the FDR homestead. It always takes about one hour to drive the sixty miles from Tarrytown.


As I approached Springwood, FDR’s ancestral home on Route 9, which is located in an area called Crum’s Elbow on the Hudson, in the Village of Hyde Park, I looked across the old wheat fields that fronted the mansion. I always imagine how it looked to residents back in the days when the late President was in residence.


My first trip to Hyde Park was probably sixty years ago, and over the past forty years I have made numerous trips when ever time allowed. The big house, which was originally purchased by FDR’s father, James Roosevelt, in 1866, was called Brierstone. Over the next thirty-four years James Roosevelt continued to improve and enlarge the house. At James’ death in 1900, both his widow, Sara Delano Roosevelt, and his son Franklin regarded Springwood as their primary residence.  FDR was born there in 1882 and it hasn’t changed much since it was enlarged back in 1915, from an old Victorian villa into a mansion more than twice its former size. But over the past decade, or so, it has faced a number of challenges from fire and its natural aging, which one could expect from a building almost one hundred-fifty years old. FDR loved the sprawling estate, and in 1915, in his voter registration form, he listed his occupation as tree farmer. He had early on learned that the ground Springwood was built on had been raising corn for hundreds of years and that the top soil had been eroding and blowing into the Hudson. He noticed that his estate’s production per acre had also declined over the years, and he believed that the loss of trees and their root systems created more erosion and drier soil. Therefore, over his adult life-time, he planted over 20,000 trees there annually.


After turning left across Route 9, into the property, I parked at the Henry A. Wallace Visitor’s Center. This center, constructed and opened in 2003-4, has made a remarkable addition to the Roosevelt National Historical Site. Since its opening it has been the focal point of all the intellectual and social activity that goes on at the whole complex. In fact, the whole character of the site has been incredibly enhanced by the Wallace Center.


Upon entering the Wallace Center at 9:40 am I saw the director Cynthia Koch, at the podium, waiting to address the gathered throng, and I went over, said hello, and wished her good luck and hoping that day would move smoothly. Cynthia and her staff have this program, and its schedule, down to an art form, and this day was no different. Later I would again meet Cynthia as she was escorting Professor Alan Brinkley, the keynote speaker. I had recently met Professor Brinkley at the NY Historical Society, while he was hosting an event on FDR.


I also met Chris Breiseth, the former head of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and terrific guy, who has had a remarkable academic and intellectual career from his days at Cornell’s Graduate Studies program to his recent work with both the Roosevelt Institute and the Frances Perkins Center. While Chris was at Cornell working on his PhD studies in European History over in the School of Arts and Sciences, Frances Perkins was at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Chris and others invited her to come and live at Telluride House in the spring of 1960.  She remained until her death in May of 1965. He had one year with her in the Telluride House, 1962-63, after his return from Oxford University where he was from 1960 to 1962.  He actually arranged for the dinner in the spring of 1960 where he and others encouraged Miss Perkins to come and live with them and made the formal invitation.  She and Chris organized a seminar for house members with Henry Wallace in the spring of 1963 and worked with her the following year to do a similar seminar (over a weekend) with Jim Farley. 


By the way, I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Kirsten Downey, at this event a few years ago, who has written a wonderful biography of Ms. Perkins. Linda and I met her again in NYC at the Harvard Club when there was a symposium on the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Social Security legislation by President Roosevelt. There are always interesting and exciting people to meet at the FDR Library, especially when they host this event.


Chris was talking to Dr. Steven Lomazow, who with Eric Fettmann, of NY Post, has written a very controversial book about FDR’s health, sickness and cause of death. Before the publication of his book, I had read the reviews and had spoken to Dr. Lomazow, at length, about his conclusions. I also had interviewed Dr. Harry Goldsmith MD, on my program, The Advocates, , who I met at this event in 2008. Goldsmith’s research and book, The Conspiracy of Silence, The Health and Death of FDR,, had stimulated a great deal of interest in the medical connections between FDR and his doctors, Cary Grayson, Ross McIntire and Howard Bruenn, and the speculation that FDR suffered from and was affected by the affects of malignant Melanoma. Both Goldsmith and Lomazow focus on the extreme medical secrecy, regarding President Roosevelt’s health, and seem to feel his doctor’s action were unique. My sense is that all presidents have hidden their health challenges as defense mechanism against scurrilous political attacks, nit-picking and off-the-wall speculation regarding decision-making.

As to keeping his health information private, FDR knew who his opponents were and how vicious their tactics and actions could be. There are unlimited examples of their efforts, innuendos, lies, fabrications and character assassination for the sake of political gain. It seems that the authors relied upon the words and files of reporter and columnist Walter Trohan, the Limbaugh, Beck and Hannity of his day. FDR got along quite well with Trohan, even though he worked for the Chicago Tribune, and the author’s admitted that he was probably the source of much disinformation and under-handed criticism of the president. There is no doubt that FDR’s political enemies would use any edge to bring down his administration. FDR had an obligation to his millions of supporters who supported wholeheartedly his ideas and policies.

Of course, with Dr. Goldsmith’s research and medical experience, along with Lomazow’s long background in neurology, they make a specious case based circumstantial evidence that FDR’s powers of concentration, reasoning, and even judgment were impaired. Yes, he was sick, and there may have been multiple causes to his illness, but for sure, all evidence, from my perspective, was that he was perfectly aware of all that was going on, and that no other human knew what he knew and could deal as affectively with the problems of peace and war.


Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to meet all of the authors, or hear all of their talks. As we all know, it is impossible to be in more than one place at a time. I did get to meet and listen to Neil Maher, the author of Nature’s New Deal, the CCC and the Roots of the American Environmental Movement, Richard Breitman, author of Refugees and Rescue, the Diaries of James G. MacDonald, 1933-45, which reveals much of the background work FDR used to help Jewish refugees, Terry Golway, author of Together We Cannot Fail, FDR and the American Presidency in the Years of Crisis, who had been a guest on my radio show, on January 27, 2010, and Julie Fenster, author of FDR’s Shadow: Louis Howe, The Force that Shaped Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt,  This book is an excellent addition to the available literature on FDR’s close friend and associate Louis McHenry Howe. There is really only one other book on their relationship, Roosevelt and Howe, by Alfred Rollins. Lastly, I met Andrew Roberts, author of the most interesting book, Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West 1941-5.  I have read his book, which chronicles the lives and activities of Franklin D. Roosevelt, George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the US Army, Winston Churchill, and Field Marshall Alan Brooke, Great Britain’s Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and how they developed the strategy to win WWII in Europe. Both Neil Maher and Andrew Roberts are currently scheduled to be guests on The Advocates.  


At the end of the long, but interesting afternoon, Alan Brinkley, the Allan Nevins Professor of History at Columbia University, gave the keynote address. Brinkley is a graduate of Princeton University (AB) and received his Ph.D. from Harvard and is the son of long-time newscaster, the late David Brinkley. Below is the whole list of participants.


Glenn Altschuler and Stuart Blumin
The GI Bill: The New Deal for Veterans
Oxford University Press, 2009

Raymond Arsenault
The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America
Bloomsbury Press, 2009

Tonya Bolden
FDR's Alphabet Soup: New Deal America 1932-1939
Alfred A. Knopf, 2010

Richard Breitman
Refugees and Rescue: The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald, 1935-1945
Indiana University Press, 2009

Michael G. Carew
Becoming the Arsenal: The American Industrial Mobilization for World War II, 1938-1942
University Press of America, 2009

Debórah Dwork
Flight from the Reich: Refugee Jews, 1933-1946
W.W. Norton, 2009

Julie M. Fenster
FDR's Shadow: Louis Howe, The Force That Shaped Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt
Palgrave Macmillan, 2009

Terry Golway
Together We Cannot Fail: FDR and the American Presidency in the Years of Crisis
Sourcebooks MediaFusion, 2009

Steven Lomazow, M.D. and Eric Fettmann
FDR's Deadly Secret
PublicAffairs, 2009

Neil M. Maher
Nature's New Deal: The Civilian Conservation Corps and the Roots of the American Environmental Movement
Oxford University Press, 2007

Kristie Miller and Robert H. McGinnis
A Volume of Friendship: The Letters of Eleanor Roosevelt and Isabella Greenway, 1904-1953
Arizona Historical Society, 2009

Stephen R. Ortiz
Beyond the Bonus March and GI Bill: How Veteran Politics Shaped the New Deal Era
New York University Press, 2010

Hannah Pakula
The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-shek and the Birth of Modern China
Simon & Schuster, 2009

Thomas Parrish
To Keep the British Isles Afloat: FDR's Men in Churchill's London, 1941
Smithsonian Books, 2009

Andrew Roberts
Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941-1945
HarperCollins, 2010

Lauren R. Sklaroff
Black Culture and the New Deal: The Quest for Civil Rights in the Roosevelt Era
University of North Carolina Press, 2009

John Wukovits
American Commando: Evans Carlson, His World War II Marine Raiders, and America's First Special Forces Mission
New American Library, 2009


The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum is dedicated to preserving historical material and providing innovative educational programs, community events, and public outreach. It is one of thirteen presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. For information about the FDR Presidential Library call (800) 337-8474 or visit


The Gaza Story 6-8-10

I watched the story on Gaza, broadcasted on June 8, 2010, on the Evening News, and I found it incredibly one-sided, inaccurate, and patently ridiculous. You might as well have gone into an enemy city during WWII and discussed the lack of proportionality of the Allied bombing and the collateral destruction of their health care services. You conveniently ignored the fact that both Israel and Egypt jointly embargo goods directed towards Gaza. You forgot to mention that after the Israeli evacuation, the Hamas brigands looted the territory, destroyed whatever the Israelis left, and were able to smuggle bombs, small arms and rockets for their use against Israel. You highlighted the story of a small Arab child who was affected by the war initiated by his so-called government, but you conveniently forgot to mention the thousands of Arab children cared for by Hadassah Hospital and other medical facilities in a free and democratic Israel..


After 10,000 rockets were launched at Israel, retaliation in force ensued. What did Woodrow Wilson do about Pancho Villa’s raid into Texas? He sent Pershing and an army to find him. He didn’t find him, but there were no more bank robberies by Mexican warlords.


We are in Afghanistan because of the perceived threat to our national security. Why is Israel held to a different standard? Does Israel use human shields? No! Does Israel allow one million Arabs to live in peace with all the rights of citizenship? Yes! Hamas violated every article of the Geneva Convention, which included using religious edifices for artillery and hiding in neighborhoods to launch rockets. You shouldn’t report stories in the vacuum of historical ignorance.


You seemed to have had the time to devote some self-serving silliness regarding the Muppets. In this world of serious consequences and realities I am sure Walter Cronkite would have filled his 22 minutes with something more worthwhile than that claptrap!  


I have been a viewer of NBC’s Evening News since Tom Brokaw, and after tonight I may shift away to another station or cable network. Personally I am not some right-wing ideologue, but a registered active Democrat for almost fifty years.


Richard J. Garfunkel

Host of The Advocates

WVOX 1460 am radio,