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John Toland
John Toland
Captured By History
ISBN: 0312154909
Captured By History
In Captured By History, Toland offers new insights into the major events that shaped this tumultuous century, taking readers once again on an incredible historical and personal journey.
—from the publisher's website
Captured By History
Program Air Date: September 14, 1997

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: John Toland, author of "Captured by History," near the end of your book you say, `When I became a Communist I chose to -join the American peace mobilization. I picketed for peace in front of the White House and yet, like so many of my comrades in APM, I tried to enlist the day after Pearl Harbor.'
Mr. JOHN TOLAND (Author, "Captured by History: One Man's Vision of Our Tumultuous Century"): Mm-hmm.
LAMB: `Later I opposed the Korean War and publicly decried the Vietnam and Gulf wars.'
Mr. TOLAND: Yeah.
LAMB: Explain all that.
Mr. TOLAND: Well, I had learned in my life that the worst thing we had to face was war; that nobody won. And I have come to believe that this was the worst century of mankind because of it--the war--the wars that solved no problems, only developed new ones. And if this continues and we have another war, I think it's the end of the world because we have got now a gas, for example, that can wipe out other countries in a few days. I don't want that gas, and I have an idea it's already been sold to several countries.
LAMB: Go back to your statement about being a Communist. When were you a Communist?
Mr. TOLAND: Let's see, I was--I think I was about--I was out of Williams about four--four years, something like that, and I'd been traveling. I spent four summers riding freight trains and so forth and finding America at her best. I just loved riding freight trains and meeting all these wonderful people on the trains. There were no fights there. I'd heard about all the fights they had in the jungles, which were not called jungles by them. Everybody was helping everybody else. And these--most of them are young men that had left their farms because they wanted their sisters and mothers to have just enough money to eat, and they were out--and I was following them. We were working at--a week or so on--picking --one crop, then to another crop, and I followed them around. And I'll tell you, if you've ever tried to pick lettuce, believe me, that's a tough job.

And--but I found out they helped each other. There were--no animosity among them. The only people that they hated were the yard bulls that were in the yards. Now on the freight trains, the head of the freight train was called a conductor, by the way, and he had about five or six men. They were friends to these riders. They let them ride. Now there's certain--they'd have to lock up certain cars. Sometimes you'd have to ride on top in various places, but they were not brutal like the yard bulls. Once you got off, they'd start hitting you with clubs.
LAMB: But you had graduated from Williams College.
Mr. TOLAND: At the--I was still at Williams when I was riding.
LAMB: Riding the rails?
Mr. TOLAND: Yeah.
LAMB: But what was it about the Communist Party at that time? What was it like?
Mr. TOLAND: The Communist--well, when I got into the Communist Party, most of my friends in New York were Jewish and we were primarily against war. And we thought the Communists wanted really peace. We were taken in. And--for example, like most people don't realize is we had to stand in front of an American flag when we were made Communists and recite the oath to the United States. We were Americans and that was it. And then we found out this was a fake, that we had been taken in. But at this time we fought for peace, and that's why I was chosen as one of the two people to go down to Washington to picket the White House, which we had a marvelous time, by the way.

And would you like me to go on to what that meeting was like?
LAMB: Sure.
Mr. TOLAND: Well, I was known for the--my ability to work with anyone, so I traveled with blacks. And we got down there and I roomed in the same hotels as about 30 blacks were. And on the second--and what we were doing--we were just marching peaceably up and down, occasionally chanting a bit about peace and so forth, but nothing rowdy. And--but on the second day we were kicked out of our hotel because there were blacks. And we just didn't know what to do. We were there--unfortunately, our leader was from Hollywood, and we had no faith in him. And he was pompousing around. And all of a sudden I saw--you know where Blair House is? Right next to Blair House is an identical house--came this woman--stately woman, marching right up the avenue, ignoring the traffic as if she owned the whole place, came over to us and said, `I understand there were certain of you people that were not allowed in your hotels. Is that right?' And as--I told her, `Yes, there are about 30 of us.' And she said, `Are there people--Negroes, too?' I said, `Yes, most of us are Negroes.' She said, `Would you like to stay in my house for the next two days? I can only give you blankets to sleep on and so forth and have--we will have very slight stuff to eat.' And I said, `We would accept graciously.' And then she turned around. I've never seen a more noble woman. And this is a woman, if I'd seen her, I would say she was a reactionary and so forth and so on. Here she was offering her home to 30 blacks and one white.
LAMB: Who was it, did you know?
Mr. TOLAND: What?
LAMB: Who was the woman?
Mr. TOLAND: I don't know.
LAMB: And you stayed there.
Mr. TOLAND: I--we stayed there for the next two nights and she came down to see us and we had--we were sleeping on floors and things like that. But she was only there to greet us and not to inspect us.
LAMB: You left the Communist Party what year?
Mr. TOLAND: Oh, I left the--within two years I left the Communist Party because I saw I'd been had.
LAMB: Has that followed you through your life in any way? Does it ever pop up where it gives you trouble?
Mr. TOLAND: It would have--do you remember a character called the Ugly American. This man, Ugly American--I forget what his real name is--I had first met him when I was researching in the Philippines, and as usual, I was set up at Clark Fields and so forth, in a barracks there. And then the commanding officer there was quite upset because I had met some local people of--and getting great material from them, and I was told that we were to be writing about Americans in this war. And I said, `Sir, I'm writing a book about the war.' And they cut off my transportation.

I had to take a bus to the capital, and next--the capital--they usually treated me nicely. They kicked me right off--out. And I was standing there wondering what to do next and this man came up. It turned to be the Ugly American. And he said, `Are you the one that they won't give any transportation?' And I says, `Yes.' He said, `Would you like to meet the president of the Philippines tomorrow?' I said, `I sure would.'

He brought me to the--this big hall where the president was talking to the four military forces. Afterwards, he introduced me to the president who asked, `What are you here for?' And I said, `I've come to find out what really happened in the Philippines.' And he said, `I understand you have trouble,' and he pointed to this major, a very--who had gone to West Point, and said, `This man will be your guide.' This man found two people to take me--I was taken to all the islands. I saw everything I wanted to.

For example, when I was in the island that the second president of the Philippines was, I had been there 15 minutes and I got a call to go up and see him. And he has a Chinese name. I forget what his name was. But he said he heard I was there, and he wanted me to reveal something that he had been holding back all these years: that he had been second in command when the president of the Philippines we--went to America, and he was put in charge. And he was ordered by the president to pretend with four other of the top people in the country to work with the Japanese. And this would be to save the public from a--lots of problems and so forth. But he said --he was--he knew he was going to die within a year, and he wanted the truth told so that these people who had never talked would not be regarded as--they had been regarded as traitors to their country.

And I said--I promised I wouldn't publish this until after his death. And he said that--and as I was going out the door, about a half a dozen reporters were there and I--they were yabbering away and I said, `What's the matter?' They said, `Oh, haven't you heard? The--some dozen American senators and congressmen arrived in the capital yesterday and they were--were telling everybody what was wrong with the with the-- country,' and so forth and so on. And I said, `What do you think of that?' And I said, `Well, they might have waited a day.' And I left. And I didn't return to Clark Fields until two days.

I had somebody--and as I walked into the office, everybody stared at me coldly except--I had one friend, this girl, and I went up to her and she said, `John, why did you do that?' And I said, `Do what?' She said, `What you told the Communist Party and I'--she showed me the Communist newspaper and the headlines: American senators--something, something--cause of riots or something. And I said, `I didn't say--that at all.' And he said, `Do you realize that you're now being sent back to America? The commanding officer there--he's coming up--he's going to tell you have no--you're--you won't be able to'--I wouldn't be able to write my book.

Just as in a movie, who should walk in but the--the commanding general of the--of all the Air Force -- and the--in that area of the world and four people. And I had interviewed him in Hawaii before and he had given me a couple of great stories. And he looked and he saw me and he says, `Hi, John. What are you--how are they treating you over here?' And he said, `Would you like--we're going on to the next town, Hong Kong. We're on leave. And would you like to go with us?' And I said, `I sure would.'

When I got into the plane I told him the real story, and he--all he did was laugh, and he said, `May I give you some advice, John? Whenever you're asked a question by a newspaperman, say, "No comment."'

But I was always pulled out of these things at the last minute. I could--my career as a writer probably would have ended if he hadn't walked through the door.
LAMB: How many books have you written in your life that have been published?
Mr. TOLAND: I've--14. Two of them--two of them were we--novels, the rest were histories. And I'm...
LAMB: And what year in your life did you start writing?
Mr. TOLAND: Twelve. I started writing when I was 12. They say my father was--I thought everybody was either a painter or a writer. My mother was a painter; my father was a singer. And I was brought up like that and--but when I was 12 years old--see, my father was a big Irishman and he looked at my hands and he says, `My God, you have the hands of a--of a girl.' And I said, `Well, who made me?' And--and he didn't like that. But he loved me, but he-- saw me as a product of the Scotch part of the family, my mother's part.

Now the Scotch part, they were crazy about me. My--my mother had three sisters. None of them had children and, of course, I was their idol. And then their father--their grandfather--he was the one that really changed my life and he told me one thing. He says--he says, `John, I don't--you may hear a lot of things about religion, but there's only one thing I want you to do.' And I said, `What is that?' He says, `Always do the right thing.' And I says, `But, Dadda, how will I know whether it's the right thing?' He says, `Usually, it's what you don't want to do. But you'll find out.'

And this has become my religion and it still is. It's a very simple thing and it has led me through life. And, as I say, I've had a wonderful life and--some people notice that I was a failure until I was 45 years old, when I sold my first story. I had written 25 plays, none of them ever put on, but those plays became the reason I wrote a different kind of history because my great hero was Shakespeare and he said, `Unto thyself be true.'

Now this seemed very simple to me. And if you'll notice, Shakespeare had no point of view when he was writing his stories, and as this--Porter Emerson Brown, the great …told me--he said, `And the Greeks, also.' And so I was--I brought into history a non-ideological history, which means no point of view. And that's why a number of people are very unhappy with me because I treat all people the same. I don't care whether they're colored, I don't care whether they're Irish or Chinese or--I want to hear all sides and just...
LAMB: Where do you live today?
Mr. TOLAND: What? Beg pardon?
LAMB: Where do you live today?
Mr. TOLAND: I live in Danbury, Connecticut.
LAMB: Are you married?
Mr. TOLAND: My--this is my second wife. My first wife, I divorced after 10 years. And I--you'll notice her picture there, a beautiful girl. She's a dancer. Believe me, dancers live by their feet.
LAMB: Your first wife was a dancer.
Mr. TOLAND: My first--but I have two wonderful children from her, two daughters. And my second wife and I have a daughter and I have three...
LAMB: This your first wife right here?
Mr. TOLAND: That's my first wife. As I say, she was a beautiful woman and so forth. But I will say nothing about her bad in the book. I only tell how she was the one that--when I brought a black officer into the officers club at Kaiser Field when I was a second lieutenant, I was kicked out of my job, I was threatened, I was almo--beaten up and I--almost killed. She stuck by me. And so I--as I say, I will only say good things about her. My...
LAMB: And then your second...
Mr. TOLAND: My second wife, Toshiko, we married in 1960. I went to Japan to--I was doing a book, my first book on the East, hating all Japanese. And one day I found out I was beginning to like the Japanese. On the third day there I met Toshiko. I needed an interpreter. And when I saw her, I knew I was going to marry her. But first I had to tell her it was a rough life, you know, that we'd live, and that I was on the road about eight months of the year. And I think I'd been there--she became my interpreter in her--in the evenings, and on the ninth day I knew her I said, `Would you marry me?' And she instantly said yes.

And her father, who was a very noted man in that he spoke English with an Oxford accent, and he was a top samurai type and then he has been trying to marry her for 11 years and she was turning down everybody. And the--he and his wife were horrified to learn she was marrying an American writer. And a writer's the lowest form of life in Japan. And they couldn't see me for a long time. Finally, two days before our marriage, she--they finally agreed to see me. And he was asking me--he spoke this marvelous language and he's a rather big man for a Japanese and he says, `You've got a divorce,' and we went through all that. And after about five questions, the wife--who was very small--she looked like a little Buddha, and she said, `John, you will make Toshiko very happy.'

And then we breathed a sigh of relief. I gave him a dozen American golf balls, which are bigger than the others, and he became my greatest assistant. I could not have written the "Rising Sun" without him. He got me to the (Japanese spoken), who was the emperor's chief adviser. He knew everybody in Japan, and they all--people that refused to talk to me before and to talk to any American came right in. I was--I had-- allowed--I even had arranged an--a meeting with the emperor himself. and then at that point--you may have remembered that an Englishman wrote a book about the emperor just beating him to hell. He had come over for a week and then described it.

And so I was--they called--the Embassy called me and said, `I'm sorry. You cannot meet the--His Majesty.' And they said, `What--can we do anything else to help you?' And I said, `Yes, you can. I will forget this if you will allow me to interview the six gentlemen that serve the emperor.' These were people of high class, worked around--I got more about the emperor from these six men, all with these wonderful stories, personal stories of his quirks and queries. I've got about three pages of it in the "Rising Sun."

So I had always found out never go down defeated. There are some times you must retreat. Try to make a deal where you can get something out of it.
LAMB: Which one of your 12 non-fiction books sold the most?
Mr. TOLAND: Oh, the--"Adolf Hitler." That became a big best--it's still a best-seller. Guess who just bought it? Now the Chinese just bought it. Now it's been published in 25 countries. And this was a book that was turned down by my publishers of the "Rising Sun" who didn't particularly like the book.
LAMB: This is 1976, "Adolf Hitler"?
Mr. TOLAND: Yeah. And that's still a big best-seller. It's made a fortune and my--the publishers of the "Rising Sun" did not like it because I was making heroes, they said, of the Japanese. And they had complained--they published my book, "The Last Hundred Days," which was a--quite a good best-seller. And I had retreated a little because they objected to the way I made some Germans heroes and so forth.

But when I wrote the "Rising Sun," I saw that I had the truth because my wife and her whole family had brought me in, and now I felt I knew the whole truth and that-- I could not change a single thing. I had to go to New York something like 90 times and they kept yapping at me and I refused.

Well, I went off now, starting research on "Adolf Hitler" and passed them the contract on--you know, they turned it down. They said, `You have taken too much time of the editors; therefore, you must go down from 12 percent on the book to 8 percent.' And I'm half-Irish and you know what I told them, don't you?
LAMB: So "Adolf Hitler" is the best-seller.
Mr. TOLAND: Yeah.
LAMB: In time, since '76, how many copies has it sold?
Mr. TOLAND: Millions.
LAMB: A million copies.
Mr. TOLAND: Well, it--it's more--I don't know how many copies. All I know is that it's made $2 million. They lost $2 million...
LAMB: For you.
Mr. TOLAND: I think...
LAMB: You mean that $2 million came to you.
Mr. TOLAND: Yeah. I made--the first year I made $1 million and it kept--I don't know all the fig--I don't think about money, really. I can't see what it is. All I know is it made a hell of a lot of money.
LAMB: Well, let me ask you this. Have you ever totaled up the--of all the books you sold, how many books you've sold?
Mr. TOLAND: Oh, God, no. Once I finish a book--I'm not--like most authors. When I--the first book I finished, I may have--went to the Library of Congress, and I turned over all my material--my interviews and so forth and all the things I'd found out because I wanted this to be open for other people. Now this doesn't seem to make sense to some people. Now then when my books got better, the nation--they said they couldn't handle all the people that were coming in. And I had been working with the National Archives. They had always believed in me. And the people down there were marvelous to me.

And they'd heard about the fact that I was giving books away and they said, `We'd like you to send all your material now to the FDR library--presidential library.' And I said, `The presidential library? I tell you, I thought he was a bum, you know.' That has nothing to do with it. He goes, `Do you know we run those ourselves?' I didn't know that the National Archives--they see--they send down the people who run it and it's just known as that library. Since then I have sent all my tapes of every--whenever I finish a book and at--there was a time when I was offered money and some of my family said, `Why don't you take it?' And I said, `How can I take it?' I didn't think it was--see, I had been helped by so many people, and I think what--I think good writers want other people to follow them because I--no matter how good my books are, I think new information w--should come up and we want to keep the thing going.
LAMB: Is all of your--are all of your tapes at the FDR library?
Mr. TOLAND: Not all of them. I gave all of them that F--I also did--made copies of all of them and sent them to the Library of Congress because some of my people still thought I was--so I want the Library of Congress--so--and--now they're told--there are certain people--I say that, `You cannot use these --I promised they cannot be used until the man is dead, see?' But outside of that they're open to everybody, and I don't care what nationality.
LAMB: Did you say you think that FDR was a bum?
Mr. TOLAND: I think he was worse than that.
LAMB: Really?
Mr. TOLAND: Yes.
LAMB: Why?
Mr. TOLAND: Oh, well, when--I got to know his wife. She's a wonderful person. And you know, she saved my life. And I admired her greatly. Now her own family treated her miserably, but he treated her--he had three mistresses at a time and things like this. And I heard stories from around that--see, at first, he was my great hero. I thought he was a great hero.
LAMB: You first saw him when?
Mr. TOLAND: Oh, when I was in college, we used to come down through--from Williamstown down through the--in his town, you know.
LAMB: Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Mr. TOLAND: Yeah. And so we used to come down that road which goes right through his town. And, of course, I had seen him when he first ran for president, and I was in--a freshman at--at Williams College and he was driving through with the president of New York--with the...
LAMB: Governor.
Mr. TOLAND: ...governor of New York and the governor of Massachusetts. They were both Williams men. And they stopped there to talk, and the Williams students around there were 95 percent wealthy, you know. And they were booing the president, you know? And--well, at any rate, I was called I--my--I was naturally not in any fraternity. I was at the Commons Club where already I had changed their whole way of carrying trays. I have gone to Exeter, where we had to carry two--we had two tables of eight. Here we had only one table of eight and they were carrying the trays like this.
LAMB: You were a waiter.
Mr. TOLAND: I was a waiter. See, I was offered the--when I went to Exeter, I graduated and I was offered--because of my grades, I was offered free at--four years free at Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth and so forth. And our president of Exeter called me and he'd never spoken to me in my two years there. See, after I graduated from Norwalk High School, I realized that I could never make it at college unless I went to a place like Phillips Exeter Academy to learn how to really study.

And so I had loved my two years there. And when I graduated, as--I had offers from four of these places, and the--our president called me in and says, `Toland,' he said, `I hear you have all these offers. I'd like you to make one for my college. It's a little college called Williams College.' And he says, `You're going to love it because it's a rich man's college and you'll be the poorest boy that ever went there.' And he says, `I don't know how you did it, but I know you made more money here at Exeter than anyone ever made.'

I was--had three jobs and I was selling things. And I knew how to make money. And so I said, `Fine. I accept.' And I went there and he--and also he said, `They also have a wonderful system, better than they have at Harvard. I know you want to be a writer. Do you know that when you become a junior, if you're getting very high marks, you can have what we call honors work. You can work with any professor you want in the school yourself. You're the only one in the class. Now if you really get high grades, you'd have double honors work.'

So I knew I could--I went there. I knew I had to make money to because after I was going to Williams, the college, I had heard that this famous George Pierce Baker--remember, he was--he started Harvard and he trained some of the best playwrights in the country. And then he had been lured down to open up the Yale Drama School and he was running this thing, which--it was a three-year course. And they wouldn't have any--I could--I'd have to pay--it'd cost me something like $20,000. So I had to not only make all my stuff, but I had to make $20,000 in the meantime so I could go there. And he said, `Knowing you, you're going to make it.' And I accepted on the spot. It was true.

As I say, when I first went down there, they sent me over to the--I had a job working with--at the Commons Club and I couldn't stand, seeing people riding through--and when they'd go out in the kitchen, they'd have to bump past--their way through the door and ma--and I said, `Why don't you learn how'--and I sho--that's where I got my nickname of Shifty. I could shift around. And, unfortunately, I was a hated man among the fraternities because they heard all these stories about me and so forth and so on. Not only that but, see, there were about 20--I had to have about 20 extra waiters which worked in the fraternities during the seasons. And what happened is that at this --they suddenly cut the fees in half, and these 20 men came to me and said, `What will we do?' And I said, `We strike.' And I told them to just cut it out.

Well, we beat them to it, and they had--and then they came--and I said, `But you must all stick together,' and they all agreed to stick together. And then--so the fraternities said, `All right. You can have the same.' And I says, `No, we want half more, see?' Well, I made the damn fraternities pay and they never forgave me for it.
LAMB: Let me go back to FDR. You said that FDR was a bum. May...
Mr. TOLAND: Well, I wouldn't--`bum' is not the word. Unsavory.
LAMB: Unsavory. Well, let me ask you about the book "Infamy."
Mr. TOLAND: "Infamy," yes.
LAMB: When did you write "Infamy," and why did you get such criticism?
Mr. TOLAND: Well, in the first place, I made a terrible mistake when I wrote the "Rising Sun." I stated from all the--everybody said Roosevelt did not know that the Japanese task force was coming, you know. And within...
LAMB: At Pearl Harbor.
Mr. TOLAND: At Pearl Harbor. Well, within a year, I began to get letters from top people in the US Navy saying, `That's nonsense. We knew.' Well, I went on for about 10 years with this and getting more and more. And, like, the relatives of those--you know, those people who headed the Navy that their lives were ruined by all this--I forget the names of them, but that whole family...
LAMB: Sullivans?
Mr. TOLAND: N...
LAMB: Five Sullivan boys?
Mr. TOLAND: No--no, not them. It was this other--it was a higher-class family, and the whole family's been ruined by this and they became my best friends. And--so, as I say, I told Toshiko, who's very smart--I says, `I've got to write this because I've made a terrible mistake.' And she said, `John, if you do, it's the biggest mistake you've ever made. They're going to kill you on it,' and she was right. They just--I found out the facts not only from these people in the US Navy but, for example, the man in the--Dutch--the Dutchman whom--I had heard a Dutchman was conc...
LAMB: Dutch admiral?
Mr. TOLAND: He--he was not an admiral.
LAMB: At the time, but he went on to be an admiral.
Mr. TOLAND: He became an admiral finally--that I heard about him, but nobody knew where he was. And I advertised around, then I got a letter; it was from the admiral. He was living in Texas at the time. I was down there the next day.
LAMB: Retired in Texas.
Mr. TOLAND: He was retired. He had me at his hotel and he--he was not--he had to be helped around. He was not senile, he was just a --had a hard time getting around, and his son was always with us. Also, I had him taped. I was called a liar. I was--for example, this guy that got killed in an airplane crash recently, his main theme in life was to try to ruin me, and he claimed that I lied about all these things and so forth and so on. I just don't understand these people that come up with these things trying to ruin you.
LAMB: But you said, though, in "Infamy" that FDR knew about the Pearl Harbor thing in advance.
Mr. TOLAND: Oh, yes, absolutely. And I--then I told my wife I had to--I had to delve into this. I delved not only into the--these top families, the naval families that knew all this, but I got this Dutchman told me the inside story. He was the one that secretly brought the Bofors anti-aircraft gun to the US Navy. So he was an--I don't know--what do you call these peo--they don't fight, they're--they just work in various cities. They're not fighters as much as planners, and he was the planner down in Washington. And therefore...
LAMB: Planners for the Dutch?
Mr. TOLAND: Yeah. And see, he had friends in the American Navy and he heard that we needed the Bofors guns, the--so they came to him and he secretly--he got the--he knew were there were-the plates and everything that you could design the gun for--he got it through his own plans. And, of course, this raised hell with the--this--the reason that we were not defeated afterwards at--you know, in the great battle out there. And this man told me the inside story and I got--they knew all about the fact that--Roosevelt knew that the Japanese...
LAMB: Why would a Dutch military man know the inside story?
Mr. TOLAND: Because he was working with--he was the one that brought that to the US Navy, see, and so he was--they regarded him as their best fri-we later made him an honorary...
LAMB: Citizen?
Mr. TOLAND: or whatever it is they give this. He later got the highest award you can give to a foreigner.
LAMB: Go back--go back to the--one of the themes in your book are that every time you--you'd write a new book, the Book of the Month Club would pick the book...
Mr. TOLAND: Yeah.
LAMB: ...but then the judges would overrule them.
Mr. TOLAND: Oh, yeah.
LAMB: Tell--how often did that happen and why did they overrule them? How'd that work?
Mr. TOLAND: Well, the--this happened, I think, five times. They didn't like me personally.
LAMB: Why?
Mr. TOLAND: Because I was writing things that they didn't --you know, I'm very outspoken and I say exactly what I think and so forth. And I'd say, `I have facts behind me, too,' and this irritates them. But for some reason, they disliked me. I could not understand this. But I was turned down five times by them.
LAMB: But how did that work? The -- who would select it and who would turn you down?
Mr. TOLAND: Well, see, they would select so many people and then they would vote on it, but that's why I never got Book of the Month Club. I was always one--but as soon as they dumped me, some other book club would pick it up, you know, so...
LAMB: But if you sold a million copies of the Adolf Hitler book...
Mr. TOLAND: Yeah.
LAMB: ...were there any other books that sold lots like that?
Mr. TOLAND: Well, I know "The Last One Hundred Days" sold a lot of books.
LAMB: How many?
Mr. TOLAND: Gee, I don't know. I never co...
LAMB: Hundreds of thousands or--you know, they...
Mr. TOLAND: Oh--oh...
LAMB: Has this all made you a wealthy man?
Mr. TOLAND: Yeah, but you see, what people didn't realize--like, I made a lot of money on the--"The Last Hundred Days," but then my next book was going to be on the Japanese war and I needed money, and so I spent all the money I made on that to--see, I don't work like other people. I spend about two years researching, going all over the world, and, you know, it costs money to go around the world. And then "The Last Hundred Day"--the book on Japan, you know...
LAMB: "Infamy"?
Mr. TOLAND: No. You know, I have a problem...
LAMB: "Rising Sun"?
Mr. TOLAND: The "Rising Sun," yeah. The "Rising Sun" won all the prizes and--but I spent all the money I made on the "Rising Sun" to do this--I had this terrific idea about Hitler, I said--I had, by this time, got to know the--all the intimate groups within Germany that would talk to me, but it--you know, it costs a lot of money. And I put all I had also saved $100,000 and many of my friends in Washington had been making money through a man that was investing for them, and they said, `Please put your money there.' I put $100,000 in. Three months later I got a report. You know how much of my $100,000 was left? Zero.

So I had some very wealthy friends in the town and they sent me to their lawyers, who--these lawyers only work with the richest people in the world and, you know, this famous place refused to take a cent from me for the next five years, handling me, and I was getting help and they finally, this young man got this loan for me, which he never wanted repaid, which I did, but he--they finally--we got enough money so I could start and go back into work, and I threw all that money into--this is my big book--on Hitler.

And by the time I finish it--you see, I didn't have any money, see. But when "Hitler" came out, it came out with a bang, and within a month, you know, I had everything back. From then on I've had--so as I say, I made a lot of money on these other books, but I would throw it all in on the next book to come, see. But at the same time, you see, I was also helping--I've--I have children, I was helping them build their houses and so forth and so on. So when it came down to how much I had, it was zero.
LAMB: Let's recap, though. Born in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Mr. TOLAND: Yeah. Yeah.
LAMB: Live now in Danbury, Connecticut.
Mr. TOLAND: Yeah.
LAMB: Went to Exeter?
Mr. TOLAND: Exeter.
LAMB: Where's that located?
Mr. TOLAND: In Exeter, New Hampshire.
LAMB: Williams College graduate in 1932.
Mr. TOLAND: Uh-huh.
LAMB: Spent time in the Army for how long?
Mr. TOLAND: I was three and a half years during the war, and that was a time I had----originally, I wanted to be a glider pilot because I was too old to be a pilot. So I went down there and I was accepted by the gliders and I was in Texas for about five months, and then all of a sudden came the report that--the first report of what happened in Asia, something like 90 percent of them sent over were killed. There's no place to land there. And so there were about 30 of us there and we were--all said, `We're not taking any more glider pilots.' So I said to hell with it and I went to Fargo, South--North Dakota, to become an officer, and I became an officer there.
LAMB: But you didn't serve overseas during the military?
Mr. TOLAND: No. And this--I wanted--I felt guilty that I had never been over there and that's one reason I write my books.
LAMB: Dorothy, your first wife, you married in what year?
Mr. TOLAND: That was--must have been...
LAMB: 1943, I believe.
Mr. TOLAND: I believe it was '43, yes. Uh-huh.
LAMB: And you had two daughters.
Mr. TOLAND: Two daughters.
LAMB: Are they still alive?
Mr. TOLAND: They're still alive and they--the oldest daughter has a son and a daughter, and the youngest daughter has a daughter.
LAMB: And you married Toshiko in 1960?
Mr. TOLAND: 1960.
LAMB: Had a daughter by her in 1968?
Mr. TOLAND: Yes, right.
LAMB: And her name?
Mr. TOLAND: Is Tamico.
LAMB: And where does she live?
Mr. TOLAND: She lives in New York, and I'd like to explain that Tamico in Japanese means `daughter of God,' and she is a very self-made person. And she knew that I love Russian literature, and I have many friends in Russia and so forth, and, you know, she got--she went to a school--she learned Russian, she got to speak it fluently. She went to a university that majored in it, Cornell. She spent a whole semester in-- Russia and so forth and so on. And then my friends in Russia, when she was out, she was going to go there, they told me, `Please get her out,' because they were having problems there. So she never did work in--there, but--and she's now in in--Oh, what the devil is this?--they make this stuff in--around New York state--you know, I can't think of what it was they make.
LAMB: Well, let me go on...
Mr. TOLAND: An--anyway, she's in this--she's in this business now which rather--her mother was shocked to hear she's working in this kind of work. But what I did--I went up to meet her boss and so forth, and I found out she was doing well and so forth, but I warned her. I said, `He's a cheapskate,' and he still is. But she's on her own now and doing very well, I think.
LAMB: You won your Pulitzer when you were fifty-f--nine years old...
Mr. TOLAND: I don't--I guess so.
LAMB: ...and you're now how old?
Mr. TOLAND: I'm 85. Eigh--ei...
LAMB: Will you write another book?
LAMB: Why not?
Mr. TOLAND: I have nothing more to say. I think--this book--you see, I''m working with a dozen younger writers that are--they're--I was helped by older writers. Well, what most people don't realize is that in our business, if you're really good, you want somebody following you. And I have many famous people reading my plays and so forth and trying to get me--I almost sold two of my plays, but they didn't work. But I realized my--in the 25 plays I'd written, I'd learned something about --a play has a beginning, a middle and an end, and this is something that history doesn't have. I brought to history my knowledge of what should be life, and also, that you should have no point of view. See, Shakespeare told me that. He said, `Unto thyself be true.'

And so I actually believed what Shakespeare told me, and then when I was only about 12 years old, this drunken playwright came to live with us and he taught me playwriting. And he'd been a famous playwright and he'd written--his most famous play was called "The Bad Man."
LAMB: Porter Emerson Brown...
Mr. TOLAND: Porter Emerson Brown.
LAMB: ...who you say is kind of your mentor, hero?
Mr. TOLAND: He was my hero. And see, he was a little guy. He just adored my father, who was a big, handsome man --and when his wife died, he took to liquor and my father saw him drunk downtown and brought him home and he says, `I'm going to dry him out.' It took almost three years, but he did, and during that time, Porter became my best friend. And I heard all about this wonderful play--his most famous play was called "The Bad Man," in which--this was about Pancho Villa, but as he told me, he said, `The bad man, actually, in the play turns out to be a good man.' And he said, `If that were straight, it never would have been successful.' As a comedy, this was the biggest hit on Broadway in three years. And then I says, `Well, why did you write about Pancho Villa?' He says, `I rode with him for three years.' He says, `Maybe--you say he was a terrible person.' He says, `Maybe he was a terrible American, but he certainly was a good Mexican.' And he says, `I rode with him and he was an honorable man.' And he said, `That's why the play was good.'
LAMB: One of the things I noticed in your book is that you often write how The Washington Post was...
Mr. TOLAND: Oh, they hate me.
LAMB: Yeah.
Mr. TOLAND: I bet they gave me a lousy review of...
LAMB: Have you seen the review they gave you yesterday?
Mr. TOLAND: No. I understand it was the usual. This--you know, that guy's been after me for years.
LAMB: The guy that wrote it--and I'll have to get his name here--he's a guy that's also written a book on Hitler. His name is Clay Blair.
Mr. TOLAND: Clay Blair, Jesus...
LAMB: Second volume of Hitler's U-boat war will be published next spring. Here's what he said about your book.
LAMB: He said, `Toland's autobiography is a candid but pedestrian recounting of his long struggle to reach the top--odd job by odd job, wife by wife, agent by agent, publisher by publisher, editor by editor, book by book, including several failures. It teems with lunches, trips, dates, interviews and summaries of his books. Toland and his editors, collaborators produce some fine and some not-so-fine popular military history, but regrettably, he is apparently unable to summon up the drama of his own life.'
Mr. TOLAND: Well, I expected it.
LAMB: Why?
Mr. TOLAND: Because they hate my guts.
LAMB: Why?
Mr. TOLAND: Well, you see, I used to review for The Washington Post, and when my book "Infamy" came out, the two girls that ran it called me up and said, `John, they've taken your book away from us. It's being reviewed by the editorial department.' Now since when does the editorial department--and they gave it a terrible review. Of course, that was the end of my--of my life as a you couldn't have written a rottener one, but it--I expected it from them. And did you read The Washington Times review?
LAMB: Haven't seen it. When was it in? Yesterday?
Mr. TOLAND: They ga--terrific. Of course, ...
LAMB: But why would they--in your opinion, why would they give you a terrific review over The Washington Post?
Mr. TOLAND: Because they liked it. I review for them, too, by the way. But you see, I don't take The Washington Post seriously. I knew they'd say something like that or worse. I thought it'd be worse than that.
LAMB: Where do you end up today politically?
Mr. TOLAND: Politically? I work up with myself. You know, I'm--I'm supposedly a Republican, but I've always I--the last times I've ever voted, I've voted Democratic because it was a little better. But...
LAMB: How long ago was that?
Mr. TOLAND: Oh, I don't know, maybe four years ago. But and you see, I've worked so long in Washington that I've realized this is one of the worst cities in the United States so much crookedness going on there. And I've tried to reveal some of those things they won't publish. For example, I wrote a whole series on the fact of--we run our government on a false basis which is called `the rider basis.' You know what a rider is. You go to somebody and say, `Look, I will vote for this bill if you will do something--this.' That's a rider.

Now some of these things have 10 pages of riders on it, has nothing to do with the poor thing you're trying to bring into organization. How--that's a hell of a way to run a country. And I--there are some honest people down there, yes, but they're having a tough time. And look at our presidents. You know, the one president I liked was Truman, and when I first went out to meet him, we started by hating each other's guts because I had just discovered from the US Navy and other people that there was no need to drop the atomic bomb.

The so-called fear of this huge amount of--this--the greatest fighting force had been in China, and they were supposed to go to--back to Japan and--and raise hell for us. The US Navy informed me this is not true. We sank them--they all were sent not there, they had been sent to the Philippines, and we sank three-quarters of their ships. I got this from the US Navy. And so I just let things out like that and it--then it starts--and eventually, the truth comes out that there was no need to drop that bomb.
LAMB: Your--one of your techniques you write about in here is that every time you interviewed someone and you were going to quote them, you allowed them to see the quote...
Mr. TOLAND: Of course.
LAMB: advance...
Mr. TOLAND: Yes.
LAMB: ...and correct it?
Mr. TOLAND: They can delete it, correct it.
LAMB: And you never worried about them taking a story out that you wanted to tell just because they didn't like the way it came out?
Mr. TOLAND: No, I don't care. If they did--look, I gave my word and I never broke it. And you see, when I went over--this started in Germany and I started meeting people who knew Hitler, and I found a new Hitler and so forth, and I found out all these things. I've--for example, I found Eva Braun's best friend. And a friend of mine had written a book about this woman--I forget what her name is--and t...
LAMB: Schneider?
Mr. TOLAND: Schneider, yes. And...
LAMB: Herta Schneider?
Mr. TOLAND: Yeah, Hert--that's exactly it. How'd you know that?
LAMB: I read your book.
Mr. TOLAND: Oh. You know, unfortunately, I've forgotten the book. What happened was--so I wrote to Ms. Schneider and she was being polite, says, `You should come up to see me,' but she was planning to tell me to go to hell. Now I got into my German car and I started out--it was early winter, cold as hell, and the windshield--it started to snow and rain at the same time, and the windshield wiper stopped. I had to--this was a trip that would take about 45 minutes, it took me three hours. I had to get out of the car about 50 times to wipe it off.

When I got to their door, I was soaking wet. Her husband came and--a very fine man, by the way--he looked at me and I was just so heated, `Better come in quickly.' And then he brought his wife out and she was stern, and then she saw me and then she became motherly. And --I was treated like--like the boy that--and they got me clean clothes. They made me wear their clothes and so forth and so on. And then he said to me, `Get her to show you the pictures,' and I didn't know what he meant.

And I says, `Your husband mentioned something about pictures.' `Oh, you mean the pictures that I have of Eva Braun and so forth?' she said. `Would you like those?' I said, `I certainly would.' If you've read the--seen my book on Hitler, you'll see a number of the pictures there that had never been seen before that--she just gave me all these pictures, these marvelous pictures. One I particularly like--I don't know if I published it or not. Anyway, it's a--a beautiful picture of Eva--she's naked, but it's--you don't see anything. It's a very artistic picture.

And she let me have that, and I have it--I had all these pictures and so forth and I didn't do a thing. And I believed that somebody's helping me. There must be. So many things have happened to me like--you remember--I tell about--I had to go to Exeter and so--I had to make money so I worked in the Norwalk Tire and Rubber Company as the boy running around--and I was thinking of my stories, and I fell down an elevator shaft because a guy had forgotten to pull the fence.

And all I--I remember is, boy, I was stunned, and then I heard this grinding noise and I looked up and it was coming down. I am notoriously slow. I am notoriously--look at my hands. The young man that had--coming down when he was shocked. He saw me standing in this one place I could have leaped into. In my ordinary days, I couldn't have climbed into there. I don't know how I got there. What did it?

But this has happened to me--I've had about five or six clashes with--I walked into Lake Okeechobee when I was two years old, went over my head, and my uncle had to jump down from his room and pull me out. I was always climbing out on roofs when I was a baby and I was--and once I cli--when I was a year old, I was in my diaper and I had gotten my father's hat, which came over my nose, and I was walking up to the railroad--the trolley tracks, and my mother said that this trolley almost ran me down. Their conductor came out and went up to the--my mother and said, `Mrs. Toland, does this belong to you?' But somebody was always saving me.
LAMB: What are you going to do now that you've decided not to write anymore?
Mr. TOLAND: I want to help my children, naturally. I just--have you ever been to Block Island? It's a wonderful place because there automobiles come in last and the first...
LAMB: Where is it?
Mr. TOLAND: What?
LAMB: Where is it?
Mr. TOLAND: Block Island is off Providence. You--it takes about 90 minutes to go by ferry boat over there and it's not a big place, but I tell you, it's a wonderful place. While I was over there, I met about six people I've known for years just out of the blue meeting these people. But I liked it because everybody is polite. And, like, in cars, if--they're--they have one policeman, I think, in the whole place or something like that, and he drives slowly.

But the first people think of are the pedestrians and then the bicyclists and so forth, and then cars come in last. And I've noticed with cars, when you come up to a four-way place, there'll be about four cars, every car is waiting for the next one politely. You've never seen--and this--there's no signs. They have stop signs and that's about all, but no traffic lights or anything. Nobody--nobody was hurt and so forth.

And I just like the whole idea of people thinking of other people and I--that's what I think -and then--now they say, `Oh, John, you know, there are a lot of millionaires on there and they're making it'--I don't care who's doing it. Whatever it is, it's a--I recommend it highly for people that want to spend a quiet holiday.
LAMB: How well do you think this will sell and how many books did they print, first printing?
Mr. TOLAND: I have no idea. I'm getting a lot of letters from people that--so many people write me about it and I hope it sells well.
LAMB: Our guest has been John Toland and the book is called "Captured By History." We thank you very much for joining us.
Mr. TOLAND: Thank you.

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