This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Maurice Dolbier welcomes journalist Janet Flanner, Genet, to the podium to introduce David Schoenbrun, author of the biography "The Three Lives of Charles De Gaulle." Schienbrum pays tribute to the other speakers on the dais, and makes connections between his work and theirs. He then tells several funny stories relating to De Gaulle. He speaks of De Gaulle's perception of his own ancestors. He makes it clear that he does not believe another war such as World War II will ever happen again, and that the men who took part in the war were also completely unique.
Next, Dolbier introduces publisher Bennett Cerf, author of "Laugh Day." He reminds the audience that laughter is very important.Cerf notes that he believes American's under rate themselves - he tells a couple of stories about the nice people he has met during his travels around the country. The first story is about the president of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and an instructor's five year old son. The next story takes place at the Neiman Marcus in Dallas, TX. He encourages people to help one another and be kind. He endorses John Lindsay at the end of his speech.
Finally, Barbara Tuchman, author of "The Proud Tower," a book describing the world before the first World War. Several references are made to another of her books, "The Guns of August." She discusses the role of the historian. She laments the use of the term "non-fiction" to describe her work, and wishes that the term "realitor" had not be taken by those who work in the sale of land. She takes exception to the dictionary definition of fiction, which places imagination at odds with fact. She discusses the elements of writing: language, structure.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71336
Municipal archives id: T1741
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
The first announced speaker at today's luncheon is going to be introduced by an unannounced speaker but it's my privilege and pleasure to introduce now she was born in Indianapolis she attended the University of Chicago she was she says a rebellious influence in college she has also said she was probably the first cinema critic ever invented She has written one novel called the cubicle city which is translated several works including two books by call it she is a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and she has been decorated with a liaison don't know if this still makes a mystery guest but it's cleared up the mystery immediately the first letter from Paris appeared in The New Yorker in one hundred twenty five the year of that magazine's founding over the pen name John a name given out by New York at the Herald Ross without Jesus as his having asked her first she has been everybody's favorite Paris correspondent for over forty years and a selection of her reports over the past two decades has recently been published by Athenaeum under the title Paris journal or other books include an American in Paris and men and money men and in totality her works constitute a simple social political intellectual and artistic history of modern France it is my honor to present to Miss Janet Fina Johnny. I've been given the. If you did not know. My way of. Doing. This and C.B.S.. From the very new. Which in one manner of speaking you. The French political situation was so unstable so much of the. Thank you that that is to be relied on every so often for a headline you always the same you always the same headline little strange French government fall France once again without a government Schoenborn always knew why the eighteen governments during the eleven years of the Fourth Republic and our hopeless the politicians hope. For more stability because they knew all the political parties cheese his mind must have been like an address book of their characters and weaknesses as a former teacher in New York where he was born a romance languages show in Britain was stealing the only foreign broadcaster a reporter in the American press section of pedals who speaks perfect French which means that he could sing perfectly in. That he would follow the French political brain and its rather tortuous developments between pride and confusion between Fred Baron revolutionary notion and extreme conservatism about money Schoenborn French was so classy that he could even interview General to go with relative. A chief of state to his land which is magnificently seventeenth century shown guns acquaintance with the goal began during the war in London and that's included the opinions on the proud Celtic desired Frenchman as its best but was in charge of the General Eisenhower and up which were very illuminating as is shown by Sion brand new and important book The Three Lives of chance of gold which brings him in person before the when I left matters stand days ago there are already twenty four books in French written by French on the goal published over the last few years. Which will appear in translation that. Would be unlikely. It will deal with not only in the nation. But also. Seen. Geographic perspective on the balance of the. Medical report is brain the analytical brains of David Cheney it will be a different book. The the. Dear Janet. One of the great influence as a bar my career as a youngster in high school here in New York I read the letters of. And also the pieces written by Cicely Huddleston in the London Times which decided me that one day I would have a career as a foreign correspondent Paris thanks to Adolf Hitler I managed it the war broke out he made a lot of charisma to him. And today I find myself speaking to you. In one of the really great moments of my life it is a matter of tradition and of common courtesy for a speaker to say how happy he is to be with you today I'd like to begin by saying this partly because I believe in the tradition of common courtesy one of the more common commodities of our life and also because I mean it quite sincerely What more could an author ask than to be here at this distinguished forum in front of such a very large group of sellers and buyers of books and also to be here with two of the most. Justly renowned talents of our times Barbara Tuchman Bennett's Earth this is my first but I hope not my last meeting with Bob or Tuchman I've known Bennett of course for a very long time I first met Bennett in Paris I'm sure he's forgotten the incident at a cocktail party shortly after the liberation of Paris given by one of his authors Erwin Sean and Erwin who had been in the Army with me had said David come to the party you can meet Bennett's servant maybe you can get a chance to write a book on friends for Bennett and so I met Ben at the party and sure enough my hopes were realized Bennett I had a chance to talk to him and Bennett said I've been listening to your broadcast on C.B.S. And I know that you know everybody in Paris and I'd like to ask you a very important question do you know anybody who can write a good book on France. That is why I became a Harper's author. Because Mike Betsy who had also been with me long before in Algiers and even long before that I'd like to pay special tribute to my oldest friend the first producer of my radio programs because I began broadcasting in French not in English for the Office of War Information for an absolutely wonderful day named Conny Ernst who's sitting right down there Mrs Michael Bessie and I'm among all friends today and I means quite a lot to me and Bennett is one of the oldest even though I didn't really know anybody who could write a book for him on friends I've known Bennett many of his. Various incarnations and appropriately enough Bennett and Barbara Tuchman both all know this but my book is very closely related to their And so it's a very special privilege for me to be speaking to you today with both of them I've known Bennett is a publisher. As a television personality now isn't author on the platform today and as you know there were rumors in our business some months ago that Random House was going to merge with C.B.S. and I made a bet with old friends of mine of C.B.S. Bennett that if it did that next spring you'd be playing third base for the Yankees however didn't work out that way it wasn't C.B.S. it was R.C.A. that finally emerged with a random house and I can tell you why the R.C.A. engineers went to the board of directors and said we would like to get random house in order to have Bennett served to study the only living human guided missile and so I find myself here with Bennett who also appropriately is done a book which is very appropriate to my own and Ben and I hope someday that you will do an anthology on the wit of the statesman of the world and if you do I think you'll find that you'll have many chapters devoted to Charles to go for although most of us Americans don't find him very funny and he hasn't done anything to make us laugh in twenty five years he really is a very witty man I'd like to tell you a few stories about Charles de Gaulle for the benefit of my friend Bennett served and his anthologies to go has a very special a special French kind of wit it's Gallic it's sharp it's biting it's not genial like Anglo-Saxon Europe I want to my favorite stories was told me by the Baron alleviate the Shah who was the goals right hand man a kind of a Pierre Salinger at the end he's a palace. Who one day was on the phone trying to get some people having great difficulties the telephone in Paris is a very unreliable instrument and either there's no doing that each day you can't get a buzz on the phone or people are busy or you get disconnect in the middle of a conversation and he had a number of these things happen to him and finally in total exasperating one moment he took the phone slammed it down and shouted out in French Open which I can roughly translate and clean up as death to all fools and just at the moment that he shouted death to all fools and slammed the phone down he didn't realize that the president was walking behind him about to go to the office and with perfect rhythm and sense of timing general the goal as you heard back home to shout Death to all fools leaned down and said to him what a vast program my friend. This may not be as good as the joke that you quoted of John Daly on the show last night Bennett but coming from the goal or rather a doorman I think it is one of his saving graces. One day when to go was elected president of the Republic early in one nine hundred fifty nine he gave after the parliamentary elections the traditional reception for the newly elected members of Parliament and I was standing there with three other selected reporters were a pool of reporters and we were put behind the rubber upon the eddies a palace which is the place to which reporters are relegated there as indeed they now are in Washington. And at least critical reporters a put behind the rubber Palm. And. I saw on the line a deputy from the district who had run on an anti to go platform and he was one of the few and to go to East who had been elected and I could see this little man sweating as he was about to approach the president of the Republican to be congratulated upon his election and I could see him and other reporters to see him trying to figure out what to say and he was very nervous and trembling and covered with desperation and he finally arrived and started out as he took the gold. Mr President my my wife is a great goal East to go look down upon him and said What a coincidence. So is mine. The gold not only has a sense of humor but he is often the butt of jokes and he can stand for it there are two or three that I recall one of which I heard recently I'll tell you about in just second but one that I remember back in the days of the Casablanca conference when President Roosevelt who was always poking fun at the gold had spread the word that the goal had a Joan of Arc complex thought he was Joan of Arc and Harold Macmillan it was a representative of the British at the time so the prime minister Mr Churchill and he said to Mr Churchill you know Joan of Arc think Charles of all things he's Joan of Arc and Mr Churchill no. Bloody bishops won't let me burn him. Just to show you what the atmosphere what the atmosphere is in France let me tell you of the political cartoon political got doing which ran in the paper about the place for weeks five weeks ago and I was in Paris covering the election campaign by Jack who is the great cartoonist of the goal and it surely is one of the great political cartoons of all times and the fact that it's an example of how free a society France is even under the dominant personality of Charles de Gaulle I don't think a cartoon like this could really have run in the American press. But it was just after the Goes humiliating defeat of the fifth of December when he failed to get a majority of the people to vote for him and he had to face a reelection and in fighting for the reelection he had consented for the first time to be interviewed on television he was interviewed my my friend Michel da three nights in a row and Michelle asked him some very difficult questions and the girl answered and answered very well and he carried out with the French called us your subjects you know and he did everything you could to suggest the French people and job fairs on a place came out with this absolutely marvelous cartoon that showed of a kind of a seaside. Bedroom probably wasn't dozy and you see in a moment why that's the way we live in French society and in this Deauville bedroom rather bleak there was an open valise drawn on the floor and in it were a pair of rather very large size thirteen slippers and next to it some very small size one a slippers very frilly petticoats and lace and a little Brazil and next to this was a chair and sitting on the chair was a huge man very tall and rather ugly man with a tiny little head and a big nose looking somewhat like a frightened pregnant kangaroo and sitting on his lap was a cute young thing very French baby doll type and she had her arms around the neck of this man who looked very much like Gen the gold and the legend said you see big silly if only you had talked to me like this sooner. And indeed if big silly had only talked to the French people soon other way that he might have been elected the first time run. There's another story they tell him that I'm not sure that I can tell in mixed company but I'll get a word from my wife about this later but I'm going to risk it anyway and that is the story they tell in Paris is very typical of Paris that they tell this story which is why I'm telling it to you purely from the view of the contemporary historian not because I want to tell a story. Long term Paris correspondent I do enjoy Delhi naughty stories as the story of a moment of passionate intimacy between the goals when met them to go shouted out. And Charles looked down upon her and said My dear you can call me Charles. There's a good deal of fun in politics in France of course it doesn't hit us this way but that is my relation between my book and the Book of My friend Ben it's. But there's an even close relationship of my book to that bobber talk that the proud. Wonderful book is something that means very much to me for the man about whom I wrote is if ever there is any such man one who lives in a proud. General not only a man who lives in abroad but was born in the world Tuchman wrote about General as you know an eight hundred ninety although there are those who say he was born in forty nine he merely acts that way but he was born at a very important moment only fifteen years after the birth of the Third Republic of friends and the goal had been a soldier in the war the Franco-Prussian War which had brought the proud friends crumbling at the end of the nineteenth century. His father was a professor of history philosophy and mathematics a lay professor a Jesuit school and he raised his boy Charles to believe in the proud tower of France and France the great center of civilization the great leader of the Christian Catholic world and the goal was brought up with a family history what he calls the baggage of history which he carried into life there was all through French history many to gold to appear to as far back as the fourteenth century when there was a should evaluate a goal the Lord governor of the city of Zia who defended the city against the invasion of the British and then there was the Council of the king in seven hundred fifty John but the god or there was a shot on the gold at the Battle of action on who and according to French legend. He was one of the captains of the army who spoke to the concrete up adult behave the commander in chief of the French army and protested that the mobi