This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
Irita Van Doren introduces Luncheon speakers James Michener, Agnes E. Meyer and Will Durant.
James Michener discusses his novel, "The Bridges at Toko-Ri" and the relationship between the United States and the countries of Asia.
Agnes E. Meyer discusses her autobiography, "Education for a New Morality," and her own trailblazing career.
Finally, Will Durant discusses his book, "The Renaissance."
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71182
Municipal archives id: LT3642
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Station brings to. The Hotel Astor. A mainstay of the city's cultural life I co-sponsored on a nonprofit basis by the New York Herald and the American book. Among our distinguished. Dreams I met well Durant's and I go. There now is a riddle literary editor of The New York Herald. Some of you may remember the Jane. To this audience. On the very morning after specific open and that he reported quite happily and early telephone call from a friend Well Jim you woke up this morning to find out pens are famous. That. The Tales of the South Pacific won a Pulitzer. And the award plus the fabulous and well deserved success of the musical comedy and courage Mr Michener to pursue great interest in Asia His latest book The Bridge is a topical really turns to the way we have been fighting in Korea for a tragic piece in the puzzle that is Asia it is a far away world it has dragged on a long time with even yet no definite conclusion and the purpose of it is not always understood at home Mr Michener's dramatic moving story of the crew and Jet fliers on a flight top whose desperate job is to destroy a series of bridges strategically important to the enemy aimed at answering one question. A question in the heart and mind. To risk his life in the battle for freedom in a foreign land. Why does it have to be. Honest imagine I sees this as an episode unnecessary terrible episode in our. Not only Asia but our sound. Fields that are linked together that the Pacific Ocean is a highway between Europe and America a highway that is going to carry two way traffic and that only by patience determination and understanding can we make it a peaceful highway I introduced you with great pleasure James Mitchell. For me. Exactly the. Easier. We have. Yet again. The. Most popular victory since Richmond up. Belaboring the point that I. Can get some. Other portions of the love with strong. And. That's in the last half the ninth inning. Now I have found from having lived in abroad a good deal of having been educated abroad that a nation can be either strong or love but it cannot be both I think one sees that and narrows current attitudes toward the United States and perfectly understandable that India is after all a nation in a happy times as large as the United States and fully intends to be of equal voice in world affairs therefore when your intended do that they are people to pick on are not the Belgians and the Sweden's and they Afghanistan and the world you say are right into the United States. I think that Mr Attlee's recent comment can also partly be tributed so that I had to choose if your political party out of power in a nation which has natural apprehensions about the growth of American power here is a good topic to say I am so in order to enhance your own position certainly the attitude of the Chinese and Asia in recent years can be understood. In terms of this power. It is almost inconceivable to me knowing Chinese history fairly well that a nation that was independent rests almost exclusively United States goodwill and backing up her aspirations against dynasty which controls the nation from outside one might say could in the same generation almost turned against that nation as bitterly as the Chinese had. So yet sent found his asylum in the United States he freed China in a sense from Honolulu not from the king he was dependent upon ask for support both moral and financial. It isn't a shocking case in which a nation which has prospered from the help of another has been fed a matter of fact almost seen an inevitable course for it turning against that nation in Indonesia today a country which I have grown to love rather deeply one sees this same kind of reaction to American policy and the American nation now if one were thin skinned going through Asia to die and listening to what one has to listen to in Asia the aspersions cast against us the constant hammering on why we execute Negroes without due process of law the constant. Contention that we must all of our liberals and are indeed a reactionary state the constant contention that no person with color and his skin dare look to the United States for any substance or succor one gets rather irritated by the. Prevalence of this view. The fact much more hopeful. I suppose that as Britain for generation had so tolerate the fact that every two bit politician like Mayor. Could. Get into office on a program of twisting the British line style without that policy very deeply modifying the basic attitudes of the United States as a whole toward better justice Britain had to learn to tolerate that so I think we must as an adult nation learn to tolerate the nonsensical reactions that we are going to face around the world from now on the fact however that at the very time when any British spirit was at its height in this country the solidarity British and American foreign policies and indeed military policies was never greater you had on the one hand a constant barrage against everything bridged and you had on the other hand a perfectly understood working agreement whereby the minute that Britain got into trouble all of our resources would be drowned I hardly think this is a sort of double dealing intellectually that people with mind the plough and I have tried to acquire a neat mind through my educational years and tried to lose it during my writing years so that I sort of on the fence on this the neatness of my mind objects better later what I find in Asia the actual long range basis doesn't worry me much at all. The facts are these and one thing the when I was in the air you couldn't find a young Indian student who would talk to an American sensibly about America's future in the world because everybody was sure that since the Chinese are just not the daylights out of us in northern Korea we were through as a nation I'm sure I see a fellow reporter who was with me in India at that very time and I know she knows how love our state had fallen in the minds of Indian intellectual as when it seemed that we were through in Singapore in nineteen forty nine you couldn't get any younger colleagues to talk to you about the future of American ideas or the future of democracy in Asia because it was perfectly obvious that we were through and that the future of the world lay with Russia there are a few people in New York to realize how completely defeated armies were in Northern Korea in that dreadful winter of one nine hundred fifty in fifty one it isn't probably the major military defeat this nation has ever suffered it was kept from us by a combination of circumstances which historians will deal with in the future the fact remains that we were defeated nation we were almost driven out of Korea by a horrid of Chinese with. A sizeable number we were never greatly outnumbered we were in general than at maneuvered and lasted and everything else we're a nation in dreadful wrap in that winter and those of us who were there watching evacuations which were not broadcast lightly at home know how badly defeated we were. That was the nadir of our position in Asia that was the. American could get very little audience anywhere and that that. Today things are quite different we stuck it out in Korea although for internal political reasons we have called the Korean adventure eighty feet I having been in Korea five times now in the middle of the fighting in the moments of our child and certainly in the moments of despair I've never been able remote laid to understand why it was called a defeat it was in truth a great victory we drove back communism we re-established our credit in Asia we established the fact that we were not mere militarists intent upon invading the rest of the world but a nation dedicated to certain profound principles from which we would not retreat which we would not be kicked out at the first sign of hard times I cannot give a man like General Ridgeway some of those statements as chief of staff in support of the stand in a way he doesn't want Americans anymore to say anything nasty about the brass because if you don't love the brass you have fellows entering the army a second lieutenants trying to become generals It seems to me that I was rather unfortunate one can't give a man my grades right credit enough for having sailed into the middle of the back of that we were and gazed in Korea when all Asia was turning against us and stabilizing our lines and driving back the enemy to a position of victory we had attained that victory in Korea I have flown over almost all of North Korea at heights of say five hundred feet and military planes and in daylight hours in North Korea in the last two times I was there I never saw a human being move I never saw an ox cart on the roads I never saw a train that was visible I never saw a group of people during a market I never saw a farmer going to his field. This country was bottled up I planes were over it every hour of every day and every week of every month the casualties of the enemy in North Korea massive and terrifying to total up the communists not having been engaged in a political contest here and on last year can be forgiven if they do not call career a great resounding victory for their losses must have been enormous They not only at night I fly over Korea sometimes at night and seen a single train streaking out of the darkness as soon as it was seen it was destroyed. We did not lose in Asia believe me we did not now we do not now need to go either to India or Singapore and hide from the young intellectuals but they know that America has a capacity for stick they know that we are not going to run out of the first sign they know that we have not deviated basically from our principles all they should know is that now and one one can move through Asia with respect because the young people there are willing to talk to you now to find out what our principles are now most of them still favor Russia but they are not at all sure that the Russian way is the way for them the final point I'd like to make is that here is where history is sort of played and. For if we know Terry leadership did re-establish I credit in Korea the Chinese did most for us for a word has seeped out through Asia what a communist occupation of the nation really mean I've talked to the night fifty five schoolteachers from Shanghai and other cities are filtered out of Asia out of China and they have had to sit on platforms like this while their own lives and they audience by their own sons and daughters would get up and point the finger of scorn at them and say he reads English books he reads an American newspaper he is a traitor to China he is an enemy of the people of China he should be executed Now those are what executed I've never spoken to those who got away from them that all the night I have talked to. Endlessly almost Times. And the word got out that when communism takes over a nation like China there must be about seventy eight percent of the total population executed. Point in arguing with a schoolteacher who has read American books and was educated in a British university you're never going to reform him it's just going to be a. People's Movement it's better to execute them I would judge that the majority of people in this audience of enough interest. To. Duran talk about would have to be executed there's no point in trying to save you. As I'm taking over peacefully which permeated Asia and one thousand nine hundred eight now have been discredited the people that takes over in the dictatorships always take over by mass execution of dissidents. Today looking at Asia where much. So discuss things a peaceful it to the point of your prevail or a discussion table wherein a better point of view and says that we do honestly believe but we sat because that blanket of silence that we met two years ago has now been dissipated by the force of the event therefore for the first time in recent years I am rather optimistic about our chances in Asia and I hope that we don't make so many serious mistakes to dissipate what we now have the way Russia has dissipated lives like what she had. You are listening to the book another luncheon from the scribe of a W I N Y C To your credit on the statement W N Y Z F F Now here is a review of and all. I can speak at today is that with mine. She calls her autobiography A quasar associate a logical biography in simpler terms it is a story of the girls of an able energetic rebellious opinionated young girl into the woman whose name we connect with almost every fight for human will play in our country today the irresponsible adjective is hers the irresponsible undergraduate who worked her way through vomit is the day a most responsible bonded trustee the young mother who in the fountain nation of studio life among her friends could forget to go home to know how first baby is now the mother of five children and then has a large part of her life working for children everywhere of those early years of her married life she can say why my husband did not quietly made me and call it a day is more than I can now understand. And independent don't die in a conventional German Lutheran family she became the first woman reporter on the New York Morning Sun Her father said she'd rather see her dead mother whipped that was beginning since then her life has been a busy one lived with her marriage to Eugene Miles work with Charles and collecting for his gallery of Oriental Art in Washington the study of Chinese and a scholarly book on Chinese painting the friendship of philosophers statesmen and writers with John Dewey poll Claudette Island Tomas mom the greatest influences in family life out of these roots is the story of the life Agnes Maya has lead written as it has been lived with passion and conviction one reads it with excitement and sometimes with a sense of one's own inadequacy. The best thing about it perhaps is Mrs My As I think this is no valedictory I introduce to you with great pleasure. The very first thing I would do. Is to thank Mrs Van Doren and that is a relief for having me here at all because my book isn't going to appear for another week now my friend that was very encouraging to me but believe me you do need encouragement when you publish in this day and age and also biography I have a recurring nightmare every now and then that I've done a strip tease act in Madison Square Garden. That's that's bad enough but the mores of society being what they are it's safer to do a physical striptease and up their soul to the public and then I found this enterprise of solving for I've always been interested in this mysterious complex enigma called the self and in this to his pursuit has been the thought of me of much ecstasy and much sorrow when I had been discovered that I was now trying to tell the story of my checkered career he remarked Isn't it too bad you've already you lose the proper trifle on y