CLICK Image to Buy "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"

CLICK Image to Buy "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"
WHEN LIONS ROAR is 'Brilliant' says Washington Post, Buy Now on Amazon

Chris Matthews Likes WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"

Chris Matthews Likes WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys"
"What I like most in Maier's giant work is the spine of this saga, the all-important record of influence the great soldier-statesman-historian's life exerted on the future American president." -- Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball, review in Chartwell Bulletin, The Churchill Centre

Friday, August 19, 2016

It's the Sixties and Seventies, Baby! Season 4 of Masters of Sex features more scenes from the book.

   The Showtime drama series MASTERS OF SEX is a real experiment in narrative story-telling on television. It has combined many characters and events from my non-fiction biography, along with some remarkable fictional creations by showrunner Michelle Ashford (most notably, the Emmy-winning turn by Allison Janney). Michelle and her writing team have done a wonderful job of adapting my book into a drama. 
    For this upcoming Season 4, Masters of Sex delves into many late 1960s scenes from my book, including the hilarious encounters of Masters and Johnson with Playboy's Hugh Hefner but also some deep Proustian remembrances of lost loves by poor Bill Masters with his beloved Dody. 
Lizzy Caplan and author Thomas Maier
on set of MASTERS OF SEX
(I watched some of Bill's ruminations about Dody being filmed last week when I visited the Hollywood lot where Season 4 is being filmed.) I think fans of my book will be very pleased with the new episodes of the show premiering Sunday September 11 on Showtime.
Michael Sheen and author Thomas Maier

Thursday, July 14, 2016

3 Prime-Time Emmy Noms for "Masters of Sex," 11 Emmy Noms in Total

Here we offer a few acting tips to Allison (only kidding!)
Congratulations to MASTERS OF SEX for 3 Prime-Time Emmy nominations today, including Outstanding Guest Actress for Allison Janney. That makes a total 11 Emmy nominations for Masters of Sex in the past three seasons (including best actress for Lizzy Caplan as well as a Golden Globe best drama nom). Season 4 starts this Sunday September 11 at 10 PM on Showtime. It's based on my book of the same title. (As a producer, I get to cheer for everyone and claim credit for everything whether I deserve it or not, lol!)

Also, I'm delighted to see that the limited series ROOTS also picked up an Emmy nom today. It was written by Mark Rosenthal and Larry Konner, who are putting the finishing touches on ALL THAT GLITTERS for Bravo. Glitters is based on my book, "Newhouse: All That Glitter, Power and Glory of America's Richest Media Empire and Secretive Man Behind It."

Saturday, June 18, 2016

How Boris Johnson Ignores History When He Claims Churchill Would Have Favored Brexit; Read This 1933 Scene from 'When Lions Roar' where Winston Pushes for the 'Sterling Dollar'

Author Thomas Maier with Boris Johnson in 2014
When Boris Johnson says Winston Churchill would be pro-Brexit, he ignores history. He obviously didn't read this scene with Winston, FDR's son James and Joe Kennedy at Chartwell in 1933 from WHEN LIONS ROAR (also in Martin Gilbert's accounts):

Churchill, gazing at young Roosevelt, admitted quite candidly his ambition. “I wish to be Prime Minister and in close and daily communication by telephonewith the President of the United States,” he declared without hesitation. “There is nothing we could not do if we were together.”
Churchill then motioned to his secretary to bring him a piece of paper. On it, he etched the British sterling pound insignia and then intertwined it with the American dollar symbol. He drew the union of the two with a great flourish.
“Pray, bear this to your father from me,” Churchill beseeched to the president’s son. “Tell him this must be the currency of the future.”
Jimmy looked perplexed. “What will you call this new currency, sir?” he asked.
“The sterling dollar,” Churchill replied.
Roosevelt, who enjoyed a good laugh, teasingly asked, “What, sir, if my father should wish to call it the dollar sterling?”
“It’s all the same—we are together,” Churchill declared.
After that memorable afternoon, the Roosevelts would travel to Paris and then on to Rome. Rose Kennedy joined them on this relaxing trek, during which they would meet the Pope at the Vatican.
But Joe Kennedy had a much different agenda. Kennedy stayed behind in London to finish out the business deal for British liquor that he’d so carefully put together.

(Page 80-81 in WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys, Crown 2014.)

Monday, April 18, 2016

Why Americans Love Winston Churchill, the British Leader Who Was Half-American.

The leadership of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965), during World War II made him unforgettable to Americans. This excerpt from “WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys,” by Thomas Maier (Crown) helps explain why his memory endures.

  Mark Twain, the longtime bard of the Mississippi, introduced Winston Churchill to a crowd of wealthy Americans packed inside New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel ballroom in December 1900—one of those rare meetings of historic figures that occurred so often in Churchill’s life.
“I was thrilled by this famous companion of my youth,” Winston recalled of Twain, a literary inspiration. “He was now very old and snow-white, and combined with a noble air a most delightful style of conversation.”
 Winston expected to be lionized by Twain but instead had his tail tweaked. The twenty-six-year-old celebrated British war correspondent was on a lecture tour, picking up handsome fees to talk about his bloody adventures and headline-grabbing writings on imperial conflicts around the globe. By contrast, Twain, at age sixty-five, loathed the chest-beating of war—especially the jingoistic, romanticized accounts of farm boys ground up and left for dead on the battlefield. Twain feared his nation might someday become an empire like Great Britain. The night’s verbal swordplay between the old American and the young Englishman reflected so many differences between the Crown and its former colony.
Within no time, Twain whittled Churchill down a peg or two. Although his friendly introduction wasn’t a tar-and-feathering, Twain made plain how wrongheaded Churchill had been about the British Empire pestering those poor indigent people in places like India and South Africa. Churchill “knew all about war and nothing about peace,” Twain told the standing-room-only audience, many of whom seemed to agree with him. As an account of the evening by the New York Times explained, “War might be very interesting to persons who like that sort of entertainment, but he [Twain] never enjoyed it himself.”
Graciously, Twain ended this battle of wits by proclaiming he’d always favored good relations between England and the United States. He even touted the night’s guest speaker as a product of such amity. “Mister Churchill by his father is an Englishman, by his mother he is an American—no doubt a blend that makes a perfect match,” Twain declared. “England and America, we are kin. And now that we are also kin in sin, there is nothing more to be desired.”
Churchill’s encounter with Mark Twain appears in the former’s 1930 autobiography, My Early Life, certainly one of his most revealing books. On display in it are the conflicting themes of Winston’s life: his tortured relationship with his famous father, whose legacy he strove to exceed; his sense of being half-American despite an unswerving loyalty to the British Crown; and his fascination with war, both as an adventurer-writer and a statesman-politician who deeply understood the power of words.
While war and peace provided a backdrop for his 1900 lecture tour, commerce remained Churchill’s frontline concern. He had been elected recently to Parliament, but without a steady source of income. A seat in the House of Commons then didn’t pay any salary, and Churchill depended on his writing assignments for a living. An agent convinced him he could earn a tidy sum by lecturing in America. “I have so much need for money and we cannot afford to throw away a single shilling,” he confided to his mother.
America always held a special affinity for Churchill. Five years earlier, he had visited his mother’s New York cousins and been mightily impressed by the young nation’s restless energy. “Picture to yourself the American people as a great lusty youth—who treads on all your sensibilities and perpetrates every possible horror of ill manner—whom neither age nor just tradition inspire with reverence—but who moves about his affairs with a good hearted freshness which may well be the envy of older nations of the earth,” Churchill described to his brother in a note echoing Alexis de Tocqueville. In New York, he met Congressman William Bourke Cockran, an Irish American friend of his mother’s and a riveting public speaker, upon whom Winston modeled his own rhetoric. “You are indeed an orator,” Churchill told Cockran. “And of all the gifts there is none so rare and precious as that.” Winston learned to argue convincingly rather than divisively, to persuade rather than condemn.
Although British at heart, he described himself as “a child of both worlds.” His mother, Jennie Churchill, grew up the multi-talented daughter of Leonard Jerome, a Wall Street speculator and racetrack operator (his initial fortune made in Rochester, New York, publishing the newspaper house organ for the anti-immigrant Know-Nothing Party). In describing the aggressive tycoon Jerome, Churchill biographer Roy Jenkins later said “there was a touch of Joseph P. Kennedy about him.” Jennie wed Lord Randolph in Paris after an abrupt romance that produced Winston’s premature arrival eight months later, on November 30, 1874.
Friends such as Violet Bonham Carter thought of Winston as half-American—both “an aristocrat and yet our greatest Commoner.” This potent cross-Atlantic combination of genes seemed a key to Churchill’s compelling personality, what the British historian A. L. Rowse called “the strength of the two natures mixed in him—the self-willed English aristocrat and the equally self-willed primitive American—each with a hundred-horsepower capacity for getting his way.”
Winston was amused by those who traced his American roots to the Iroquois or to America’s 1776 Revolutionary leader against the British. “It certainly is inspiring to see so great a name as George Washington upon the list,” Winston said of one published genealogy. “I understand, however, that if you go back far enough everyone is related to everyone else, and we end up in Adam.”

Winston Churchill’s American lecture tour in 1931 appeared a great success, as many enjoyed this visiting Englishman’s wit and speaking style. “Some of his epigrams, so it is wickedly asserted by his enemies, are carefully prepared in advance, and even practiced before a mirror,” declared a New York Times editorialist. “But their sting and point are nonetheless delightful.” On December 13, 1931, though, the Churchill bandwagon came to a screeching halt.     That evening, Winston planned to go to bed early at the Waldorf Astoria, his Manhattan hotel. Instead, at nine o’clock he received a telephone call from Bernard Baruch, inviting him to his home on Fifth Avenue to meet with two mutual friends. Into the night, Churchill took a taxicab. Along the way, he realized he didn’t have Baruch’s precise home address, only a general idea of its location from an earlier visit. At one point, Churchill bounded out of the cab toward the sidewalk. He looked left but not to the right. When he turned, he saw “a long dark car rushing forward at full speed.” The driver hit the brakes, but too late. In a lingering split second, Churchill, then fifty-seven, thought to himself, I am going to be run down and probably killed. He fortunately wasn’t—another near miss in a life lucky enough to rival any cat’s. His heavy fur-lined coat seemed to cushion some of the blow. But the automobile took its toll, smacking Churchill’s head to the pavement with “an impact, a shock, a concussion indescribably violent,” and dragging him for several yards. “I do not understand why I was not broken like an eggshell,” he later observed. In the middle of Fifth Avenue, a boulevard of American ambition, Churchill lay prostrate, bleeding and in pain, as police and a crowd rushed to his aid.
“A man has been killed!” someone cried.
While being picked up and carried away by rescuers, this fallen stranger was asked for his name.
“I am Winston Churchill, a British statesman,” he moaned.
By the time he arrived at Lenox Hill Hospital, Churchill felt sharp pain yet realized he would survive. Baruch and Clementine soon stood at his bedside. “Tell me, Baruch, when all is said and done, what is the number of your house?” he uttered, a sure sign he’d get well and that his quick wit never needed a crutch.
This almost-deadly car crash derailed Churchill’s lecture tour, which he needed most urgently to pay his bills at home. Instead, he spent the next several weeks mending, and mulling over his future. “You will find me, I am afraid, a much weaker man than the one you welcomed on December 11,” he wrote to Randolph, back in England. Clementine conceded to her son that Winston had suffered “three very heavy blows” in recent years, leaving him without either political power in Parliament or much of his personal savings on Wall Street. “The loss of all that money in the crash, then the loss of his political position in the Conservative Party, and now this terrible injury—He said he did not think he would ever recover completely from the three events,” Clementine wrote. The prospect of a diminished life seemed more unbearable to Winston than if he had been killed on the street. It marked the darkest period in his “wilderness years,” an agonizing time when he felt pushed aside from his countrymen and good fortune.
By February, Churchill had recovered enough to travel and fulfill most speaking engagements in the United States. His loyal circle of friends and patrons rallied to his cause, deciding to buy him a Rolls-Royce “to celebrate his recovery” and deliverance from oblivion. “We think there is a certain appropriateness in the presentation of a motor car to a man who has been knocked down by a taxi-cab!” wrote Brendan Bracken to Baruch. Though his career seemed over in England, Churchill’s popularity among Americans stayed intact. Some in the press pondered if Winston, born to an American mother, would ever consider running for president. “I have been treated so splendidly in the United States that I should be disposed, if you can amend the Constitution, seriously to consider the matter,” he joked.

  Old Glory and the Union Jack draped the streets of Jefferson City, Missouri—the perfect symbolism for a 1946 visit by President Harry Truman and the man who Truman said had saved Western civilization.
 In an open-air limousine convertible, Winston Churchill sat beside Franklin D. Roosevelt’s successor while thousands of Missourians waved and greeted them at the train station. The two grinning politicians were surrounded by dour security agents (standing guard on the running boards) as the limo drove through the state capital on March 6, 1946. After a long train ride from Washington, the seventy-one-year-old former British prime minister was careful not to exert himself too much. When asked that year about his secret of success, the old warhorse advised, “Conservation of energy—never stand up when you can sit down, and never sit down when you can lie down.”
Only months after being turned out of high office, Churchill journeyed to a college gym in nearby Fulton to give one of the most significant speeches of his career. With the American president’s blessing, his clarion call for Anglo-American resistance to the Soviet Union’s “Iron Curtain” (his metaphor for the spread of communism dividing up Europe) would launch the decades-long Cold War. But this address in Fulton, entitled “The Sinews of Peace,” also provided another turning point in Churchill’s long life. Instead of retirement, he chose vigorous, almost defiant engagement. Rather than fade away with his glorious victories of the past, he decided to embrace, almost prophetically, the future of the postwar world with its atomic dangers. He would reinvent himself once again as a world statesman, his voice both familiar and brand new.
Not everything about this trip was high stakes, however. On the ride to Missouri, Truman and Churchill demonstrated their personal diplomacy with a card game.
“Mr. President, I think that when we are playing poker I will call you Harry,” Churchill announced.
“All right, Winston,” Truman replied.
For more than an hour, they played with a handful of aides and reporters aboard the Ferdinand Magellan, the specially made presidential train car with a thick concrete floor to protect against explosions. Churchill’s pile of chips dwindled as he lost each hand, downing sips of drink along the way. When the former prime minister, wearing one of his siren suits, excused himself for a momentary bathroom break, Truman quickly issued an executive order.
“Listen, this man’s oratory saved the western world,” Truman commanded the group, which included a young reporter named David Brinkley. “We are forever indebted to him. We’re not going to take his money.”
“But, Boss, this guy’s a pigeon,” cried one of the players, Harry Vaughan, the president’s military aide.
The president wouldn’t allow anything to trump this special relationship. As if a matter of national security, the card sharks were defanged. Winston’s fortunes suddenly turned for the better, Brinkley recalled years later, after “Truman ordered us to let him win.”
Before the evening aboard the presidential train ended, Winston displayed his considerable understanding of American history and wondered aloud about fate. “If I were to be born again,” he mused, he wished to become a citizen in “one country where a man knows he has an unbounded future.”
Truman’s entourage asked what nation that might be.
“The USA,” Churchill declared solemnly, “. . . even though I deplore some of your customs.”
Puzzled, the Americans wondered what Yankee habit so appalled him.

“You stop drinking with your meals,” Winston replied.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Before Superstorm Sandy, A 1998 Warning about Building on Long Island's Fragile Coastline

Back in 1998, this five-part Newsday series warned about the perils of massive building along the Hamptons and Fire Island shorelines - Long Island's fragile environmental jewel. It showed how some owners made millions by speculating on coastline properties. Some were under water but recovered through taxpayer-subsidized sand projects. Then new houses went up again. 

The series appeared during the '98 summer and was essentially ignored. (Although New Yorker editor David Remnick left a message saying how much he liked it).

When Superstorm Sandy came along in 2012, the warnings were realized. Some 100,000 Long Island homes were damaged or destroyed. The before and after photos  of Fire Island are remarkable. 

Not every series has an immediate impact. But I was glad that we did series before the disaster struck -- a real public service. Here's the summary of the series that appeared in the IRE Journal

Shoreline in Peril, 1998 Newsday series: For years, the rich and powerful have built lavish second homes along the 75-mile Atlantic Ocean shoreline from Fire Island to the Hamptons, and for just about as long, the forces of nature have come along to eat away at what some have called one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. While building on property they own is the right of anyone who can afford it, this investigation found that to a large extent, property owners on Long Island's ocean shores were doing it at the public expense. By Thomas Maier and John Riley, IRE JOURNAL 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Masters of Sex at the Scripters, Starts Filming Season 4 in Late Spring.

Over the weekend in LA, I attended the Scripters Awards with my wife Joyce and joined Michelle Ashford, the showrunner for Masters of Sex, and Sarah Timberman, the executive producer. Season 4 starts filming in late spring with Lizzy Caplan and Michael Sheen.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

"Masters of Sex" Showrunner and Author Nominated for Scripter Award for Adapation of Book; Faces "Game of Thrones" and Others in the Battle of TV Literary Adapts. Touche, George R.R. Martin!

Michelle Ashford and Thomas Maier at
the "Masters of Sex"writers' room in LA.
Director Michael Apted directed this episode
based on Michelle's script.
Always fun to visit with Michelle
   Congratulations to Michelle Ashford on being nominated along with myself for a USC Scripter Award for Masters of Sex Episode 312 "Full Ten Count," which is adapted from the book.
   The Scripter honors both the author and the screenwriter of books adapted into a movie or television series. This is the first time that television shows have been eligible for the 28-year-old Hollywood award. (In recent years, the Scripter has been an early indicator of who will win the Oscar for screenwriting). 
   The winners will be announced on Saturday, Feb. 20th in ceremonies at the Edward L. Doheny Jr. Memorial Library at the University of Southern California. My wife Joyce and I will be attending the black-tie Hollywood event.

Helen Mirren and Taylor Hackford are serving as honorary chairs of the event.

"Since 1988, the USC Libraries Scripter Award has honored each year's best adaptation of the printed word to film. Scripter celebrates writers and writing, collaboration, and the profound results of transforming one artistic medium into another. It stands as an emblem of libraries' ability to inspire creative and scholarly achievement. In 2016 the USC Libraries inaugurate a new Scripter award, for television adaptation. Nearly 80 shows are eligible, almost as many as feature films, and the Scripter Selection Committee will recognize the vitality of this genre at the awards show."

Here's the list of nominees:


Game Of Thrones
Screenwriters David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, for the episode "Hardhome," adapted from the fantasy series "A Song of Ice and Fire" by George R. R. Martin
HBO and Bantam

The Leftovers
Damon Lindelof and Jacqueline Hoyt for the episode "Axis Mundi", based on the novel by Tom Perrotta
HBO and St. Martin's Press

The Man In The High Castle
Frank Spotnitz for the episode "The New World," based on the novel by Philip K. Dick
Amazon and Putnam

Masters Of Sex
Michelle Ashford, for the episode "Full Ten Count," based on the biography by Thomas Maier, "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love"
Showtime and Basic Books

Show Me A Hero
Screenwriters William F. Zorzi and David Simon, based on the nonfiction book by Lisa Belkin
HBO and Little, Brown and Company


The Big Short
Screenwriters Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, adapted from Michael Lewis's nonfiction work "The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine"
Paramount Pictures and W.W. Norton

Novelist Colm Tóibín and screenwriter Nick Hornby
Fox Searchlight and Viking

The End Of The Tour
Screenwriter Donald Margulies, adapted from David Lipsky's memoir "Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace"
A24 and Broadway Books

The Martian
Novelist Andy Weir and screenwriter Drew Goddard
Twentieth Century Fox and Crown Publishing Group

Emma Donoghue for the novel and screenplay
A24 and Little, Brown and Company

Friday, November 13, 2015

"When Lions Roar" is Now Out in Paperback; Q&A with The Churchill Centre About The Book

With the paperback just out, here's a reminder that "When Lions Roar" was reviewed favorably by The Churchill Centre's Chris Matthews (TV's 'Hardball' host) and the Centre's bulletin featured this Q&A with the author from Long Island who never fails to note that Winston's mother was born in Brooklyn.

Author of When Lions Roar: The Churchills & The Kennedys
Discusses His Book With The Chartwell Bulletin

When_Lions_Roar_DJThomas Maier is a best-selling journalist and biographer whose work includes the book that inspired the hit Showtime series Masters of Sex as well as The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings. He recently spoke about his newest book, which returns to the story of the Kennedys and adds Winston Churchill and his family, at Chartwell Booksellers. To watch the video, please CLICK HERE. Additionally, Maier took the time to speak with the Chartwell Bulletin about When Lions Roar: The Churchill & The Kennedys. This interview follows below: 

CB: Tom, welcome to Chartwell Bulletin. You began your career as a journalist; tell us how you made the transition to biography and about some of the subjects that first interested you.

TM: All five of my books are about America in the 20th Century, even this one about the families of JFK and Winston Churchill, (who, in a sense, was half-American because his mother was born in Brooklyn). Many of the best biographies and histories of this generation have been written by those who began in the newsroom rather than the academy. Pulitzer-winner Robert Caro (author of biographies on LBJ and Robert Moses) began at my newspaper Newsday in New York and this year another former Newsday colleague Dan Fagin won the Pulitzer for General Non-Fiction. The skills of an investigative reporter are invaluable in coming up with new historic discoveries and writing a vivid, ground-breaking narrative.

CB: You first wrote about the Kennedy family in your 2003 book, The Kennedy's: America's Emerald Kings. What led to you to them as a subject and what did you find of particular interest in this very well-documented American family.

TM: So many Kennedy histories are caught up in "Camelot" imagery and ignore the impact of the family's Irish Catholic immigrant background on their personal and public lives. If you view JFK as the first US president from a minority background (his Catholicism was the top issue of the 1960 presidential campaign), then looking at his roots seems vital and proved ground-breaking for my first book about the Kennedys. The heart of this new book is the Kennedys' time in London leading up to World War II and how Winston Churchill had a lasting impact on President Kennedy and the US during the Cold War, becoming the successor to the British Empire in today's international arena.

CB: How did you become interested in the Churchill family and in the Churchill/Kennedy relationship? What were your goals when you started your research and what sources did you find interesting and useful?

TM: Both Winston and JFK were warriors, historians and superb statesmen who understood the power of words. Comparing and contrasting their remarkable dynasties provided great insight into the "special relationship" between America and Great Britain and was irresistible once I realized no one had ever written such a saga. It was a story hidden in plain sight, waiting to be told. Overall, my book contains 1783 separate footnotes, much of it from the Churchill archives, JFK and FDR presidential libraries, and collections at the Library of Congress and National Archives in London, where I read the fascinating papers of Lord Beaverbrook, one of many friends of both families.

CB: What was the most revealing part of your research? Did you find things that surprised you?

TM: Many of the biggest disclosures in When Lions Roar come from previously-unpublished documents, including those about the secretive 1933 British liquor deal involving Joe Kennedy, Churchill and FDR's oldest son, Jimmy. Documents about this business deal—and unknown letters from mutual friends such as Americans Bernard Baruch and Kay Halle—show that the Kennedys and Churchill were friendly before they became antagonists over America's entry into World War II, and ultimately how the younger generation became friends again during the 1960s Kennedy presidency era. This arc rewrites the conventional wisdom, in which some claimed the Churchills and Kennedys always disliked each other. This just wasn't so and the documents quoted in my book make their story much more complex and heart-rendering.

CB: Given their legacies today, do you think the Churchills and the Kennedys defined and used "power" in similar or different ways?

TM: Like a modern-day War and Peace, I wanted to write a big narrative history that captures the extraordinary lives of the Churchills and the Kennedys, with their ambitions, desires and legacy of greatness. Both Winston Churchill and JFK understood how great speeches, a sense of history, and intangibles like courage and wit were so important to their legacy. From a long view, When Lions Roar traces how power was transferred from the old British Empire to today's U.S. sphere of influence, and that JFK was perhaps the most effective heir to Churchill's legacy as a champion of freedom.

CB: Why do you think Winston Churchill and Joseph Kennedy, as well as their sons Randolph and Joe Jr., had such opposing views on the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930's? How did this affect their relationship, both professionally and personally?

TM: War for the Churchills meant defending their beloved England—and all the liberties and human dignity that Hitler threatened—whereas war for the Kennedys, like most Americans during those isolationist times, meant only death and destruction in a faraway land and senseless loss of young lives. Eventually Joe lost his oldest namesake son and the war nearly killed Jack Kennedy too. It is so tragic to consider, especially given the many mutual friends these two families shared in the 1930s, how the evil of Hitler's Nazi empire tore them apart for many years. But how the young Kennedys and Churchill reconciled during the early 1960s and became close friends is one of the most surprising aspects of my book.

CB:How would you compare the marriages of Winston and Clementine Churchill from Joseph and Rose Kennedy? How did these characteristics help or hinder the two men?

TM: Both Winston and Clementine came from families with a lot of tumult yet their marriage maintained a rock-steady fidelity to each other and Winston's dream of becoming prime minister someday. Joe and Rose's marriage was upset by his infidelities, but they took great pride in their "family enterprise" with nine children. Joe Kennedy's failure as a politician, ironically, allowed him to pour his energies into his sons' public lives in a way that Winston never did with his son Randolph.

CB: The Churchill and Kennedy sagas contain many interesting side characters who weave in and out of both their own and their family's lives. Were there some you found especially interesting?

TM: The supporting cast of characters in this story who were friends with both families is truly extraordinary—from Lord Beaverbrook, FDR and Bernard Baruch to Aristotle Onassis, Evelyn Waugh and Pamela Churchill. In particular, I'd like to think that my book gives serious consideration to independent-minded women such as Clare Boothe Luce, Kick Kennedy, Pulitzer winner Margaret Coit, Kay Halle and Pamela Churchill, who were too often dismissed in previous books about these two families.

CB: Both Joe Kennedy as an individual and his record as Ambassador to the Court of St. James have been widely disparaged. Did Kennedy have strengths as an ambassador and what do you think ultimately lead to his failure in that position?

TM: Joe Kennedy's desire for respectability in London was understandable, especially in the context of his Irish Catholic roots and his family's ambitions for higher office. But Joe's celebrated selection by FDR was done for a host of bad reasons, as my book explains. Joe's outspokenness was often wrong-headed, as his son Jack eventually realized. For more than ever before, this book closely examines the spy scandal at the US Embassy in London during World War II that would haunt the Kennedys for years to come. (One of the first things new Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked of FBI chieftain J. Edgar Hoover was the file on Tyler Kent, the convicted spy from his father's tenure).

CB: From having examined the lives of both families in detail, would you agree that being the child of a great or famous man is both an advantage as well as a burden? How to you think this affected and was reflected in the lives of the children in both families?

TM: Yes, the dynamic between fathers and sons—both the burdens and the advantages—is a big theme in this book. Both Joe Kennedy Jr. and Randolph Churchill were particularly impacted by their famous fathers and the expectations surrounding them. In a sense, Jack Kennedy, like Winston Churchill, benefitted from lowered parental expectations when they were young, allowing them to find their own voices. My book begins in 1930 when both Winston and Jack were at low moments in their lives and I hope readers enjoy learning how they achieved their respective greatness.

CB: Now that we are approaching the 50th anniversary of Churchill's death, what would Joe Kennedy think about his iconic status today?

TM: One of the most memorable scenes in my book is from April 1963, when a crippled Joe Kennedy, silent from a stroke, looked out a second-floor White House window as his son, President John F. Kennedy, bestowed honorary U.S. citizenship upon Winston Churchill in recognition for all he meant to America during World War II and the fight against Nazi tyranny. For a long time, Joe Kennedy held a great grudge against Winston—responsible in his eyes for bringing America into the war, for the death of so many young people including his son and son-in-law. But later in life, Joe apparently visited with Churchill, arranged by their mutual friend Lord Beaverbrook, and agreed with the need for a strong defense against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Ultimately, I can't help but believe that Joe, sitting silently in that wheelchair in 1963, would wind up agreeing with the judgment of his son Jack who patterned so much of his leadership skills upon Winston's lasting example.Kennedy_Churchill_ceremonyHonorary Citizenship Ceremony

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Jackie, Churchill's son and JFK's son

In WHEN LIONS ROAR, the relationship of the Kennedys and the Churchills comes full circle, as the second generation becomes quite friendly in the 1960s. Here's Jacqueline Kennedy, JFK Jr. and Randolph Churchill in Manhattan. The relationship between Jackie, Churchill's son and JFK's son is one of my favorite stories in the book and is very little known. "When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys" is now out in paperback.

Reelz Documentary about Jackie Kennedy by NBC's Natalie Morales; Interviewed as 'When Lions Roar" author and Kennedy expert.

Over the weekend, please check out this documentary about Jackie Kennedy on Reelz, hosted by Natalie Morales of NBC News. I was interviewed as the author "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys", which also refers to my 2003 book about the Kennedys that featured an interview with Rev. Richard McSorley, the Georgetown Jesuit who counseled JFK's widow after his assassination. The book quoted from Jackie's letters to McSorley and the priest's own diary that is housed in the Georgetown University Library. This material has been quoted by several others authors since my 2003 book appeared. Here's a clip from the program.

The nation turned to Jackie in the aftermath of JFK's assassination. How she handled her grief is explored in depth on Jackie Kennedy: Behind Closed Doors hosted by Natalie Morales Saturday night at 9p ET/8p PT.
Posted by ReelzChannel on Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Lord Beaverbrook, I presume? Read how Lord "Max" Beaverbrook played the Churchills and the Kennedys off of one another, while seeking his own path to power and fame. And that's WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys," out in paperback Oct. 27

Lord Beaverbrook, I presume? One of the great characters of WHEN LIONS ROAR is Max Aitken, aka Lord Beaverbrook, the Fleet Street press magnate who was close friends with both Winston Churchill and Joseph P. Kennedy, father of the future president. Beaverbrook was brilliant, charming and a master manipulator, of world-class Machiavellian sort.

One of my favorite "scoops" from the book is how Beaverbook -- the hero of 1940's Battle of Britain, for quickly building so many aircraft against the Nazis -- had arranged privately with Joe Kennedy to ship his fortune to the US in Kennedy's care if indeed the Germans invaded England as feared. I found this mentioned in Joe's papers at the JFK Library. Talk about covering your bets! But that was part of Max's charm, Winston might concede.

There's only one book that tells that how Lord "Max" Beaverbrook played the Churchills and the Kennedys off of one another, while seeking his own path to power and fame. And that's WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys," out in paperback Oct. 27.