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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Amazon Best Books of the Month: WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys

Sunday, November 9, 2014

USA Today Calls WHEN LIONS ROAR "a captivating chronicle'; Bookreporter calls it "A well-researched historical masterpiece" which makes news with London's DAILY MAIL and around the world

WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys is just out in hardcover from Random House's Crown and has gained worldwide attention and some outstanding reviews from the critics. 

1. CRITICAL ACCLAIM: This week, USA TODAY calls it "a captivating chronicle" shedding new light on this untold story between the two well-known families. As for character-driven drama, here's what America's biggest newspaper said:
WHEN LIONS ROAR is "a captivating chronicle of the surprisingly many ways that Winston Churchill and Joseph P. Kennedy (and their progeny) crossed paths (and swords) over the course of the 20th century...What Maier beautifully factors in is the effect of these struggles on the children. When Lions Roar zeroes in on Kennedy's eldest two boys – the doomed, fair-haired Joe, Jr., who echoed all of his father's repugnant views, and the invalid Jack, who ultimately escaped them – pointedly contrasting Kennedy's loving, dutiful, dominated scions with Churchill and his only son, the gifted, yet agonizingly self-destructive Randolph."

"A well-researched historical masterpiece," said, the industry website. "WHEN LIONS ROAR is a lengthy but masterful dual biography and a genuine tribute to the two families whose public and private lives became intertwined."

LIBRARY JOURNAL: "In this fascinating dual biography ... Maier delves into archives on both sides of the Atlantic to bring to his narrative an impressive grasp of the two clans and the rich array of personalities that interacted with them over the decades. This is a book that cannot be put down, and its wealth of details, smoothly told, will hold the reader's attention from beginning to end. An excellent work for all history collections, especially those devoted to 20th-century political history.”

2. BLOCKBUSTER FINDINGS: TIME magazine ran a big book excerpt revealing the secret deal of how Joe Kennedy enlisted the help of Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt's son to make a fortune selling British liquor in America as Prohibition ended in 1933.

3. WORLDWIDE REACTION: In London this weekend, The DAILY MAIL covered the story from my book about how an FBI memo says Churchill urged the US to drop the atomic bomb on the Kremlin during Cold War. That story has now made headlines around the world.

4. TV TIE-IN: Random House, as part of the promotion, even asked me to write how WHEN LIONS ROAR would be cast if made into a television series like Masters of Sex.

I hope you enjoy WHEN LIONS ROAR. It's got two wars, spying for the Nazis and at the Vatican, White political intrigue, ambitious families, plenty of sex among powerful men and women, shady business deals, and a memorable story about famous fathers and their sons.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Winston Churchill's 'bid to nuke Russia' to win Cold War - uncovered in secret FBI files: London's Daily Mail Quotes From WHEN LION ROAR

In London, The Daily Mail on Sunday is quoting "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys," about an FBI memo claiming Winston Churchill urged the US to nuke the Soviet Union in 1947. To read the whole story click here. 

   As the DAILY MAIL ONLINE reports, "the memo is published for the first time in a book called When Lions Roar: The Churchills And The Kennedys, by award-winning investigative journalist Thomas Maier. It is due to be published in Britain next month. John F. Kennedy regarded Churchill as his hero and made him an honorary American citizen in 1963 – the first person to be given such an accolade.

An excerpt from the book appeared on the ICIJ website:

Friday, November 7, 2014

Investigative Reporting Involved with "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys" -- Interview with International Consortium of Investigative Journalists As Part of Churchill A-Bomb Excerpt

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

The World’s Best Cross-Border Investigative Team


Thomas MaierICIJ member Thomas MaierICIJ member Thomas Maier is an award-winning investigative journalist at Newsday. He has written five books, including Masters of Sex - the basis for the Showtime series - and the newly-published When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys, of which his publisher, Random House’s Crown, says “never before has there been a sweeping study of the complex and long-standing relationship that existed between these two families—and the profound effects of that association on history.”
What sparked your interest in this particular topic?
America in our times has been the focus of all my biographies, including this one about the Anglo-American “special relationship” between the Churchills and the Kennedys. Generally, I choose individuals or families who I hope will fascinate readers but also provide a deeper understanding about the times we live in and what they mean. 
After finishing Masters of Sex—with its detailing of the intricate personal lives of Masters and Johnson—I wanted to write a big historical saga, the sort that you might find in Tolstoy (or for the TV crowd, George R. R. Martin) with family dynasties, wars, wealth, passion, and politics. Joseph P. Kennedy and Winston Churchill were born into a world vastly different than that of their sons, and what’s more, the Kennedy and Churchill families were instrumental in changing it on both sides of the Atlantic. 
As an investigative historian, I seek out new information that other historians have yet to uncover. InWhen Lions Roar, there are ground-breaking disclosures about the many overlapping relationships between the families and friends of British prime minister Winston Churchill and U.S. president John F. Kennedy. Some of the best stories hide in plain sight for years. I was surprised to realize no one had ever put together all these connections into a larger dramatic narrative. 
How did you go about writing this book, and what sort of research was involved?
For more than 30 years, I’ve worked as an investigative reporter so this work has taught me to let documents be my guide to history. I have accumulated files that overflow with letters, diary notes, financial statements, old photos, and transcripts of oral histories. 
For this book, I put together a writing outline in my computer that totaled some 230,000 words—about the size of the finished text. Yes, investigative reporters tend to turn over every rock in researching a story, but this training has proved invaluable in seeking out new information about two families as extraordinarily well-known as the Churchills and the Kennedys. 
That was certainly the case in finding and examining the documents that reveal the previously unknown aspects of the liquor deal involving the Kennedys, the Churchills, and President Roosevelt’s son. What my book shows for the first time is that Winston Churchill obtained a lucrative amount of stock in two U.S. companies associated with Joseph P. Kennedy in an apparent “pay to play” arrangement, around the same time Kennedy received British approval to ship Scotch whiskey and other liquor to America as Prohibition was ending. A 1933 London trip by Kennedy and James Roosevelt, the son of FDR, helped secure the liquor contracts and involved a meeting with the financially troubled Churchill at his estate, Chartwell Manor. Using previously unreleased documents, my book shows how both Kennedy and Churchill benefitted from this arrangement and how President Roosevelt became alarmed when he learned that his son James was involved in this secret deal.
In another example from my research, FBI records showed Churchill favored dropping the atom bomb on Soviet Union in the early days of Cold War. Shortly after World War II ended with devastating atomic bomb explosions in Japan that killed more than 100,000 people, the former British Prime Minister suggested, privately, that the U.S. strike first against the Soviet Union before the Communist-run government developed the nuclear weapon. According to these FBI records, Churchill urged Sen. Styles Bridges, a conservative Republican active in foreign affairs, to push for a preemptive and devastating A-bomb attack on Moscow, a recent ally during the war.
Many documents about the Kennedys and Churchills have become available only in the past decade or so, and this book benefitted greatly from these new revelations.
When Lions Roar book coverWhy do you think this book is important, and what surprises can readers expect?
In large measure, When Lions Roar re-writes history. The conventional wisdom portrays the Churchills and Kennedys as antagonists due to their opposed views on Allied engagement in World War II. For many months, British prime minister Winston Churchill attempted to enlist the U.S. in his battle against Hitler, while U.S. ambassador Joe Kennedy in London tried to keep isolationist America out of the conflict for fear of seeing his young sons killed. 
For reasons that I explain in the book, the friendly connections in the mid-1930s between the two families weren’t known beyond a handful of associates, mainly to avoid potential political embarrassment and scandal. In my book, I describe the very important relationships that both families, and generations, had with press magnate Lord Beaverbrook, wealthy financier Bernard Baruch, writer Clare Boothe Luce, Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis, and the little-known Kay Halle, and a slew of other significant figures of the 20th century. 
The stage for this drama is played out over two wars, several presidential campaigns, and across the White House, Parliament, and the inner sanctum of the Vatican. Add to that fateful battles in the South Pacific, North Africa, and the D-Day shores of Normandy and you have a sense of the terrain. 
However, the small, intimate discoveries about the two families found in their personal letters were often the most memorable to me. For instance, people don’t know much about JFK’s 1958 visit with Winston Churchill aboard Aristotle Onassis’s yacht in the Mediterranean—a meeting that would be the first time Ari met Jackie Kennedy. I think readers will be surprised to learn JFK’s sister Kick was best friends with Pamela Churchill, the prime minister’s daughter-in-law, who was nearly killed in the same fatal plane crash that took Kick’s life in 1948. I certainly didn’t know much about the World War II spy case that haunted the Kennedys for years afterward or Winston Churchill’s provocative view about atomic warfare at the start of the Cold War. 
Though rancor still existed between the two families because of World War II, it slowly dissipated as JFK became president in 1960, assuming many of the global challenges that Churchill had tried to manage with the fading British Empire. I found a surprising amount of friendly interaction between this next generation—Winston’s son Randolph and Jackie and Bobby Kennedy—though it was generally kept out of the public eye, not unlike the families’ initial relationship. I was also surprised when I learned Bobby Kennedy wanted Randolph Churchill, the prime minister’s son, to become JFK’s biographer after Randolph finished writing a biography of his father. When Lions Roar explains how Randolph became friends with Jackie after JFK’s assassination, and how Randolph gave a gift to JFK Jr., the deceased president’s son, that would connect the two dynasties forever in history.
Churchill, the atom bomb, and the Iron Curtain - an excerpt from Thomas Maier's When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys

Six-Degrees of WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Richard Burton Connection with Churchill, JFK and Michael Sheen of Masters of Sex

Richard Burton as Winston Churchill
There are many poignant, often tragic scenes in my book, ranging from family strife to the terrible costs of war. But one memorable light-hearted moment stands out: an evening in the mid-1950s when Prime Minister Winston Churchill attended a performance of Hamlet starring Richard Burton. At intermission, the actor was surprised to discover Churchill waiting for him in his dressing room. He hoped this national hero might praise his performance, but instead Churchill was motivated by nature’s demands. “My Lord Hamlet, may I use your lavatory?” the Nobel Prize winner beseeched. And without any shilly shally, he did. A few months after writing that chapter, I was surprised to read a story in the New York Times in which actor Michael Sheen repeated that same Burton-Churchill anecdote at a 2012 event honoring the actor’s memory. Sheen is the star of Masters of Sex, the Showtime series based on my biography of researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. That humorous anecdote always reminds me of the ironic connection between my two most recent book projects. 
Richard Burton in Camelot,
Inspiring the Kennedy Legacy
Richard Burton in Hamlet

Watch "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys" -- Short Video about the Book and An Interview With Author Thomas Maier

Also, here's Thomas Maier on MSNBC chatting about "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys."

What if "WHEN LIONS ROAR" Became a TV Series? Casting Kennedy and Churchill with the 'Masters of Sex' Writer

Casting Kennedy and Churchill with the 'Masters of Sex' Writer

by Thomas Maier

This is from an essay that appeared in WORD & FILM, published by Random House:
Editor's Note: Thomas Maier is the author of five books, including The Kennedys: America's Emerald Kings and Masters of Sex, the basis for the Showtime series, as well as his latest, When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys. We asked Thomas to set to dream casting When Lions Roar, and here's what he came up with.

In casting "Masters of Sex" - the Showtime television series based on my biography of Masters and Johnson - the producers sent me a long list of possible actors and actresses to play the lead roles. It reminded me of a conversation I had with the real-life Virginia Johnson years before, when I asked her if she ever wondered who could play the two sex researchers in a movie.

For the role of Dr. Masters, Virginia had suggested Ed Harris, Robert Duvall, and maybe Kevin Spacey.

And for herself? "Joanne Newman," she said, with a Hollywood insider-like voice. After a moment, I realized she meant Joanne Woodward, the wife of actor Paul Newman.

It's a fun parlor game for authors with visions of seeing their latest work turned into a Hollywood extravaganza, either on the big screen or in the current "Golden Age" of premium television.

In writing my new book, When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys, I recalled some of the thespians who in the past played members of these two famous families. And of course, I fantasized who might play them in the future if my new tome became a film or TV drama. Here's some of my "wish list" casting, past and future:

Winston Churchill: Lots of actors have played the famous British Prime Minister, including Richard Burton, Albert Finney, Orson Welles, Timothy Spall ("The King's Speech"), and Julian Fellowes, now the mastermind of TV's "Downton Abbey." My pick today? Anthony Hopkins or Kenneth Branagh.

John F. Kennedy: The actors who have played the thirty-fifth president include Martin Sheen, Greg Kinnear, William Devane, Cliff Robertson, and Rob Lowe. My pick? Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, or maybe Bradley Cooper.

Jacqueline Kennedy: The legendary First Lady has been portrayed by actresses Jaclyn Smith, Blair Brown, and Katie Holmes. My choice? Charlize Theron or Keira Knightley.

Randolph Churchill: Winston's once brilliant golden-haired son who became a fallen star hasn't been portrayed in the past, but my pick is Leonardo DiCaprio.

Clementine Churchill: In the past, Janet McTeer and Siân Phillips have portrayed Winston's Iron Lady wife, but who better now than Meryl Streep or Cate Blanchett?

Pamela Churchill Harriman: In WWII, Winston's daughter-in-law had an affair with Averell Harriman, a top American envoy to London, while her husband Randolph was away at war. Actress Ann-Margret once played Pamela, but my choice today is Kate Winslet or Carey Mulligan.

Lord Beaverbrook: This crafty millionaire helped Winston save England from Nazi attack but was also a pal of much-hated Joe Kennedy (actor Matt Letscher currently plays JFK's father in HBO's "Boardwalk Empire"). No one's ever played Beaverbrook, the conniving fixer, but who now? Hugh Laurie or Ralph Fiennes, I'd say.

Kick Kennedy: JFK's little-known sister was BFF with Pamela Churchill and broke her Irish Catholic mother's heart by marrying British royalty during the war. Actresses Tracy Pollan and Shannen Doherty once played her, but today I'd like to see Emma Stone or Jennifer Lawrence.

Aristotle Onassis: He married Jackie after JFK's death, but the Greek tycoon was also friends with Winston and Randolph Churchill, who sailed several times on his yacht. Actor Raúl Juliá once played Onassis; but for now, how about Joaquin Phoenix or Javier Bardem?

Of course, this "wish list" of talent would be too costly all together for any movie or television series. But things can always change, as I learned from experience. On that long list of potential stars for "Masters of Sex," two names didn't appear: Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan - and yet they ultimately got the parts of Masters and Johnson!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What's New in WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys? Plenty and Here's the List of What You'll Learn

In WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys (Crown; October 28, 2014), author and historian Thomas Maier examines, for the first time, the long-standing relationship between the Churchill and Kennedy families, bringing to light a number of surprising and previously unknown items, including:   

Questions surrounding the liquor-stock deal involving Joseph P. Kennedy (father of the future U.S. president), James Roosevelt (oldest son of then-president FDR), and future British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
As Maier details for the first time, Winston Churchill obtained a lucrative amount of stock in two U.S. companies associated with Joseph P. Kennedy in an apparent “pay to play” arrangement, around the same time Kennedy received British approval to ship Scotch whiskey and other liquor to America as Prohibition was ending. A 1933 London trip by Kennedy and James Roosevelt, the son of FDR and another key figure in WHEN LIONS ROAR, to secure the liquor contracts involved a meeting with the financially troubled Churchill at his estate, Chartwell. Using previously unreleased documents, Maier shows how both Kennedy and Churchill benefitted from this arrangement and how President Roosevelt became alarmed when he learned that his son James was involved in this secret deal.

FBI records show Churchill favored dropping the atom bomb on Soviet Union in the early days of Cold War.
Shortly after World War II ended with devastating atomic bomb explosions in Japan that killed more than 100,000 people, the former British Prime Minister suggested, privately, that the U.S. strike first against the Soviet Union before the Communist-run government developed the nuclear weapon. According to FBI records, Churchill urged Sen. Styles Bridges, a conservative Republican active in foreign affairs, to push for a preemptive and devastating A-bomb attack on Moscow, a recent ally during the war.

The intimate relationship between Kay Halle, a sparklingly blonde heiress, and both families.
A major character in WHEN LIONS ROAR is Kay Halle, the stylish, fun-loving daughter of a Cleveland millionaire who had affairs with both Churchill and Kennedy family members. Behind the scenes, Halle played an important  role in getting Winston Churchill honorary U.S. citizenship from the Kennedy White House in 1963. Maier examines her affairs with Joseph P. Kennedy and Randolph Churchill, the Prime Minister’s only son, and how her influence with both families would extend from the 1930s to 1970s.

How a crucial and underexamined Winston Churchill-John F. Kennedy meeting in 1958 marked the beginning of Jackie Kennedy’s relationship with Aristotle Onassis, the Greek tycoon who managed to manipulate both families.  
Despite years of animosity between the families over World War II, Winston Churchill agreed to meet JFK, the would-be presidential candidate, aboard the huge yacht owned by his friend and ardent admirer, Aristotle Onassis. Once aboard, Jackie was shown around the yacht by Onassis while Jack chatted with his boyhood idol, Churchill. Maier details how Onassis exploited his Churchill connections and also recounts Jackie’s growing affection for Onassis in the years before and after JFK’s death.

How a Nazi spy case haunted the Kennedys for years.
Soon after taking office in 1961, Attorney General Robert Kennedy asked FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover to supply him with the case file against WW II spy, Tyler Kent. As Maier recounts, Kent was convicted in 1940 of stealing correspondence between Winston Churchill and President Roosevelt from the American embassy in London where he worked under Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy--information which later wound up in the hands of Nazi spies. Kennedy was mortified by the huge security leak and apparently knew nothing of Tyler. But records cited in WHEN LIONS ROAR show that the British feared Joe Kennedy, a notorious appeaser, might be involved in Kent’s plot and actually kept a dossier on Kennedy both in England and upon his return to America. Letters from Lord Beaverbrook, a close friend of both Winston Churchill and Joe Kennedy, underline the Kennedy patriarch’s lasting concern with that spy case and the Kennedys’ perpetual worry that the Kent fiasco could result in a political black eye. Twenty years later, the FBI acted quickly to please Robert Kennedy by providing the secret spy file on Kent as soon as he took office as the nation’s top prosecutor.

New, never-before-published letters from Jacqueline Kennedy
WHEN LIONS ROAR quotes, for the first time, several never-before-published letters from Jacqueline Kennedy, provide fascinating insight into the First Lady’s anxiety during the Kennedy White House years and those following JFK’s assassination. This previously unquoted material includes eleven letters from Jackie to Kay Halle, a family friend of both the Churchills and Kennedys, describing her time in the White House and the painful years after her husband’s murder. WHEN LIONS ROAR also includes little-known letters from Jackie Kennedy to Pamela Churchill Harriman, the former wife of Winston’s son Randolph and once a very close friend of JFK’s sister Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy before her untimely death in a tragic air crash. 

How Randolph Churchill, once expected to become prime minister like his father, may have suffered from an undiagnosed bi-polar mental condition that haunted his tragic life.
Winston’s only son suffered from an “illogical tantrum” that he described as “a physical sensation that arose from the earth” and left him feeling out of control. “If I can stop it before it reaches my knees I will be all right,” Randolph explained to Kay Halle, his loyal friend and former lover, “but once it gets above them, a black fog envelops me and I just don’t care what I say.” As Maier writes, Randolph Churchill displayed signs of bipolar disorder (then called manic depression) as defined in today’s medical literature: very elevated emotional highs with racing thoughts and talkative outbursts, followed by remorseful “black fogs” and feelings of worthlessness; irritable moods and little temper control; impulsive decisions and spending sprees; binge drinking and over-eating; compulsive sex with many different partners; and a false overestimation of self-importance. In an interview with Maier, Lady Juliet Townsend, Randolph’s goddaughter, said many of these symptoms were evident in his demeanor though never diagnosed professionally. “He certainly was a person who was very up and down,” she recalled in 2012, “and got more down than up as time went on.” His contemporaries, including author Evelyn Waugh, dismissed these problems as part of Randolph’s eccentricity or buffoonery, without regard for a deeper cause. Neither Winston nor his wife Clementine was much for psychological analysis either, and none of their correspondence about Randolph’s behavior, which included alcoholism, suggests it. Maier writes that perhaps the nagging sense of a family link--that his son’s erratic nature too closely resembled that of Winston’s late father, Lord Randolph Churchill--was too uncomfortable for Winston to consider. Throughout his own life, Winston had suffered from dark moods and depression – what he called “the black dog” – and his son’s behavior problems eventually became too much for him to bear, causing confrontations between the two.  Randolph died at age 57 in 1968.

Maier re-writes history to show the Kennedys and Churchills began as friendly acquaintances, not enemies.
Conventional wisdom concerning the Churchills and Kennedys is that the two families harbored an intense dislike for each other, stemming from irreconcilable differences over the U.S.’ involvement in World War II. As WHEN LIONS ROAR details, however, the Churchills and Kennedys began their relationship with several shared interests and mutual friends, including Winston’s American pal Bernard Baruch who was Joe Kennedy’s business associate. And contrary to popular belief, despite lingering years of anger and rancor during and after World War II, the two families became good friends once again by the 1960s. Indeed after JFK’s 1963 assassination, Bobby Kennedy asked Randolph Churchill to write the approved biography of his slain brother with Jackie Kennedy’s blessings.

For further information or to schedule an interview with the author, please contact
Dyana Messina at 212-572-2098 or at

Psychology Today: Winston Churchill’s Brilliant But Troubled Son, Randolph: Was He Bi-Polar? Evidence in New Book Excerpt Suggests Randolph Suffered from Behavioral Disorder.

Winston Churchill's son Randolph Churchill was viewed as a future leader of Great Britain, just like his father. However, this brilliant but self-destructive young man appears to have suffered from a bi-polar disorder, with psychological behavior that Winston was ill equipped to understand or do anything about it. 
This look at Churchill’s troubled son is from “WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys,” by Thomas Maier. You can read it here in Psychology Today.

Randolph Churchill with father Winston, sister Sarah, and mother Clementine

After World War II, Randolph Churchill, Winston’s only son, still believed his destiny was to become prime minister, and that the name Churchill alone would carry the day, regardless of the mounting evidence against his chances.
Many had predicted greatness for young Churchill a decade earlier, when he boldly displayed his gifts as a public speaker which seemed more impressive than his famous father. “He used all the colorful rhetoric and manners of Winston Churchill,” rhapsodized the New York Times about one of Randolph’s early speeches. “Except that he was more restrained in his speech than his impetuous father, the young Mr. Churchill showed conclusively he was a chip off the old block.”
Randolph shared these high expectations of himself. “I am not afraid to reveal . . . my two main ambitions,” Randolph declared in 1932. “I wish to make an immense fortune and to be Prime Minister.”
Despite his braggadocio and overt confidence, however, Randolph appeared tired and much older after the war. At age thirty-four, his smooth blond hair had begun to thin and gray, and his overweight body was still recovering from his wartime injuries. Unlike with his father, the election in 1945 had left him without a seat in the House of Commons and suddenly looking for a job.
In the past, Randolph had relied on writing, particularly for newspapers, just as his father had used journalism to earn some cash and promote his views in between political posts. But Randolph, caught in the maelstrom of divorce and a shortage of funds, returned to another, easier way to make money. Near the end of 1946, he traveled to America to give lectures, hoping to repeat his successful speaking tour from the early 1930s.
Americans still tended to view Randolph as the heir apparent, the next Churchill to assume power, unlike many in Britain with less regard for him. “It was perhaps just as well that America existed for Randolph,” remarked his cousin Anita Leslie. “It was such a large country to jaunt around in giving lectures—and Randolph remained excellent on the platform if not in private life.”
On the lecture trail, Randolph kept himself amused at night by excessive drinking and boorish gestures to women. “Britishly drunk all the time, soliciting respectable women at luncheon parties, etc.,” author Evelyn Waugh (“Brideshead Revisited”) complained to his agent after meeting his friend Randolph in Hollywood.
Randolph’s penchant for rapid mood changes—a sudden, almost violent intensity in his speech, followed by a period of mildness seeking forgiveness—suggested problems beyond alcohol abuse. Only Kay Halle, who’d known him since his golden-haired youth, seemed to recognize a deeper cause in Randolph’s psyche.
 To Halle, Randolph confided that “he could feel whenever an illogical tantrum was going to overwhelm him”. She didn’t seem to consider this “illogical tantrum” a symptom of mental illness.  Instead Randolph described to Halle “a physical sensation that arose from the earth” and left him feeling out of control.
      “If I can stop it before it reaches my knees I will be all right,” Randolph explained to Halle, his longtime friend, “but once it gets above them a black fog envelops me and I just don’t care what I say.”
     Randolph Churchill’s behavior displayed signs of bipolar disorder (then called manic depression) as defined in today’s medical literature: very elevated emotional highs with racing thoughts and talkative outbursts followed by remorseful “black fogs” and feelings of worthlessness; irritable moods and little temper control; impulsive decisions and spending sprees; binge drinking and overweight eating; compulsively seeking sex with many different partners; and a false overestimation of self-importance.
     In retrospect, Lady Juliet Townsend, Randolph’s goddaughter, said many of these symptoms were evident in his demeanor though never diagnosed professionally. “He certainly was a person who was very up and down,” she recalled in 2012, “and got more down than up as time went on.” His contemporaries, including Waugh, dismissed these problems as part of Randolph’s eccentricity or buffoonery, without regard for a deeper cause. “Randolph’s friendships were not very close friendships because he was so wild—people didn’t like to get too close to him,” recalled Adrian Berry, grandson of newspaper baron Lord Camrose. “My uncle Freddie [Birkenhead] regarded Randolph in slightly comic terms, not a person whom he’d confide in.”
  Neither Clementine nor Winston was much for psychological analysis, and none of their correspondence about Randolph’s behavior suggests it. Perhaps the nagging sense of a family link (that his son’s erratic nature too closely resembled that of his late father) was too uncomfortable for Winston to consider. Even Halle seemed ill-equipped to deal adequately with Randolph’s raw admission. “Kay tried to train him to check this crazy creeping temper at the ankle stage,” Leslie described. “But it was no good.” Kay’s well-intentioned but amateur methods—as if his “crazy creeping temper” could be put on a leash—were no match for the “illogical tantrums” that continued to haunt his existence.
Across America, Randolph’s bad-boy antics were followed by gossip rather than political columnists. In December 1946 he was arrested for reckless driving after addressing a women’s club in Connecticut. Rather than hire a lawyer, he unwisely conducted his own defense. He argued that his eighty-mile-an-hour speed along the Merritt Parkway wasn’t necessarily “reckless” because the highway was “one of the safest in the world.” The judge failed to see his logic and fined him fifty dollars.
Back in England, the verdict was even harsher. Both his parents, Winston and Clementine, could no longer hide their disappointment in him and his adolescent behavior. Randolph’s acts of genuine heroism during the war, his insightful advice as Winston’s eyes and ears in other nations, and the deaths of friends and colleagues in battle had somehow failed to mature him or season his judgment. In his wake, all he seemed to leave behind were unpaid bills and a broken marriage, with a six-year-old son who barely knew him. Unlike Winston at this same age, who spoke of life’s brevity after his father’s death, Randolph acted as if the party would never end.
Upon his son’s return to England, Winston let it be known he didn’t care to see him, an emotional wound Randolph could not bear. In February 1947, Randolph composed a heartfelt letter admitting his faults and acknowledging his father’s disappointment in him. “As you know the only career in which I am seriously interested is politics,” he said. “While fully realizing that I have made my full share of mistakes I believe also that circumstances have not so far been propitious. But I am still young & fortune may yet come my way.”
Randolph conceded he should have become a lawyer, just as Winston suggested, but needed to work as a journalist to pay his debts. What he could not afford emotionally, though, was the estrangement of his father. “Please don’t expect too much of me now,” Randolph beseeched. “Believe instead, I beg you, that I have no other ambition than to be ultimately judged an honorable & faithful son. No day passes but that you are constantly in my thoughts & I am grateful that you think so often of me. Give me your confidence & I shall not fail you.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

CHURCHILL URGED US TO 'WIPE OUT' MOSCOW WITH A-BOMB: Except from "When Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys," in the ICIJ website

Surprisingly voted out of office after World War II, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill privately became an advocate for an Anglo-American first strike atom bomb attack against the Soviet Union, as once secret FBI records indicate. Churchill’s 1946 speech at Fulton, Missouri, warning against his former Communist ally during World War II, set the stage for a new conflict known as the Cold War, which lasted for decades and still haunts international relations today. This excerpt is fromWhen Lions Roar: The Churchills and the Kennedys by ICIJ member Thomas Maier
Old Glory and the Union Jack draped the streets of Jefferson City, Missouri—the perfect symbolism for a 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 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.
At Fulton, Churchill rewarded Truman’s confidence with a stellar performance. Winston wanted to wake up America, content with victory in World War II and ready to return to its isolationist slumber. He warned that if the West didn’t act swiftly and with determination, another conflict, with the totalitarian Communist regime looming in Moscow, awaited them.
“An iron curtain has descended across the Continent,” Churchill lectured, wearing the honorary cap and robes of an Oxford don before a nationally broadcast audience. “This is certainly not the Liberated Europe we fought to build up. Nor is it one which contains the essentials of permanent peace.” 
Truman, who appeared next to Churchill onstage, had reviewed and approved the speech beforehand. Plainspoken Harry indicated its important message needed to be heard.
Churchill argued that Stalin’s unchecked expansion in Central and Eastern Europe posed the same risk for world conflict as Hitler’s aggressive Germany once did in the 1930s, when Winston was a lonely voice in the political wilderness. “Last time, I saw it all coming and cried aloud to my fellow-countrymen and to the world, but no one paid any attention,” Churchill recalled, almost melodramatically. “There never was a war in all history easier to prevent by timely actions than the one which has just desolated such great areas of the globe. It could have been prevented in my belief without the firing of a single shot . . .” 
Now, one by one, Churchill called off the names of European capitals lost to the “Soviet sphere.” He worried that this growing Communist bloc of nations would expand in the world unless a “fraternal association” (the United States, Great Britain, and the rest of “English-speaking world”) stopped its Cold War appeasement. He urged a negotiated settlement with the Soviets, to prevent tensions from bursting into an active war neither side wanted. “From what I have seen of our Russian friends and Allies during the war, I am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than weakness, especially military weakness,” he said, as if reciting lessons from history as he experienced it. “If these all-important years are allowed to slip away,” he concluded, “then indeed catastrophe may overwhelm us all.”
Truman stood and applauded, appearing pleased. Unlike his tempestuous relationship with Roosevelt, Churchill appreciated Truman’s frank, direct manner and the bold way he’d brought World War II to an end. He supported Truman’s use of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaski (killing some two hundred thousand civilians) in order to avoid an estimated quarter of million Allied casualties that would taken place by an invasion of Japan. The decision to drop the bomb had been “unanimous, automatic, unquestioned,” and made with barely a moment’s thought, Churchill later recalled. Earlier in the war, the British agreed to work cooperatively with the Americans on the bomb’s development, but said they wouldn’t use it unless both sides agreed.
“Let me know whether it is a flop or a plop,” Churchill wrote to Truman in July 1945 about the first atomic test in the New Mexico desert.
“It’s a plop—Truman,” the message came back. That same year, when Stalin’s expansion plans became clear, Churchill first used the term Iron Curtain, in a private message to Truman.
Public reaction to Churchill’s Fulton speech, however, swiftly turned negative. Newspaper editorials condemned his speech as rogue bluster, and columnist Walter Lippmann called Truman’s invitation an “almost catastrophic blunder.” The new president soon learned his nation wasn’t ready for another war against its recent ally Stalin and his Russian army. Going after the Soviets in peacetime was far different from finishing off Japan in war. Truman “pulled back into his shell, even declared that he had not known in advance what Churchill was going to say,” Time magazine reported. Backpedaling away from Churchill’s comments, Truman eventually offered to send the battleship Missouri to pick up Stalin so he could come to America and refute the charges.
Winston didn’t waver, however, for his true feelings against the Soviets were even stronger than his Fulton rhetoric. Since the 1917 Russian Revolution, he felt Lenin’s Bolsheviks were extremists, intent on a dictatorship that did not recognize God , property rights, or human freedom. “The strangling of Bolshevism at its birth would have been an untold blessing to the human race,” Churchill declared. He’d made similar comments throughout his career. “Bolshevism is not a policy; it is a disease,” he railed. “It is not a creed; it is a pestilence.” In comparing Stalin’s Soviet Empire to the defeated Axis powers, Churchill wondered if the Anglo-American alliance had simply replaced one great evil with another.
Although his own empire’s resources were depleted, Churchill wanted the United States to control the Soviets in Europe through the use of nuclear weapons. No longer a backwater colony of the Crown, America was now “at the highest point of majesty and power ever attained by any community since the fall of the Roman Empire,” Churchill judged with a historian’s eye. Possessing the most deadly device ever seen, the United States would “dominate the world for the next five years,” he predicted, providing an opportunity for America to act swiftly to set a course for future peace. 
The Soviets still appeared far away from developing their own atomic weapons, and would respect American dominance if exerted. Dropping the bomb—or at least “a showdown” with the implied threat of doing so—must be a vital tool in curbing Soviet communism, Churchill argued. He expressed these views on his own, certainly without approval of Labour Party leaders running the British government. Letting the isolationists, pacifists, and appeasers prevail would only ensure another world war, he contended. “The argument is now put forward that we must never use the atomic bomb until, or unless, it has been used against us first,” Churchill said. “In other words, you must never fire until you have been shot dead. That seems to me a silly thing to say and a still more imprudent position to adopt.”
Styles BridgesSenator Styles Bridges.Privately, Churchill suggested that America strike first, before it was too late. According to FBI records, he urged Sen. Styles Bridges, a conservative Republican from New Hampshire active in foreign affairs, to back a preemptory and devastating attack on Moscow. “He [Churchill] pointed out that if an atomic bomb could be dropped on the Kremlin wiping it out, it would be a very easy problem to handle the balance of Russia, which would be without direction,” Bridges told the FBI. 
During a “private conference with Churchill” while visiting Europe in the summer of 1947, Bridges claimed the former prime minister had “stated that the only salvation for the civilization of the world would be if the President of the United States would declare Russia to be imperiling world peace and attack Russia.” If this wasn’t done, according to the FBI report dated December 5, 1947, Churchill predicted “Russia will attack the United States in the next two or three years when she gets the atomic bomb and civilization will be wiped out or set back many years.”
A full-fledged nuclear attack on the Kremlin didn’t seem to faze Bridges, who’d been a sharp policy critic of Roosevelt and Truman. Bridges mentioned this conversation with Churchill only while talking to a G-man about “other matters,” according to the agent who compiled the report. It noted that Bridges “concurs in Churchill’s views and that he sincerely hopes that our next President will do just that before Russia attacks the United States.” 
Others close to Churchill heard similar bellicose sentiments. His personal physician, Lord Moran, recalled that Winston advocated a nuclear knockout blow against the Soviets during a conversation in 1946. “We ought not to wait until Russia is ready,” Churchill said. “America knows that fifty-two percent of Russia’s motor industry is in Moscow and could be wiped out by a single bomb. It might mean wiping out three million people, but they [the Soviets ] would think nothing of that.” Winston paused and smiled as he thought of this grotesque. “They think more of erasing an historical building like the Kremlin,” he added.
A few years later, before Churchill gave a Boston speech, Averell Harriman warned U.S. State Department officials that his old friend might make “politically embarrassing statements,” urging aggressive use of the atomic bomb as a negotiating stance against the Soviets. Undoubtedly remembering Truman’s retreat at Fulton, Harriman suggested that the administration get an advance look at Churchill’s address. Inside a crowded Boston Garden, Churchill didn’t call for an attack on the Kremlin but condemned the Soviet Politburo as “something quite as wicked but in some ways more formidable than Hitler.” He reprised his “Iron Curtain” warnings and portrayed the atom bomb as Western democracy’s most potent weapon. “I must not conceal from you the truth as I see it,” he said in a speech offered on television as well as a radio. “It is certain that Europe would have been communized, like Czechoslovakia and London under bombardment sometime ago, but for the deterrent of the atomic bomb in the hands of the United States.”
Since his days watching the sword-wielding Dervish warriors slaughtered on the hills, Churchill had understood the supremacy of machinery in war, over the courage and glory of individual soldiers. Some were surprised by his callousness about such butchery. “War has always fascinated him; he knows in surprising detail about the campaigns of the past captains; he has visited nearly all the battlefields and he can pick out, in a particular battle, the decisive move that turned the day,” Lord Moran wrote in his diary. “But he has never given a thought to what was happening in the soldier’s mind, he has not tried to share his fears. If a soldier does not do his duty, the P.M. says that he ought to be shot. It is as simple as that.”
At Boston’s Ritz-Carlton before that night’s speech, Winston chatted about the atomic bomb with his longtime American friend Bernard Baruch—who later introduced him to the crowd as “the greatest living Englishman”—and with family friend Kay Halle. By his side were his wife, Clementine, and son, Randolph, seated at a circular table holding teas, buttered scones, sandwiches, and Scotch whiskey. Winston mentioned that in the New Mexico desert site, where the first Trinity bomb had been ignited, a monument was being built in memory of those who died at Hiroshima.
“Do the Americans have a bad conscience because the atom bomb was dropped?” he asked.
Kay Halle remembered Winston’s “unblinking X-ray eyes” as he stared at her, looking for an answer. Kay was now an accomplished woman in her midforties and far different from the fun-loving blonde-haired department store heiress from Cleveland whom Randolph wanted to marry nearly two decades earlier. Since then, she had worked as a broadcaster, a newspaper feature writer, and for the Office of Strategic Services, the wartime predecessor to the CIA. Though Kay revered the former prime minister, she was confident enough to give an answer he might not want.
“Very many,” Halle replied, about the number of Americans who felt guilty about this nuclear holocaust.
Winston dismissed such claptrap, arguing that the A-bomb posed “the only deterrent to the Soviets.” He showed little patience with those who asked if he worried what God might say about the atom bomb. “I shall defend myself with resolution and vigour,” he argued, as if the Gates of Heaven might resemble the well of the House. “I shall say to the Almighty, why when nations were warring in this way did You release dangerous knowledge to mankind? The fault is Yours—not mine!” Yet in private, Churchill seemed disturbed by the moral consequences of this new warfare and wondered if its true meaning might be beyond his grasp. “Do you think that the atomic bomb means that the architect of the universe has got tired of writing his non-stop scenario?” he wrote George Bernard Shaw. “The release of the bomb seems to be his next turning point.”
When Lions Roar book coverPublicly, Randolph supported his father’s Fulton speech about the Soviet “Iron Curtain” and his firm resolve against communism in Eastern Europe. But in their private conversation in Boston, Randolph, always able to find his father’s weak spot, suggested that British “saturation bombing” of Germany during the war “was an almost equal horror” to Hiroshima, Halle recalled. Aerial bombs from Allied planes obliterated cities such as Dresden, Hamburg, and Cologne, reducing them to rubble and flames. To his family and friends at this Boston hotel, Winston recalled his moral reservations about these raids in which “tens of thousands of lives were extinguished in one night . . . old men, old women, little children, yes, yes, children about to be born.” Kay watched her hero speak with true humanity, “with tears brimming in his extraordinary eyes.”
From his own experience, however, Randolph knew the Russians didn’t fear that the Americans would strike first with the atom bomb. During a November 1945 visit to Moscow, he heard Soviet officials complain that the United States didn’t share its nuclear technology, but didn’t seem overly alarmed by the “imperialistic purposes” of Uncle Sam. “I asked them chaffingly whether in fact anyone in the Kremlin has lost a single minute’s sleep worrying about whether the Americans were about to drop an atomic bomb on Red Square,” Randolph recalled. “They were all too honest to pretend they had.”
Little did they know his father would drop the bomb if he could.
 'Let documents be your guide:' A Q&A with author and ICIJ member Thomas Maier