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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys" author Thomas Maier at CHARTWELL BOOKSELLERS in Manhattan for Book's Debut

A Personal Note About "When Lions Roar: The Churchills And The Kennedys." The Story of "Great Men" and Their Sons that Fundamentally Rewrites Our Understanding of the History Between the Two Dynastic Families

 “Have I not in my time heard lions roar? -- William Shakespeare 
“Some people pretend to regard me as The British Lion. But I am not the Lion. I am simply the Roar of the Lion.” -- Winston Churchill.
    From beginning to end, much of "WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys -- which fundamentally rewrites the history between these two families -- is a story about "Great Men" and their sons.
    As my research began, I happened to go to dinner with Stephen Schlesinger, son of the late presidential historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., who had recently co-edited his father’s journals dealing often with the Kennedys. That evening at Fordham University in New York City, we were speakers on a panel discussion about the Kennedy legacy. Afterwards, one of my own sons with a taste for politics joined a group of us for a late-night supper. Invariably, I mentioned this new book to Stephen, and he graciously shared his insights and arranged for an interview with his ninety-seven-year-old mother Marian. In particular, we chatted about a scene from his father’s journals that posed an eternal question.
The scene took place at a private Georgetown party in April 1963, shortly after President John F. Kennedy awarded honorary U.S. citizenship to Winston Churchill, recognizing the former British Prime Minister’s extraordinary life and devotion to America.
    Sir Winston was too old to travel to the White House ceremony, so his son Randolph accepted the award on his father’s behalf in the Rose Garden. Joseph Kennedy, the president’s father crippled by a stroke, watched silently from a second floor window. Many who attended the solemn White House ceremony later shared drinks and laughs at a Georgetown house party -- including Randolph, then-U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Franklin Roosevelt Jr., the namesake son of the late president, as well as others mentioned in this book such as Kay Halle, Averell Harriman, and Schlesinger himself. The historian later recorded his thoughts watching these sons of famous men.
     “One wondered a bit about families,” Schlesinger observed. “Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt were incontestably greater men than Joseph P. Kennedy. Yet Randolph and Franklin Jr., both men of talent and charm, seemed to have lived lives beneath their promise and capacity; while the sons of Joseph Kennedy, endowed somewhere with a capacity for self-discipline, had risen beyond their father, and no doubt, because of him.
    This eternal question – about fathers and sons, about families and fate, and our lasting impression of greatness – was posed again by Schlesinger a year later in an interview with Jacqueline Kennedy, shortly after her husband was killed. It’s one of many such questions I’ve kept in mind throughout this work.
     In broadest strokes, this is a story about the Churchills and the Kennedys, two of the 20th Century’s great dynasties, and the complicated relationship between them. What started out as friendly in the 1930s, full of promise and fortune, devolved into bitterness and death by World War II, only to be followed by a surprising rapprochement and symbiotic understanding in the 1960s between the scions of these two families. No matter how far they drifted apart, the Kennedys and Churchills never seemed to lose their awareness of the other. That so much of their interaction was largely unexplored or unheeded was part of my delight in researching this book.
     Politics, war, betrayal, ambition, greed, sex, religion, espionage, fame, corruption and the bonds of ancestry are all at play in this drama. Mostly, though, this is a tale about fathers and sons and the legacies they leave behind. In this male-dominated world at mid-century, we examine these powerful men, their overlapping circles of friends and associates, and the wives, daughters, and other women in their lives who loved and reviled them.
      Many books are devoted to Winston Churchill, Great Britain’s leader during World War II, and John F. Kennedy, America’s president during the 1962 nuclear showdown with the Soviet Union who was later slain by an assassin’s bullets. Both men, in a sense, helped save and define the world we live in today. They embodied the Anglo-American ‘special relationship’ over four decades. Yet the political and personal bonds between these two families remained largely behind the scenes, with their papers, including Schlesinger’s oral history with Jackie Kennedy, sealed for decades in government archives.
     Only now, a half-century later, do we have the vantage to put the relationship between these two families in historical perspective. The opening of former Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy’s files at the Kennedy Library allowed me to write my 2003 book, The Kennedys: America’s Emerald Kings, which examined how their Irish Catholic immigrant background influenced their public and personal lives. With this book, I wanted to tell another family story -- separate but parallel to the first – dealing with the Kennedys and the world of Winston Churchill, the half-American British leader. 
      Winston was an intellectual influence on JFK his entire life, arguably more seminal than Kennedy’s own father in matters of foreign policy, literature, personal courage and political leadership. As a young sickly boy in his Boston hospital bed, Jack Kennedy could be seen reading  “The World Crisis”, Churchill’s eyewitness account of the Great War, and he referred to Churchill repeatedly as president. In patriarch Joe Kennedy’s life, Churchill also proved a formidable touchstone -- from their first amiable dealings in England during the mid-1930s, to the rancorous charges of appeasement as World War II began, to watching from a quiet White House window in 1963 as his son honored his onetime nemesis.
     Although best known on opposite sides of the Atlantic, the Churchills and Kennedys often interacted on a global stage shared by many friends, lovers, business associates and political allies. These characters, some famous, some obscure, are crucial to tracing the various threads in their relationship.  For instance, Lord Beaverbrook, who loyally served his longtime friend Winston during the darkest moments of World War II, also secretly arranged with his confidant Joe Kennedy to safeguard his fortune if the Nazis invaded Britain. Winston’s only son, Randolph Churchill – once perceived as more brilliant than the Kennedy sons – counted many of the same friends in London as Jack’s beloved sister Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, including Randolph’s first wife Pamela and the famed novelist Evelyn Waugh. There are women who became family friends -- like the famous Clare Boothe Luce and little-known Kay Halle who were, at various times, intimate with both Randolph and Joe Kennedy. Some men like President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his envoy Averell Harriman would get to know both families well through politics and war, while tycoons like Bernard Baruch and Aristotle Onassis would provide the money and social settings for other important exchanges between them.
      By piecing together their correspondence and financial records, we realize the Kennedys and Churchills began on friendly terms – quite contrary to the common historical belief after World War II that they’d always despised each other. Their reality was far more complicated. Indeed, the two families were involved in mutual arrangements that benefitted them in ways never previously explored. The Kennedys’ initial contacts with the Churchills in England are essential to understanding the long arc of their future relationship. Masterfully in these initial dealings, Joe Kennedy showed an uncanny grasp of the subtle dynamics between fathers and sons, exploiting President Roosevelt’s eldest for his own advantage, just as he later tried to befriend Churchill’s own son, Randolph. The secret stock connection between the two families -- along with their interwoven circle of political and social friends -- casts new light on the origins of their relationship as well as the depth of their fallout as war approached.
Many other little-known insights about the Churchills and Kennedys are explored in this narrative. It delves deeper into the self-destructive Randolph -- intent on proving himself a courageous leader like his father – portraying him not simply in a series of amusing anecdotes about his drunken behavior. Rather we also see the struggle of a brilliant young man wasted by undiagnosed psychological problems, and arguably betrayed by loved ones as much as by his own excess. From a historical vantage, this story illuminates hidden arrangements with the Vatican, the CIA and Winston’s intelligence machine. Churchill’s monitoring of Joe Kennedy and other U.S. citizens deemed unfavorable to the British war effort led to a spy scandal that would haunt the Kennedys for years to come. Equally revealing, this story explored the many personal gestures between the two families –private parties and public ceremonies, the touching expressions of sympathy for tragic losses and congratulations for their triumphs – which reflected their shared understanding of each other’s grand ambitions and their joint sense of history.
No two families ever existed on a bigger world stage. They are perhaps the most glorious examples of the ‘great man’ theory of history, the capacity of one individual to make a difference in the lives of so many. They vowed to write their own histories and so often they did with their unprecedented media skills and manipulation. By examining these two families together, this book reflects so many tensions in their lives – between the diminishing empire of England and its superpower former colony, the United States; between Catholics and Protestants; between British rule and Irish independence; between the tyrannies of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia and the democratic Anglo-American ideals of our age. Their drama takes place all over the world, from 10 Downing Street to the White House, from battlefronts in North Africa, the Pacific and Cuba littered with human carnage to idyllic beaches in Palm Beach, Hyannis Port and along the Riviera, from the inherited castles of old wealth and nobility to the flashy yachts and apartments of Wall Street, Hollywood and the jet-setting nouveau riche.
This book about the Churchills and Kennedys examines a four-decade window into their world, beginning when Winston was 56 years old and out of power and young JFK seemed lost in the shadow of his father and older brother. While other works are surely more encyclopedic, this is the first to study their interactions together, allowing us a new unified insight into their relationship by comparing events and contrasting their motives. With wit, style and unforgettable determination, the Churchills and Kennedys epitomized all the blood, brains and passion that animated the mid-20th Century, the kind that drives political dynasties from one generation to the next.

-- Thomas Maier,
    Long Island, N.Y.
    October 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Chartwell Booksellers in NYC Offers 1st Ever Simulcast To Celebrate Debut of "WHEN LIONS ROAR" Tuesday Oct. 28 at 7PM

News From the Front

October 28, 2014

CHURCHILLS & KENNEDYS at Chartwell Booksellers

Thomas Maier To Speak About His New Book: WHEN LIONS ROAR, 7PM

Chartwell Booksellers, 55 E. 52nd St, NYC

Join us Tuesday evening, October 28, at 7:00 pm, as we toast author Thomas Maier on the publication of his stunning new book WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys, a penetrating look at the many ways that Winston Churchill and Joseph Kennedy (and their progeny) crossed paths (and swords) over the years.
Best known at the moment as the author of MASTERS OF SEX: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson - the source of television's Emmy Award-winning Showtime series - Mr. Maier will join us on October 28 to speak about and sign copies of WHEN LIONS ROAR. Seating is limited.
Tuesday, October 28th | 7:00 pm
Chartwell Booksellers | 55 East 52nd Street | New York, NY
(In the arcade of the Park Avenue Plaza building, between Park and Madison Avenues)

RSVP via email:

Please specify your name and the number in your party.
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For the first time in our history, will be also be SIMULCASTING this event live on our website, as well as offering it for download as a PODCAST. If you can't be here with us, do tune in.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What Nucky Thompson of Boardwalk Empire Didn’t Know About Joe Kennedy Before He Died. The Secret Boozy Deals of A Kennedy, A Churchill and A Roosevelt. Now in Time Magazine

The Secret Boozy Deals of A Kennedy, A Churchill and A Roosevelt. Now in Time Magazine:
The Real-Life Story Is Revealed in A New Book, “WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys” by Thomas Maier.

Boardwalk Empire, HBO’s television drama set in the Prohibition era, unveiled a new  character this season -- a fictionalized Joe Kennedy, father of future President John F. Kennedy.
The TV show capitalizes on the elder Kennedy’s long-rumored reputation as a bootlegger. His fictionalized character tells Nucky Thompson, played by actor Steve Buschemi, about his big plan to sell British liquor in America when Prohibition ends in 1933.
"Gambling implies risk,” the fictional Kennedy tells Nucky, “I take the risk out of it.”
But the real story about Joe Kennedy’s British liquor deal -- untold until now -- is even more remarkable than the one portrayed on Boardwalk Empire.
In his new book “WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys,” investigative reporter Thomas Maier reveals how the real-life Joe Kennedy secured his British whiskey deal with the help of an even better-known figure -- Winston Churchill -- as well as Jimmy Roosevelt, the oldest son of then-U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt.
As Maier details for the first time, Churchill obtained a lucrative amount of stock in two U.S. companies controlled by Kennedy and his associates in an apparent “pay to play” arrangement around the same time Kennedy received British approval to ship Scotch whiskey and other liquor to America. The two U.S. companies were National Distillers -- Joe Kennedy was its New England liquor francise owner -- and a privately-owned New York City subway company, then controlled by Kennedy and another business associate, Bernard Baruch, who was a longtime Churchill ally in America.
The secret liquor deal was orchestrated during an October 1933 trip to England by Joe Kennedy and James Roosevelt that included a meeting with then financially troubled Churchill at his English estate, Chartwell Manor. As part of the arrangement with Kennedy, Jimmy Roosevelt also secured the insurance contract for the liquor shipments between America and Great Britain.
Kennedy wound up making millions from the British liquor deal once FDR signed the legislation ending Prohibition in December 1933. Joe Kennedy later sold his liquor company in 1946 for millions when his son John F. Kennedy first ran for Congress and began his march to the U.S. presidency.
Using previously unreleased documents, Maier shows how both Kennedy and Churchill benefitted from the British liquor arrangement and how President Roosevelt became alarmed a few months later when he learned that his son James was involved in this secret deal.
“How Churchill obtained money to invest in these two American stocks so intricately linked to Joe Kennedy’s quick-hit investment strategy remained part of the overall mystery shrouding this 1933 trip to Great Britain and its lucrative alcohol deals,” Maier writes in a chapter called “The Deal” in his new book that explores the four-decade relationship between the Churchills and the Kennedys. “On their face, however, these transactions seemed remarkably risky for a man who had lost much of his fortune in bad investments, who feared he might lose his beloved debt-ridden Chartwell Manor, and who had previously relied on friends to bail him out financially.”
Shortly after Kennedy returned from England with the British liquor contracts, Churchill sent a telegram to Kennedy’s business associate, Bernard Baruch, also a longtime friend of Winston. “I bought seven hundred Brooklyn Manhattan T around 30, sold four hundred around 35, and am sitting on three hundred,” Winston wrote to Baruch on October 15, 1933, shortly after entertaining his American visitors at Chartwell. “Many thanks for the fruitful suggestion.”
For years, both Joe Kennedy, Jimmy Roosevelt and her father the president denied any joint interest in the British liquor deal. But Maier quotes a document for the first time in which Jimmy admitted the truth years later. “I did have the insurance account of the National Distillers, which I got basically through Mr. Joseph Kennedy who was as you may remember a good friend of my father,” he said in 1972.
The disclosure about the secret liquor deal in WHEN LIONS ROAR recasts history, showing how Kennedy and Winston Churchill were friendly allies until they bitterly disgareed about America’s entry into World War II.
“WHEN LIONS ROAR: The Churchills and the Kennedys” is published on Oct. 28, two days after the series finale of Boardwalk Empire.
          Maier previously wrote a 2003 book about the Kennedys and how their family’s Irish Catholic immigrant background influence. His most recent book, MASTERS OF SEX, about the lives of researchers Masters and Johnson, has been made into its own Emmy-winning TV drama on Showtime, now preparing for its third season next year. On Oct. 30, Maier will debut his new book at a luncheon at Castle Gould Hall in Sands Point, N.Y., the Long Island estate where the pilot for Masters of Sex was filmed in 2012.
For Time excerpt: