Penguin History of the United States of America (157 page)

For these voices of the people, see Leuchtenburg,
Franklin D. Roosevelt
, pp. 189 and 193.

A. Russell Buchanan,
The United States and World War II
(New York, 1964), Vol. i, p. 14. It is not perhaps surprising that so many Americans shivered on the brink once they saw that they had reached it, and Buchanan makes the excellent point that American entry would not have helped very much at that particular date.

R. W. Van Alstyne,
The United States and East Asia
(London, 1971), p. m.

Not long before, Washington had sent word both to Pearl Harbor and to Ciark Field in the Philippines urging alertness against saboteurs. Accordingly the planes on the ground were crowded wing tip to wing tip, which made them excellent targets, though not for saboteurs.

It was also farcically inefficient. Thanks to the skill of the Allied intelligence services, no word of the nuclear project and its progress ever got to the Nazis; but the Russians, who were equally or more the object of suspicion for men like Groves, early realized that something big was going on and took highly effective steps to find out what.

Bill Mauldin, ‘A Rare Reunion with Willie and Joe’; see
International Herald- Tribune
, 8 June 1978. The National Guard is the federal militia. Bill Mauldin is one of America’s ablest cartoonists; his GIs, Willie andjoe, are his most celebrated creations: he and they went through the war together.

Daniel Yergin,
Shattered Peace: The Origins of the Cold War and the National Security State
(Harmondsworth, Penguin edn, 1980), p. 44.

See above, p. 560.

This phrase originated because Roosevelt did not want all the political trouble that would follow an attempt to negotiate an Anglo-American treaty of alliance and have it ratified by the Senate; so the term ‘the Allies’ could not be used accurately (though historians may write of ’the allies’, since that is what they were). ‘The United Nations’ had a splendid ring, and need not, being a mere phrase, be submitted to Congress. It was one of Roosevelt’s all-too-many, all-too-neat methods of circumventing the Constitution in wartime.

The origin of the phrase ‘Cold War’ is uncertain. The journalist Walter Lippman has perhaps the best claim to its invention.

Subsequent history has shown that national independence is less at the mercy of atomic powers than was thought in 1945, when they seemed all-sufficient.

There is a certain irony in the fact that the number of returning veterans roughly equalled the number of the unemployed in 1932. This statistic sufficiently what might have been the result and policy-makers of the thirties seriously tried to spend their way out of the Depression.

This affirmation of Anglo-American unity was not unconnected with the fact that Britain was just then trying to win Congressional approval for a loan of $3,750,000,000. After the Fulton speech it went through easily on a tide of anti-communist feeling.

In fairness to the Republicans it should be stated that the committee was revived at the end of the war chiefly by the exertions of Congressman Rankin of Mississippi, a Democrat, and one of the most reactionary members of either house in any generation.

Dean Acheson,
Present at the Creation
(London, 1970), p. 303.

Richard H. Rovere,
Senator Joe McCarthy
(New York, 1959; paperback edn, n.d.), p. 123.

I take this phrase from David Caute, whose book
The Great Fear
(London, 1978) is probably the fullest and most accurate guide to what happened to Americans during the McCarthy years.

George Brown Tindall,
The Emergence of the New South
(Baton Rouge, 1967), p. 480.

Harry Truman put a stop to this (see p. 625).

Typical of its attitude was General Eisenhower’s comment on segregation in 1948: ‘If we attempt to force someone to like someone else, we are just going to get into trouble.’

It is a pleasing coincidence that, a century or so after ‘Brown’ and ‘Kansas’ had figured so largely in the crisis which launched the destruction of slavery, these names should recur in the case which began the destruction of white supremacy. Oliver Brown was a black whose daughter Linda had been denied entrance to a nearby white school. In view of later developments it is ironic that his claim for redress was founded on the fact that Linda had to go a mile by bus to a black school.

Gunnar Myrdal,
An American Dilemma
(New York, 1944; 1982 edn), p. 1004.

King actually made this speech in Washington, not Montgomery.

When I remember what things were like when I first visited America (in 1962) this simple statement of historical fact seems almost incredible, and the clearest proof that progress is really possible.

The word derived from fragmentation bombs.

When the satirist Tom Lehrer heard the news, he retired from business on the grounds that he could no longer compete with actuality.

This was a scandal as unprecedented as Watergate itself, but of course it was overshadowed almost entirely by the President’s misdeeds. The Nixon administration was certainly accident-prone. As late as 1981 one of its members (Earl Butz, former Secretary of Agriculture) was sent to prison for cheating on his income tax.

See above,
p. 577

All the same, Ford made his point. Since the collapse of New York would be extremely bad for business, a consortium of capitalists came together and devised a scheme for both rescuing the city and sorting out its long-mismanaged finances. This was surely better than getting the American taxpayer to meet the bills, which would have removed any inducement for New York to put its house in order.

The Democrats also carried Minnesota, where the Mississippi rises; it was the home state of Carter’s Vice-President, Walter Mondale.

Tip O’Neill,
Man of the House
(London: the Bodley Head, 1988)
p. 314

See above, pp. 451-2.

This was still much less than the annual rate of immigration just before the First World War, and since the total population of the United States had more than doubled, was much less conspicuous. But the local effects – in Florida, for instance, where refugees from Castro’s Cuba settled in large numbers – were often dramatic.

However much they moan, Americans are not heavily taxed by international standards. They pay proportionately less than the British or the continental European states although, country for country, they are much richer.

This was a mixed achievement. It was largely made possible by the migration from the central cities to the suburbs of the mainly white middle class, which took its taxability with it. As a result the new black mayors had to struggle with endless problems of crime, unemployment, bad housing, bad schooling, and so on, without sufficient resources to do so successfully.

Alfred Kinsey
et al., Sexual Behavior in the Human Male
Sexual Behavior in the Human Female
(1953). The humans involved were all Americans.

The assassin was another city councillor (‘supervisor’ in the local jargon) who had just resigned, but wanted his job back; Moscone and Milk were refusing to give it to him. He was deranged, working-class, right-wing and homophobic. Moscone was not the first big-city mayor to be assailed: a mayor of New York was wounded in 1910, and a mayor of Chicago was murdered in 1933.

‘Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on the basis of sex.’

But their good faith came into question in the 1990s when it emerged that some anti-abortion women had been known to take advantage of the law and have abortions themselves before returning to the picket-line.

Quoted in John Dumbrell,
The Carter Presidency: A Re-evaluation
(Manchester University Press, 1995)
p. 71

Ibid., p. 80.

In retrospect, this view seems to have been the most perceptive one.

The Russians only acted because they were afraid of an Islamist takeover in Afghanistan like that which was occurring in Iran; they feared that such a takeover would weaken their prestige in Central Asia and possibly lead to Islamist unrest in the Soviet Union itself.

Lou Cannon, quoted in Hedley Donovan,
Roosevelt to Reagan
(New York, Perennial Library edn, 1987),
p. 278
, footnote.

In some states the federal government owned even more. Eighty-six per cent of Nevada belongs to Uncle Sam, 64 per cent of Utah and Idaho, and 60 per cent of Alaska.

Quoted in Iwan W. Morgan,
Beyond the Liberal Consensus
(London, Hurst, 1994),
pp. 213–14

Strobe Talbott,
Deadly Gambits
(London, Pan Books, 1985),
p. 76

‘Contra’ was the name given to the Nicaraguan rebels.

Congress was to show a similar reluctance a decade later, when the question of President Clinton’s sexual behaviour and possible perjury came to the fore in the most preposterous presidential scandal yet.

During the Missouri crisis a congressman from North Carolina made an insufferably empty speech in the House of Representatives. He apologized to his colleagues, explaining that he had been speaking only to Buncombe County. This gave two useful words to the language – ‘bunkum’, and the less specific ‘bunk’.

This is a volume in the admirable New American Nation series. The Americans are fortunate in such enterprises, as they are in the number and quality of their historical reference books; but the New American Nation volumes are quite outstanding.

The only drawback to this otherwise excellent edition is that it does not have an index.

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