Friday, August 26, 2011


Champion tree:  Roy Lukes, Tim Sweet and Steve Waldron

Plum Island, Wisconsin -

A group of five hiked the interior of Plum Island Monday, August 22.   Our main goal was to locate two large hemlock trees that were measured in 1981 (see blog dated 6/29/11), large specimens we thought might be worthy of champion status in the county.

Accompanying me were: Door County naturalists Roy and Charlotte Lukes; Clintonville, WI teacher, and president of the Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands, Tim Sweet; and Island Schools 7th and 8th grades science teacher, Steve Waldron.   Each also has a high degree of photographic interest and skill, and we were eager to photograph whatever we came upon as a means of helping record both human and natural history found on this Death's Door Island.

Roy and I had tramped the island looking for the large hemlocks in 1981, trees that I had observed while hunting there a previous fall.  It was still a "Coast Guard" island then, and we had permission from the Coast Guard's Station Commander to visit.  This time, reflecting the official change in island ownership from one federal agency to another in the fall of 2007, we asked permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in order to photograph and study trees there.  By "study" we meant, in the general sense of the word, observing the condition of the forest, as well as taking comparison measurements of the largest hemlock trees identified thirty years earlier.

Except for intersecting an occasional deer trail on our cross-island hike, we were, in Tim's words, "bushwhacking."  The combination of numerous windfalls, patches of waist-high raspberry plants, a variety of tall wild parsnip (which we suspected would produce skin burns) and nettles growing up to seven feet in height (which did produce stinging, burning on Charlotte's hand), made us work to find our subject hemlocks.

Having observed these two hemlocks as recently as about ten years ago, I led the way, following a route from memory, knowing we would be in the approximate vicinity.   But after we searched without results, Roy said he believed our two trees grew much closer to a low limestone ledge.  We moved that way, and his hunch proved correct.  We had been close, but I had been searching for tall, bushy hemlock crowns, not expecting to find these trees minus their tops.  Both hemlocks, as it turned out, had apparently succumbed to old age and had lost their entire upper story.  We measured one of them, anyway, just as an exercise of interest, and Roy's special tree tape indicated that this tree was in the ten-foot-circumference range with a diameter of forty-one-and-a-half inches.

One of two hemlocks found
that are on last legs. 

We were disappointed to find these trees were no longer vital, although each snag still had a few living branches on them.  This island was logged extensively in 1985, a combined effort of the Wisconsin DNR and the U.S. Forest Service (BLM was island owner-manager at the time), and we wondered if the opened forest might have contributed to the demise of these trees?  Or was it simply old age catching up?

Roy exclaimed he would enjoy nothing more than to measure a living tree, so we set off in the direction of yet a third hemlock, one we had observed years ago near the southern tip of the island.  My memory was that this tree, thirty years ago, was a younger brother to the other pair, and it had measured in with a nine-foot-plus circumference.  So we trekked off through the dry, brittle undergrowth with drooping leaves that showed severe lack of rainfall this summer.  Even in in shady areas, leaves drooped, stressed by the dry heat.

Finally, after pursuing a few false leads, we located our third hemlock.  This one proved to be well worth the hike.  Roy once again removed measuring instruments from his pack:  electronic stadimeter to measure height; two tape measures, one for crown spread and one for trunk circumference with sharp picks at the tape's end to hold it in place in the tree bark; and a GPS to record the location.

Within minutes we had our measurements which Charlotte recorded and plugged into a prescribed measurement formula:    average crown spread - 56 ft.;  trunk circumferenceat approximately four feet above ground - 10 ft. 10 in.    Charlotte then added 1/4 of the averaged crown distance to the circumference in inches, plus the tree height in feet (57 ft.) and ended with a descriptive number:  201.

Checking our tree list for Door County's largest recorded hemlocks, this one edged the top hemlock at Toft Point, recorded at 189.225 points.  Of course, 201 is still an unofficial number until the figures are reviewed by the State.

When not examining Plum Island's flora,
Charlotte Lukes recorded
and totaled tree measurements.
Our Plum Island experiences were well worthwhile, despite our disappointment in learning that two trees were no longer vital, and it was certainly fulfilling to find this champion tree.  We noted that a huge lower branch of this champion tree had recently fallen, likely due to storm damage, which might have reduced the point total significantly.  It took down with it a nearby maple, the leaves of which were brown but still clung to the branches.

Old lighthouse measured, too

We chose to return to our boat at the station dock by hiking past old stone ruins and through the cleared range light field.  These stone ruins, we are convinced based upon early 1900 photos of the standing foundation, belonged to the first lighthouse on Plum Island.  This lighthouse was completed in 1849, before a more substantial and better-situated lighthouse was built on neighboring Pilot Island in 1858.

Roy passed his tape measure to Tim, and we took approximate readings of the foundation dimensions,  guessing in the stone rubble corners where the building had ended.  We measured 19 ft. x 29 1/2 ft.   The recorded coordinates for this foundation:  N 45- 18.22'   W 86 - 57.247'

Small traces of mortar still can be found between the laid stones, but most of the mortar has eroded over time, one possible indicator, Steve Waldron noted, of the relatively poor construction mortar available at the time. What are essentially piles of stones could, in fact, be easily overlooked by passersby.  Charlotte noted that the upland area north of the old foundation appears relatively clear, perhaps a sign it had been cultivated at one time, and toward the beach there is a sand and gravel ramp that slopes toward the water, perfect for hauling a boat or moving supplies to and from the beach and structure.

Tim Sweet standing inside foundation rubble.

Given our rough dimensions, this foundation's location, the materials used, and the old light's context within Plum Island's recorded history, we are even more strongly convinced that this site is worthy of further historical investigation by an experienced archeologist.

Terry Pepper of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association contributed information on the earliest Death's Door lighthouse in the FOPPI Summer Newsletter 2001.  Using information gleaned from research of structures of similar U.S. light installations of the same period, Pepper came up with a rendering of what the old Plum Island light may have resembled.  (See FOPPI web pages at  for further information on this lighthouse.)

Excellent weather accompanied us on our Plum Island outing, and we took a number of photos that we intend to pool with the Friends of Plum and Pilot Island.

Monday, August 22 - Tim Sweet, Roy Lukes, Chalotte Lukes, Steve Waldron.

  -  Dick Purinton

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Washington Island, Wisconsin -

Summer is winding down and vacationing families have headed home, or are considering doing so, in time for the start of school and related activities.

In the patch of woods between driveway and Detroit Harbor our grandsons built a clubhouse, or fort, depending on who asks, beyond adult eyes but not too far away from Gramma's kitchen and refrigerator.

Atlas, at 8, is the oldest, a self-appointed leader.  Then come the rest of the pirates:  Aidan, 5 3/4; Magnus, 3 3/4;  and Zander, 3 1/4.    When you are six or three years old, halves and quarters make a great deal of difference.

Among the first things to go up were the Club "Ruls" posted by Atlas, shown above:  

  1.  No crazinese
   2. follow derekchens

It would be well to post such rules in the halls of Congress, though they might cause just as much confusion as the Constitution.

Atlas adds decoration
to the clubhouse
A pallet for a table, chairs, stove grids for tree branch shelving, pirate banners and pirate gear from the Main Road Tent Sale were added to the clubhouse, after pine needles and sticks were removed from the "floor."

Cleaning out the club house, L to R:
Atlas, Magnus, Aidan, Zander
The best additions, though, were two cardboard furniture boxes dropped off by Hoyt, each large enough to make a shelter. Those boxes made it his best summer day yet, according to Atlas, which says a lot for kids who've often swam twice a day, played pirate on a raft we built together in early June, biked and fished.
Here's to summer and being a kid.
   -  Dick Purinton

*** Since publishing, I've had to correct three of the boys' ages.  Atlas is currently 8.  Zander is 3 1/4, not 3 1/2, and Aidan is 5 3/4, soon to be six.
Additional Note:  I haven't been absent, just working on other things, including editing an interview with an island citizen for publication here in the near future. - DP

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Joan Blair holding the U-Boat books she 
referred to as "her babies."


[Note:  To the recent series of pieces on the Joan and Clay Blair interview, I add this post of a recent, follow-up conversation with Joan to learn about their writing career after our 1994 interview. Clay had alluded to a new contract for another book, which, as it turns out, split the voluminous material into two books.  As Joan said to me, "You can barely pick up one book with one hand.  Imagine if this were all one book!"  
Joan and Clay had continued working on the Hitler U-boat book, to later be published by Random House as two books:  The Hunters 1939-1942, and  The Hunted 1942-1945.
  - DP

Q – I think that doing the transcript of our 1994 interview reopened my eyes as to all the work you did together.  It also really impressed me with the amount of detail.
Joan -  Yes, that was Clay’s hallmark.  He went into every single, the most minute, detail about everything.  He used to drive me crazy sometimes!  I’d say, let’s don’t do things to free the world again. 

Q – There are those who write history and do it well, but to tackle  a subject with all of the detail…even if you have all of the information in your lap, which it wasn’t…to assemble that huge project.  How do you make sense of all that?  And from Clay’s quotes, he didn’t know, either.  It’s innate, I guess, is what it is.

Joan -  Most of this was before we had a computer.  In fact, we didn’t get a computer until we had a U-Boat book.   So he would write facts, dates, everything on 3 x 5 cards.

Q – He had given me these (manila file folders with samples of U-boat movements, etc.), and said, “This is the kind of thing..”

Joan -  And then he’d collate all the cards, and then he’d write it out, longhand. 

Q – But even to do that from this, he’d have to know the story, and had an idea where he was going.  So much detail to not get confused or completely befuddled in the process.

Joan – Right.   No he was really a detail (person).  He learned that as a reporter for Time-Life, and Saturday Evening Post.  “Always ask the next question,” he used to say.

Q – And that was also clear in the tapes that he was thinking about other projects, some of which would just pop up.  Or others that made sense out of what he already had.

At the point I had met with you in 1994, you were about to finish the U-boat book.   What took place after that?

Joan – We didn’t actually finish the U-boat book (then).  The second one didn’t come out until 1998, and that was …He did manage to see both books on book store shelves just before he died on a trip to Washington.

Q – What is the difference between the two books?  The titles are similar.

Joan -  The first book is The Hunters, and that’s the first part of the war, from ’39 to ’42, when the U-boats were all over the place, rampaging around, and we hadn’t figured out how to stop them yet.   Then the second book was called the Hunted, ’42 to’45, and that’s when the Allies really got on the offensive.

Q -  So when I spoke with you in ’94, that decision had not been made, or hadn’t officially been made?

Joan – Probably not.  But look at it, how could you make one book out of that?  (Pointing to the two volumes.) 

Q -  They’re enormous!   Do you look back at that and wonder how you did it?

Joan -  Absolutely!  It took so long, we worked on that book for so long, over ten years between the two of them.   We consider it all sort of one.  

Q – Was there anything else (that might have been on the forefront) as this was going to press?   On the horizon?

Joan -  Yes.  In fact, we even had a contract that was on a book about the Americans who helped break the codes and then what they did after the war.   They were inventors who went into computers, all of that, and we had started researching that. 

Q – Kind of related work, but not for the military, right?

Joan -  Right. Not military at all.

Q – If you had a computer in 1994, would it have helped?  Wouldn’t it have been a nightmarish thing?  There was no program that would have helped, other than the typing?

Joan -  Right.  But that helped enormously.  (Before the computer) Clay would make a correction on a page, and I would have to retype the whole thing all over again. 

Q – You had an electric typewriter which had a little capability...

Joan -  A computer saved my life!

Q – If there was any particular book or subject matter that interested you most, would you have preferred that to military history?  Military wasn’t your background, although you had worked for the government.  Was that a natural fit for you?

Joan –  I was just fascinated by any...all of it.  I became interested in the knowledge about submarines, for instance, WWII.   I loved it all, and the research.  The research was really fun.  The interviews, while they were going on, were wonderful.  They we’d go home and I’d have to transcribe all of them.
Q – Fascinating characters, people who were at the pinnacle world wide of their careers, their military careers?

Joan – Oh yes, we interviewed some fantastic people, like the military guys, Gen. Westmoreland, Ridgway, Gavin, Ambassador Harriman, and in the Bradley book…and all kinds of people Mrs. Bradley wanted us to interview who had absolutely nothing to do with his life!  But, yes, it was fascinating, it really was.

Q – For most of those interviews you would travel to the homes and accommodate the person you were interviewing? 

Joan -  Yes.

Q -   A tremendous amount of travel and time spent in travel? 

Joan – Yes. 

Q – Anything else you’d care to add?   Was this how you thought you might spend your career?

Joan -  Well, yes, I guess I did.  What Clay did.

Q – If I remember correctly, your mother (Jean Rutledge, who often wrote book reviews for the Island paper) loved books.

Joan -  Oh yes…Mother and Daddy were both avid readers.  So we grew up with books and reading. 

The two additional books that were not listed in the Part VII listing:

Hitler’s U-Boat War:  The Hunters 1939-42, Clay Blair   (Random House, 809 pages)
Hitler’s U-Boat War:  The Hunted 1942-45,  Clay Blair   (Random House, 909 pages)

  -  Dick Purinton

Friday, August 5, 2011



Note:  This is the last installment of the 1994 interview.  Following is a list of published books by Clay Blair or Clay and Joan Blair, incomplete, but which I hope to update, along with a short piece based on recent conversations with Joan Blair.
 - DP

PART VII  (Feb. 1994)

Q -  Do you have thoughts of any projects beyond this one?  
Clay -  But I wouldn’t like to talk about it.   I will tell you that we signed a contract for a new book.  

Q -  I was just curious whether you’re exhausted  after something like this, or if it reenergizes you when you finish a book?   Your not inclined to sit around, given your past record.

Clay -  Its fair to say I’m a Type-A workaholic. 
Joan -  Yes!

Clay -  And so you can see, we’re not apt to sit around and enjoy retirement.

Joan -  We can’t even go on vacation! 

Clay -  That’s not true.   Last year we went on vacation!  

Joan -  But we didn’t just sit around.  We had to be doing something. 

Clay – Last year we went down to Florida, and we didn’t do anything.

Joan -  Oh yes we did!  Every single day.  We interviewed people.

Clay -  That’s right, we did.   I can’t help that.

Q – What is your feeling about this book (U-boat book)?

You must feel good about it.  First of all, being done with it, but any thoughts as to how it might be received?    You said you’re pleased, not that it becomes the definitive work on U-boats in Atlantic submarine activities, but that there were interesting things you found out that might change the view point of history?  

Clay -  I think the battle of the Atlantic was an epic part of WWII.  No matter how you slice it, whether U-boats were effective or not.  It was a huge thing without precedent in all history that linked the battle, the number of ships on both sides, the incredible effort at scientific that otherwise went into both sides.   The back-and-forth, weapons, counter weapons, was immense.  

The wrong spin has been put on that battle, and so we’re putting a new spin on it.  It would be my belief and hope that nobody could write about this war again without taking our point of view.  Because it really is the first…what is it Joan?  The first what?   

Joan – Nobody has ever gone through the whole war, patrol by patrol with the U-boats, and looked at the whole thing, the whole war, and come up with reasons why this didn’t work or that didn’t work.  
Most books, it's “Gee whiz, this many U-boats went out and sank all these many ships, and this was how they did it."

Clay -   "Gee whiz!"  Is right.

There are two kinds of journalism I learned in school:  There’s Gee-whiz Journalism, and there’s Aw-shit Journalism.   And this is…Aw-shit!  

That’s the one thing I learned from that journalism professor.   

Now, I’ll give you an example.   I’ve been reading this book by David Halberstam who wrote The Best and the Brightest and a lot of other good books.  He did a book on the 50s.   He’s got a chapter on the Korean War.    And he has relied almost entirely on Ridgway’s Paratroopers for background on Ridgway and The Forgotten War, in his chapter notes where he’s citing sources. 

Q -  Are you looking forward to getting back into something, Joan?  Or are you looking forward to that vacation?

Joan – (Popping popcorn while Clay leaves room.) 

There’s no sense looking forward to a vacation, because there ain’t gonna be one! 
Q -  There are only a few minutes left (on tape).  Is there any type (statement) of an overview? 
You’ve done these defense books.  You’re a veteran of WWII.   Many, maybe all, of the subjects have been about WWII that you’ve written about ...

Clay -  The Korean War.

Q – Yes, and even that book had key players from WWII.

Clay – That’s true.

Q -  For the first time we now have a president (Clinton) who was not of that generation.    What sort of differences do you see in the future, a different generation certainly that was involved in WWII than we see today?   Any overall comments?

Clay -  I think when our generation was going off to war, we were definitely afraid that Hitler and Mussolini and Tojo were going to conquer the world.  And there was every expectation that they were going to do that. 

So when we Americans, our generation, got into the war, we thought we were fighting to save the world against a great peril.  We all went charging off like knights.  I call it a crusade.   It had this ‘All or Nothing’ feel about it, and this attitude spilled over into the Cold War.   In other words, our generation thinking, “Well, here we are again, back in another all-or-nothing deal with the communists, and if we don’t do this or do that, they’re going to take us over just like Hitler, Tojo or Mussolini might have.”  

And so our attitudes developed in WWII carried us into the Cold War, our generation, and so we said, in apocalyptic terms, its “either/or.”   You know, either they’re gonna win, or we’re gonna win.  But now, the Soviets have collapsed of their own mismanagement, I think more so than anything we did.   Since they collapsed, we don’t have this all-or-nothing threat.   I don’t see it anywhere.  

So I think the world goes into a whole new era of relations and history that your generation will take over without that all-or-nothing feeling, probably, so that on the one hand its wonderful not to have to face the possibility, real or imagined, that its all-or-nothing.  But then, on the other hand, that was a great organizing principle, this threat, and now it's disappeared, and I see a tendency that everybody seems to be floundering:    What are we doing?   What is the purpose in life?  What is the purpose of our country?  Should we be policing the world?  Bosnia, Somalia…what is it we’re supposed to be doing? 

And I think that fact, plus it’s radically, absolutely changing the complexion of the population of this country…the influx of Latins, Asians, and so forth…who are of a different mindset from, let’s say, the old establishment, and the changes that will ensue from democracy.   It’s going to fragment us further.

Q – Do you see people today of the same stature as Bradley, Ridgeway, or anyone else you want to cite?

 Clay -  No.  George C. Marshall, who was the head of the army in WWII, Eisenhower, Nimitz,  King - head of the Navy in WWII...  people of that stature, maybe its because they had epic jobs to perform, they assumed epic proportions in our mind. 

Q -   Certainly not Schwarzkopf, you wouldn’t put him on the same page as Bradley? (Schwarzkopf had been rumored to be considered for 5-star promotion following the first Gulf War).

Clay -  No, I would not. 
And the publicity machines are bigger now, and people achieve instant fame sooner.   Often undeserved.   No, I certainly wouldn’t.  I’d put him (Schwartzkopf) on par with a lot of division commanders in WWII, not army commanders.  
The changing democracy, the unsettled role that America should be playing in the world, I think it makes a very unsettling future for you people, your generation.

End - February 1994 Interview 



1.     The Atomic Submarine and Admiral Rickover (Henry Holt, 1954). 
A crusading biography which led to Rickover’s retention in the Navy.
2.     The Hydrogen Bomb, Clay Blair and David Shepley (David McKay, 1954).
The weapon and the policy debate between Teller and Oppenheimer.
3.     Beyond Courage (David McKay, 1955).
Tales of escape and evasion in Korea about Air Force pilots.
4.     Valley of the Shadow, by Major Ward Millar (ghosted by Clay Blair) (David
McKay, 1955).  A single escape and evasion tale told by an Air Force pilot in the Korean War.
5.     Nautilus 90 North, by Commander William R. Anderson and Clay Blair
(World, 1959).   Story of the Nautilus’ voyage beneath the North Pole. 
6.     Diving for Pleasure and Treasure (World, 1960).   Adventure tale of the
Discovery of a Spanish galleon wreck in Yucatan.
7.     Always Another Dawn, by Scott A. Crossfield and Clay Blair (World, 1960).
Autobiography of the first X-15 pilot with a history of all experimental aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base.
8.     The Voyage of the Nina II, by Robert Marx (ghosted by Clay Blair)
(World, 1963).  In the footsteps of Columbus with a replica of the Nina.
9.     The Board Room (E.P. Dutton, 1969).  A novel set in the magazine industry.
10. The Strange Case of James Earl Ray (Bantam, 1969).  Biography of Martin Luther King’s assassin.
11. The Archbishop (World, 1970).  A novel about the winds of change in the Catholic Church.
12. Pentagon Country  (McGraw-Hill, 1971).  A novel about a senior Navy captain
and his anti-war son.
13. Survive!  (Berkley, 1973).   Story of the Uruguayan rugby team that crashed in the Andes.
14.    Silent Victory:  The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan (J.B. Lippencott, 1975).  A definitive work.  A Main Selection of the History, Military and Playboy Book Clubs.
15.   The Search for J.F.K., by Clay and Joan Blair (Berkley, 1976).  A close biography of J.F.K.’s younger years, debunking the myths.
16.   MacArthur (Doubleday, 1977).  A biography.
17. Scuba! By clay and Joan Blair (Bantam, 1977).   An adventure novel set in the Bahamas.
18.    Combat Patrol  (Bantam, 1978).   An action-oriented condensed version of Silent Victory in paperback.
19.     Return from the River Kwai, by Clay and Joan Blair (Simon & Schuster, 1979).   Non-fiction account of what happened to the British and Australian POWs after they built the Burma-Thailand railroad. 
20.    Mission Tokyo Bay, by Clay and Joan Blair (Bantam, 1980).   World War II adventure novel about the submarine war.
21. Swordray’s First Three Patrols, by Clay and Joan Blair. (Bantam, 1980).  World War II adventure novel about the submarine war.
22. A General’s Life, by General of the Army Omar N. Bradley and Clay Blair (Simon & Schuster, 1983).   Bradley’s autobiography, enhanced by independent Blair research.
23. Ridgway’s Paratroopers (Dial, 1985).   A history of the American airborne in World War II.
24. Korea:  The Forgotten War  (times books, 1987).    A definitive work.
[Note:  List is current only through 1993]

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Typical Blair worksheets assembled for book on German U-boat
warfare in the Atlantic in WWII show
patrols, boats, skippers and particular operations.


Notes:   This interview segment, Part VI, is about the Blairs tackling the autobiography of General Omar Bradley, and how that work led into two other, related Army books about the Korean War and Gen. Ridgway.  Then they took on an even bigger, more challenging project about German U-boats in WWII, using newly declassified German logbooks and records.   
There will be one (maybe two) more installment of this 1994 interview yet to follow.  -  DP

Q – About that time (about 1978) you moved to the island, then, right?  

Clay -  Then we moved from Malibu back to Miami. 

Joan -  But that’s when we bought the cottage up here, in the middle of all this.   But we’d been coming to the island in the summers all through the years.

Clay – We got married in 1972.

Q – I never asked, did you take vacations? You were working almost continually.

Joan – We almost never had a vacation. 

Clay -  Yeah.  That’s my fault, I think.

But we had very heavy...all this time…

Joan – We had to work like mad. 

Clay - When I got divorced, I gave everything there was to my wife and kids. I left with my books, and the piano, and the third car - the worst car, in other words.   And the alimony went forward from there, and we felt that was our first call in our lives, for years.   So all during this time, we scrambled financially to meet that huge obligation, and also live ourselves and conduct our business.   Tough.

So that’s one reason we’re working all the time. 

Then we did the Bradley book.  Do you know who Omar Bradley was? 
I knew him in the Pentagon.  Remember when I said I was in the Pentagon, when I was a young Times guy?  He was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at that time, and the way this all worked, you would see him from time to time on an off-the-record basis.   So I had got to know him when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.    And, I admired him a great deal. 

We got a call from Simon Schuster.   Bradley was trying to write his memoirs…

Joan -   Again.
Clay -  Again.  

And it wasn’t working out.  Simon Schuster wanted to publish it, but they needed a writer, and so, I renewed my acquaintance with Bradley in Ft. Worth, Texas.   Our chemistry was good.

Q – Was he still in the service when you interviewed him? 

Clay -  Oh, no.  He’s eighty years old, he’s long since retired, living in Ft. Worth.   And I write this book.  He was a brilliant mathematician, at science, he was very strong  at math, but very weak in liberal arts or writing.  He couldn’t write a letter, really.  And so we plunk in there.  This was a big project.  Big money.  Big responsibility.  Big everything.   Research.  An enormous amount of time.  I’m trying to remember how much.  Probably three years.  Lot of work.

Q -  Did he have a fair amount of things assembled?  He died in the middle of this, didn’t he?

Clay -  Right.  They did not have a lot of stuff assembled, but we could acquire it very quickly.   He was a five-star general, and you know you never retire if you’re five stars.  You’re still on active duty and give orders.  And so all you do is call on him and say, “I need so-and-so,” and his staff would request it for us, and then we’d get the stuff.   Plus, then we also got all his papers, his personal papers.  This is a very complex process. 

Joan -  We spent several weeks out there at Ft. Worth, talking with him, every single day, all day long.  Oh Lord!  How many tapes of him do we have?   Hundreds of hours. 

Clay -  It was a ritualized thing.   We worked all day.   We wrote the book, and he died in the middle, but we went ahead with it anyway. 

This book was a Book of the Month Club main selection, sold very well.   And, it was a trade paperback.   It’s still in print. 

We fell back into our ‘history mode’ that we developed in the Kennedy book.  We turned that button on, did very serious research in army archives and papers, other papers, oral history – all of that.   ‘Cause he’d forgotten everything.

Q – But you’re writing it all from his viewpoint?

Clay -  Oh, yes.

Joan -  We interviewed everybody who knew him, like Maxwell Taylor, General Ridgeway, Galvin.    Everybody, all the way back.

Clay – We tramped around in the Missouri woods where he grew up.   He had his whole family screwed up, the sequence of grandfathers, he had the wrong grandfather, all that, we sorted that out…in the census records.  It was a nightmare.  I mean it was not a nightmare.  It was totally fascinating.

Joan -  That’s the best part, is when you get to do all that, go around and do research and unearth these things and talk to these people.   I love that. 

Clay -  He was a premiere figure. 

Joan -  He was a wonderful guy, he really was.   He had this dry sense of humor.  He had a couple little jokes that he always liked to tell.   And he spoke to the master sergeants school out at Ft. Bliss, every once a month or so he would address them, and we went to one of those.   And it happened it was his birthday, his 88th birthday.   Mrs. Bradley had this big dinner party that we attended.   

We were with him day and night for weeks and weeks.  He was just darling.  He was the nicest, most wonderful person.         

Q -   When you are working with someone as you did, where did you stay?

Clay -  We were in the VIP quarters a block away, nearby.  He was in his quarters, we were in ours. 
Q -  The process of obtaining documents and doing interviews, are you gaining information for future books, maybe not consciously, but was it happening?

Clay -  Yes, in a way.  As it turned out, yes.   

One little side thing we did, we became interested in the role of the code breaker, as they would supply Bradley with information.  So we interviewed not the code breakers, but the people who were attached to each army, under Bradley, the army corps, who got this code breaking information and briefed the generals every morning on what the generals were (to do) each morning.   So we got very interested in those people. We interviewed all of them in the course of researching Bradley, with the idea we were going to do a book about that, and those people.  But, we didn’t ever do that.
So we were doing all kinds of things.  Then we interviewed Ridgway, whom I’d also known at the Pentagon when he was Chief of Staff of the army, actually before that, when he was Deputy Chief of Staff.    The idea struck us of doing a book on him, which grew out of the interview with him.   We realized, here was another great figure.  
So, yes, in that sense, this became a breeding ground, so-to-speak, for ideas for other books.   But principally, the Ridgway book.  

Joan -  THE Ridgway book.   When it started out, it was going to be a biography of Ridgway, but when we got into it, we realized there really wasn’t a very good book about the airborne operations in WWII, so that’s when we really got into the airborne.
Clay -  That became Ridgway’s Paratroopers, the whole American airborne in WWII, with him as the centerpiece.   

Joan -  But then, we had the rest of his career.  His greatest achievement was in Korea.   But that didn’t fit in the airborne book, so then, that’s how The Forgotten War came about.  

Clay -  It was really kind of continuation of the Ridgway story, which was an outgrowth of the Bradley story.    This is why we call these “the three army books.”  Because, as you’ve suggested, they were all of a piece, really, because Bradley and Ridgway were contemporaries, Galvin and all these people, and so we were interviewing army people for years.  

Q -  The Bradley book had a lot of minute information about troops, and later, the Korean war book was even more so.    How can you keep the dates and times separated?

Clay -  I’ll put it this way.  In the Bradley book, we kept the action at Division level.  We talked about divisions doing this and that.   In the Ridgway’s Paratroopers, which came next, then we went to battalion level with the airborne people, and that book is written at the battalion level, you might say.   In other words, we pick a battalion,  and there are nine battalions in a division.   In the Korean War, we stayed at the battalion level.   And the basic organizing principle for the Korean War was that it fell at the battalion level.   So that’s how we got the detail.

We first did that with Ridgway’s Paratroopers.  We don’t think of the battalion level as being of much detail, but it is, of course.  

Joan -  We don’t think of it as being detailed as to army units, because the divisions are big. 
Clay -  Yeah, they’re huge. We had sixty of them over there in Europe.   We didn’t deal with all of them, but we dealt with a lot them at that level.  I don’t think we did any battalion stuff in Bradley.
When we started with that Ridgway book, we were going with an airborne book.

Q -  Now we’re approaching the current book.

Joan – No, it was those three army books, and then the U-Boat book.  (laughs)
O, God!

Clay -   We started…  when we finished Silent Victory, the history of American submarine warfare against Japan.  People said, “Now, why don’t you do the German submarine war, because that’s equally of interest.” 

But you couldn’t do the book at that time, in 1975, because the documents had not been released.   U-boat patrol reports - this, that and the other – nothing was released because of the code threat, large use of code used in defeating the Germans.   It was still secret.  And we knew this.   Because as I think we told you earlier, we had revealed for the first time the use of Japanese code breaking in our submarine war.

Q -  It was still being kept secret by the Germans?

Clay -  No, no.  By British and Americans.  Everybody involved, assigned, never talked about it.  Nobody ever did.   Then this British air force guy published a book called “ --?-- Secret” in 1974 or ’75 and that blew the lid off, and he told about breaking the German code. 

Joan – But it was still classified.  They would declassify one teeny little thing a year.  It was ridiculous.  There’s still stuff in England they wouldn’t let us see.   They said it was classified. 
Clay -  Anyway, it was not possible to do this story in 1975, but it became possible to do it in 1987 because of the raft of memoirs that came out of that code breaking, and the Anglo-American agreement not to ever say anything was revised.  Both sides started releasing all documents ever concerned with code breaking during the entire war, like millions of papers - mostly by us (Americans).

So in 1987 it was now possible to do this book right. 

Q -  You started in ‘87, or were you still finishing something else?

Joan -  We started after The Forgotten War was published.

Clay -  We were in London.  We finished it (Forgotten War).  We segued right into the … 
Actually, we had already started in these interims … during the copy editing, the legal and all of that.   In those gaps we had started, plus the fact I had been accumulating books on the German U-boats for years.   So we didn’t exactly start.    I knew about it, the German U-boat war, not as much as I needed to know, but a lot.   I didn’t know much about code breaking, except that it was done.   It was a major factor in defeating the U-boats. 

Q -  This became the longest, the lengthiest process for you?  And most involved?

Joan and Clay -  Oh, yes.
Clay – There’s so many boats, and the war was so long.
See, their war was 28 months longer than our war.   So we had something like 2 ½ years of war to write about.   Plus a bunch of U-boats.

Q  -  Let me show you this, from March of 1993, a column from the Milwaukee Journal, and the headline is, “U-boats Struck Terror in the Hearts of Allies.”   It goes on to talk about the “wolf pack.”

Clay -  For goodness sake!  I never saw this.  

Oh yeah.  Drum Beat.  This guy, see … either a Florida State or Florida University professor wrote a book called, Drum Beat a couple or three years ago, in which he took…  

When the Germans attacked our east coast by U-boat, he took one boat which made two patrols to our east coast, and wrote a book about it, called Drum Beat.  The skipper of that boat is still alive, and he came over here, and the publisher did a PR tour.   They went everywhere.  And there were write-ups like this in the Washington Post, the New York Times, everywhere.  I assume that’s what this is from. 

Q – He’s now giving an overview of what (happened) 50 years in the Milwaukee Journal Greensheet article.  The reason I kept this was…the article plays up the psychological value of the wolf pack, the terror.

Clay -  Well, look at the headline they’re printing 50 years later.  That’s probably true.   This is not what I thought it was.  I’d like to read this.   Gannon and the U-boat skipper went on this huge tour.  

(break)    (tape has large empty hole with nothing recorded for quite a time, then picks up again)
Clay -  That quote is used by everybody, who wants to set up the U-boat as this big threat, and there are several other quotes similar.   It may be the only thing that ever frightened them during the war, but maybe he began to believe his own propaganda.

Surely, the German bomber offensive against London and Birmingham, Liverpool and Coventry, and all of those places, the blimps - that surely must have frightened him.   It was in our interest, our navy’s interest, to blow up this threat, so that we would have forces, the American people for the navy, for the huge shipbuilding program we were involved in.  Everybody. 

If you said, “Hey, that’s a bunch of baloney.  These U-boats aren’t really doing any harm,” that would take the service out of a hell of a lot of people, say in Sturgeon Bay, where they were building destroyer escorts, the Kaiser shipyard in California that were building liberty ships.

Q – Bottom line, what did they (U-boats) actually do as far as damage? 

Clay -  They actually sank 2800 ships, a lot of ships, 14 million tons.  This is over a period of almost six years.  But to give you an idea, during the same period of time we alone built 6000 ships of 42 million tons.  That’s just us.  The British built a million tons a year.   But the bottom line is, 95% of all ships embarked got through. 

We just finished … I added little thing on the last chapter, we were talking about…
 “In 1944, out of 14,000 sailings, the Germans sank 100 ships. “

Joan, do we have the last page of Chapter 20 anywhere here?  
That’s in 1944.  They sank more ships in ‘43, of course.  Sank almost no ships in ’45, sank a lot of ships in 1942, off our coast.  They sank 600 ships. 

Q – The Germans had the realization this was a propaganda weapon as well as a military tool?

Clay -  Oh, yeah.  All the German U-boats were great heroes in Germany, much publicized.

Q - Pulling up to the coastline of the U.S. must have struck terror into the citizens of those cities when they had a sinking?

Clay -  It did.  I think the U-boat as a terror weapon was unsurpassed. 
(Joan finds copy sheet and Clay reads from the last chapter of book….)

    “In all of 1944, U-boats sank only 13 ships of the 14,852 ships which sailed in 266 convoys.”

Clay -  I mean, we’re talking about 13 ships! 

Q -  All of this was considered the height of the U-boat activity, or is it on the wane? 

Clay -  Actually, I’d have to say it was on the wane in 1944.   We had totally beaten the Type 7, Type 9 boats that constituted the main thrust of their force.

Q –  Beaten them with sonar? 

  Clay – Everywhere.  Radar, particularly, airborne radar.  Sonar, of course.   Homing torpedoes, dropped from airplanes.   Depth charges made out of torpex (torpedo explosive), a highly powerful explosive.  HFDF ranked with radar, that is, high frequency direction finding.  When U-boats would spot a convoy, one of them would start a beacon so that the others could come to form a wolf pack, but we devised direction finding devices on board our ships, escorts, and we could pick up those transmissions, run out the bearing and sink the boat to prevent sinking by the wolf pack.  HFDF was really very important.  And, code breaking. 

Q – Your primary point of view is from the German, or is it from the Allied?

Clay -  Both sides.  Joan, is that point of view primarily from the German?  
For the first time, actually, the Germans have been given full treatment.  (To Joan:  That’s certainly true, isn’t it?)

Joan – I think so. 

Clay -  With all these sailing charts and everything…   We worked from German sources a lot.  We also worked from Allied sources.  

Q – Did the German sources reveal that they had a lot of uncertainty, that they lacked confidence?

Clay – No.   They were very bold and they were very .. right up to the last day of the war. 

Here’s the way it went.  First off, I should mention, they had 100% inflation in the shipping claims, the Germans did.  They claimed they sunk 4 million tons in 1943, but actually they sank only 2 million tons.     If they said they sunk 10 million, they only sunk 5, and like that.   And that was consistent throughout the war.  So that they were always doing half as good as they thought they were.  

Q -  Was this known in advance, or did you pick this up, figuring the amount of tonnage sunk on the records?  Was this a PR move on the part of Germans? 

Clay -  Well, no.   They actually felt they were sinking that much.    Let’s put it this way:  A German skipper would see a ship in a periscope and sink it.   And he’d say, “Hey, that was a liberty ship, 7,200 gross tons.”  But, it may have actually been a 1500 ton tramp.  Its hard to see through a periscope.

Q – So it wasn’t an obvious attempt to inflate the figures?

Clay -  In some cases, by some skippers. 

Joan – They also claimed they sank the ship, but it didn’t actually sink. 

Clay-  Yeah.  Maybe it didn’t really sink at all.  We knew this in our book, before we started the book, because our submarines did exactly the same thing.

 We claimed 10 million tons of Japanese shipping.  It was only 5 million.  So we knew about it all the time.   It was not a deliberate attempt at fraud, it was a difficulty of submarine skippers in assessing their own actions.

Q – I thought what you were getting at might be the submarine skippers put in their reports, and the Admiral, Doenitz, would multiply by two, and that would be the …

Clay – No.  What they were doing in the office – and actually they were very strict about this – they were passing along the claims without a lot of scrutiny. 

Q – Your primary German source then was the log book or series of log books, the Admirals records kept by him or his staff? 

Clay -  Yes.  Our primary source was the daily war diary of the Submarine Commander Doenitz.  That’s thousands of pages, and it has the position of every U-boat out every day, radio communications with the boat, what they reported, what they were told to do, all of that. Everything that you could possibly want is in there.

Q – They must have charted this actively on a board while the war was going on?

  Clay – Yes.   They did, the same way we had convoys up on a huge map of the Atlantic.  They had the same thing.  

Its really interesting, if you get down in the detail of this thing.  The Germans were breaking our convoy code.   And we were breaking their code.    So you could plot a situation like this:   A convoy steaming off, and we pick up a German intercept saying, “Convoy is proceeding on a course of so-and-so.  Assemble and attack.”   But we know the U-boat force is preparing to assemble and attack.   So they change the convoy course, and then the Germans pick up this change of course, and they tell the pack, “Convoy is changed here…”  and the Allies change the course back again, or to some other course. 
Everybody’s reading everybody’s code, so every move is like you’re listening in on the radio.   The difference being, the code breakers on one side or the other were either slower or faster in getting the keys and breaking the code.  And more often than not, we outwitted them.

Q -  You mentioned the similarity to the scud missile.

Clay -   Yeah, in the sense of its overall effectiveness.   The scud missile struck terror into the Israelis. 
Q -   As I recall, for six months this was ballyhooed as a weapon that could strike at the heart of Israel or any of the other neighboring countries and could carry chemical weapons, and it did have a tremendous psychological impact.   There was the one that fell on a barracks in Saudi Arabia and killed 28 people.    Aside from that, there were injuries but no deaths. 
Clay -  Just a very few deaths.   The scud, to make a parallel with the U-boats, the bottom line effectiveness gave the U-boat the edge.  Not a false claim, but an actual fact.  I don’t think the scuds did anything of note, except they terrorized.   The cachet about the scud was the same for the U-boat.  

People were terrorized by the U-boat, especially if they were riding around on a Liberty ship (U.S. mass-produced cargo vessel), where people sailed with their heart in their throat.   But, as I explained to you, the odds of being sunk by a U-boat were just astronomical.   And particularly so after a certain point of the war, and that would be September of 1942, after which the sinking by U-boats declined dramatically.   That’s when our shipbuilding program grew exponentially.    

END PART VI       -  Dick Purinton

Wednesday, August 3, 2011



Note:  This is a continuation of an interview I did with the Blairs at their home in February 1994 about their writing career.   
The Blairs had just completed Silent Victory: U.S. Submarine Warfare Against Japan,  some 1100 pages, when they did a quick book on MacArthur (400 pages), work that had led them to Hollywood.  After a few false leads with movie studios, they began research for Return From The River Kwai, a very fulfilling project about the incredibly unlucky River Kwai prisoners sunk by unknowing Allied submarines as they were transported below decks on Japanese cargo ships enroute to Japan. 

Return From the River Kwai was the 19th book of Clay Blair's and the tenth book done with Joan's assistance.  
- DP


Clay - About this time we got a call from our agent.  Zanuck and Brown were making a movie, called MacArthur, with Gregory Peck. 

At that time the really hot thing was a movie tie-in book.  You produce a movie, and then release a book with it. This [movie would be] selling big, and they needed a tie-in book on MacArthur, because at that time there was no objective, concise book on MacArthur, believe it or not.  So he asked, would you want to do that?  This was for MCA/Universal.   And so we jumped at this.
(To Joan:  I can’t believe we did this.) 

We jumped in the car.   They said, there will be quite a bit of research on this.  Zanuck – no, Brown – said, “Don’t worry about the research,” says David Brown, a very distinguished Hollywood producer who’s married to Helen Brown, Cosmo editor at the time.  

“All you have to do is back up a van, and we’ll give you all the research [material] you can handle.  Don’t worry about it.”

Joan – “Just get on out here.”

Clay -   So we get in our car and tore out to California, checked in with these people, and there is no research material.  It’s all bullshit, like everything in Hollywood.  They had no research at all.

Joan – What we walked out with was one piece of paper, and that was a biography of Gregory Peck! 
But no research for the MacArthur book.

Clay – That’s right! I forgot about that.  So this movie is almost finished…

Joan -  They wanted this book in 90 days.

Clay -  They wanted this book as soon as we could do it.  We wrote it in 93 days. That’s unbelievable.  I mean, we had to find a place to live.  My two teenage boys, Kemp and Bobby, they were becoming difficult.  Their mother couldn’t handle them, and so we took them on.  We took a townhouse in Malibu.  Really went Hollywood. 

And, fortunately, I was able to work out a deal with Universal Studios.  They had, actually, a terrific library, Universal did.  We found this out on our own.  And their librarian was a terrific gal, and if she didn’t have a book, she was plugged in to all of the libraries in LA, and they all knew each other.  She could get a book overnight.  Not a long library loan, but overnight!  And then we had a deal set up with either her or the studio, where if we needed a book she would get it and the studio would messenger it out to us in a car, to Malibu.  So that we had – we used a hell of a lot of books, and rapidly.  Man, we chewed through books like you wouldn’t believe.  

So, 93 days later, we produced the 400-page volume for MacArthur, to tie in with this movie on MacArthur.  It was a phenomenal thing, it really was.  Just unbelievable.

Q -  Do you ever wonder?  Were you sweating bullets about having to produce this thing?

Clay -  Nope.  Just writing like crazy.

Joan -  We just sat there and did it.

Clay -  And, very rapid-like.  Remember, I told you at the time I could write very rapidly?  And how fast I am?   Well, we wrote Survive! in four weeks.   This took longer.  93 days.  

And this was published, the way it worked out, by Pocketbooks in paperback.  Pocketbooks was a division of Simon and Schuster at that time.  And the movie came out.  It was terrible.  We saw the movie.  Terrible movie.  

But a good book.  The book was far better than the movie, and the book got a little life in its own. 
This was the first one-volume, objective biography on MacArthur.  People writing about MacArthur can’t be objective: They’re either pro-MacArthur or nay- MacArthur, and quite strongly.  We were right down the middle, and we covered all the essentials of his life. 

Joan -  And even the Military Book Club picked it up.

Clay -  Yeah, and it was a strange thing.  The Military Book Club, which is a pretty big club, they read the book and said, “We’d like to bring it out in hardback.”  So they did.  They picked up the paperback and published it in hardback for the club.  And it’s still being sold.   And that book sold abroad, as well.   England, London.  So, that’s the story of that.  There’s not much else to tell about that, but…

So, there we were, sitting in Hollywood.   This place…we won’t go into all that…we were in this deal and that deal.  Just like (in) all the movies.   A lot of these things do get into the development stage, but very few get completed.  

We got involved in this wild thing, which is too complicated to go into, but basically a convict came to Universal and claimed that he knew who D.B. Cooper was.   

Do you know who D.B. Cooper is?   OK.   

He knew, because he was in jail in Atlanta with D.B. Cooper on another charge, earlier, and they planned this thing in jail.  Or something.  So, this guy was in for murder, our “source.”  So, anyhow, Universal hired us to investigate this.  Because I guess they were leery, they didn’t know what to think.   Most people don’t know anything about “facts.”  They didn’t know anything about this.

Joan -  So, if it was true, we would write a book about it, and they would make a movie about it.  But they didn’t want to do that unless it was true, so they hired us to investigate it.  So Clay took off and went all over the country investigating this, on the trail of D.B. Cooper.  And he decided it definitely was not true.  So that killed that golden egg.

Clay -  Yeah. (laughs)  We could have made millions out of it.   

Joan - But the FBI naturally got on the scent of this, and we had the FBI in our front living room, off and on, for the next several months.   Clay found out more than the FBI knew about it.  He was telling what he found out…it was the craziest thing.

Clay – Typical Hollywood.  They had actually established a development number. That means you can charge things to that number. 

(To Joan)  Remember that fraud?   This other guy played a huge scam on Universal.  They were milking that charge number, remember that?  We played it straight, and we got paid for doing it.
Joan -  Yeah. They paid rather well.

Clay -   Basically, it was a scam being played on Universal, and we kept them from being scammed, to a huge extent.
Joan -  After about a year of doing this sort of thing, we wanted to get back into writing, to get out of there.    

Clay -  Hated it.

Joan -  Anyhow, Mark, the Random House guy, cut out the action patrols from Silent Victory, the submarine patrols, and made a paperback out of that called, “Combat Patrols.” 

Clay -  A mass paperback.  

There’s two different kinds of paperbacks, the quality paperback, which is called a “treatment,” which is like those on the shelf over there.  (points)   And then there’s the mass market paperback.    They had done a trade paperback of Silent Victory and had done a really nice job.  Now they thought it would be ideal to do a mass marketed paperback.  Just cut the hell out of it and boil it down to a bunch of action.

And we did that! 

Joan -  And we did that.  And while Clay was doing that, we ran across this story about submarines sinking the ships on which were survivors of the men who built the bridge on the River Kwai.
Clay -  That was (referenced) in Silent Victory: The U.S. Submarine War Against Japan, but only a paragraph.
Joan -  So Clay says to himself, “I wonder if we could find those guys.” 
So that was the beginning of Return From The River Kwai.

Q -  And, 600 some interviews?

Clay – Oh, no.    I went to England.  I went to Australia.  I found all these people, which is a whole other story that I won’t get into.   But while I was in England, you (looks at Joan) interviewed people in San Diego, and out west.  

This was in 1978, about.   And when I went to these places in England, the homes were bombed out and there’s nothing there.   I developed a technique, finding these people by accident, the oldest person on the block, asking, “Do you know so-and-so?”   (“Yeah.”)   “Do you know where they are?”   (“They moved to Kent, or wherever.”)
I was chasing all over and found them, except for London – too urban, neighborhoods changed.     

But, luckily, I met this retired army major who worked at Thames at Six-TV, and that’s like “ABC News at 6.”   In England, it was Thames at Six, and he talked to his producer friend and got me on.   I was the lead thing on the news on Thames at Six.   For about a five-minute segment.   I had on a survivor from somewhere else I had found, and they started off with clips of this movie, Bridge Over The River Kwai, and it got everybody’s attention.   And I appealed to all those survivors from this ship, to please call me at the station so I can find you.

And, Holy Shit!   People got mixed up about what I was talking about.   Thousands of calls are coming in.   It kept everybody on the staff of Thames at Six busy from 6 until about 10 o’clock that night,  making these huge lists of people, and it was phenomenal.  (But) I found everybody.  It was an incredible thing!  
Meanwhile, this movie producer was watching Thames at Six.   He got very intrigued, and later on he contacted us and made a movie for us. 
Anyway, we found our interviews, and I left London and went to Australia.  And having had that experience (in England) I went right away to the newspaper in Sydney.  It turned out the editor was somehow involved with the (army) reserves, and he put a big thing in the paper:  “Blair is looking for these heroes.”   And that got immediate results, and moreover, it got me on Johnny Carson and the Merv Griffin show in Australia, and a couple other radio deals, TV.   And so the next thing you know, everybody’s calling me.   I found everybody!  In one day!

In two days I had all their names and addresses.  I interviewed these people like on an assembly line basis.  I had a room in a hotel and interviewed 9, 10  people straight through the day.

Q -  When you have a story like that so vital to each person because it meant their life, doesn’t everybody want to repeat their story,  their version?  It can become very time consuming?

Clay -  Yes.   Just like you’re doing with me, I would let them tell their own story.  Yes, it was time consuming, but those tapes were the most wonderful.

Joan – Yes they are.  Especially the British ones, because so many were from little coal mining towns, or something.   They were very repressed, sort of private people, and I don’t know how many of them broke down and they cried, probably the first time they ever talked about it.  You can hear their families, their wives, and their children who would be in the room with them, and they had never heard this.  They never heard any of this before. 

Clay -  Just remarkable.  Particularly the British.  The Australians were much more open.  

Joan -  The British.  It was just amazing to listen to those tapes.

Clay -  We came back and put together both books, rather quickly, and just as we were finishing, this movie producer showed up from London.  We were in LA, still, Malibu, and we made a deal with him, and part of the deal was we would write the screenplay, which we did while the book was being processed.  And we worked with this producer for weeks, and then we came up here.   

Q – Was this released as a British film?

Clay -  No.   This book was also a Literary Guild book, and the Military Book Club.   It sold well here.   The movie went ahead.  It took ten years to make the movie, ’88.  And we sort of gave up on the movie.   But we had all our money out of it.   He had a terrible time trying to get it financed, filmed, shooting with cast.  It just went on and on, and he lost his support from different people.  It had nothing to do with us.   But he finally made this damn movie.   And, it’s not a very good movie.
Joan -  You can’t see it in the United States.  It’s a tediously long, boring story.

Clay -  He’s enjoined in the United States.  He’s not been able to release it here.  It’s still in the court. 

Joan -  He sent us a taped video of it.  We’ve seen it, and its really a lousy movie.  
That was that.  Then what did we write?