Booknotes & National Security Issues
The “Booknotes” era was framed by both the cooling of the Cold War and the heating up of the War on Terror. The Cold War, with its arms race, international crises, war, and espionage both inside and outside of the United States, was a popular topic, as was national security. "Booknotes" featured nearly two dozen authors of books dealing with aspects of national security, espionage, and intelligence. Several "Booknotes" interviews pertaining to these topics took place in the weeks and months after the 9/11 attacks, which made for some timely and interesting discussions.
World War II historian, Anthony Beevor appeared on "Booknotes" on October 24, 2004 to discuss his book, The Mystery of Olga Chekhova. Beevor’s book details the life of Olga Chekhova, the niece of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. Chekhova left Russia during the Revolution for Germany and had a career in Berlin as an actress. While in Germany she apparently served as a spy for the Soviet NKVD. The item shown here portrays Brian Lamb’s heavily-annotated personal copy of the book.
Former naval and foreign service officer and and author of intelligence-related books, Joseph Persico, appeared on "Booknotes" to discuss his book, Roosevelt's Secret War: FDR and World War II Espionage on November 11, 2001. This interview took place just weeks after September 11th, and the discussion between Lamb and Persico shifted to analogies between the events of that day and those of Pearl Harbor with respect to intelligence and policy failures at times. This item is a digitized version of Brian Lamb’s personal copy of Persico’s book.
Arthur Herman appeared on "Booknotes" on February 6, 2000 to discuss his book, Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America's Most Hated Senator. Herman’s work reconsiders the career of Senator McCarthy, particularly with respect to his investigations of suspected domestic spies for the Soviet Union. Herman explains that a new understanding this issue has been gained from sources such as the Venona intercepts (which began to be made available in 1995). Herman suggests that this new information supports the notion that McCarthy, though often harsh, inappropriate, and prone to exaggeration, might have been on the right track in terms of his suspicions of some Americans’ loyalties and activities during the period.
James Bamford is interviewed as part of the "Booknotes" Oral History Project in February of 2015. Bamford discusses his September 16, 2001 "Booknotes" appearnace for his book Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, from the Cold War through the Dawn of a New Century. The book details the NSA’s work in collecting intelligence and engaging in covert activities. Bamford's was a rare double author interview, appearing with another author of intelligence-related books, Jeffrey Richelson, less than a week after the 9/11 attacks. Suffice it to say, their discussion was impacted by these events.
Investigative journalist and CNN terrorism expert Peter Bergen was interviewed on "Booknotes" in December of 2001, just months after the September 11th attacks. In this interview he discussed his book, Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden. The book discusses the history and organizational structure of al Queda as well as initial efforts on the part of the U.S. government law enforcement agencies to obtain intelligence on the organization and its leaders. This item portrays part of Brian Lamb’s heavily-annotated personal copy of Holy War, Inc.