Maxwell Taylor - History

Maxwell Taylor - History

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Maxwell Taylor

1901- 1987

Military Officer

Maxwell Taylor graduated from West Point in 1922, and helped organize the first Army Airborne Division in the early years of World War II. In 1943, Taylor was cited for bravery for risking his life by crossing enemy lines a day before the Allied invasion of Italy to discuss the possible seizure of Roman airfields with Italian leaders. Taylor also led the 101st Airborne Division during assaults on Normandy and the Netherlands.

In 1953, he directed the UN forces and was commanding general of the 8th Army in Korea. Appointed Chief of Staff in 1955, he became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962, then US Ambassador to South Vietnam in 1964.

Taylor urged President Johnson to expand American involvement in Vietnam, and was thus one of the most important influences on the expansion of the war.

Maxwell Davenport Taylor

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Maxwell Davenport Taylor, (born August 26, 1901, Keytesville, Missouri, U.S.—died April 19, 1987, Washington, D.C.), U.S. Army officer who became a pioneer in airborne warfare in Europe during World War II and who later served as U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam during the early years of the Vietnam War.

A 1922 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, Taylor went on to study at the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and at the Army War College in Washington, D.C. Taylor assisted in the organization of the U.S. Army’s first airborne division, the 82nd, early in World War II and was its artillery commander during the Sicilian and Italian campaigns. At great personal risk, he passed through enemy lines 24 hours before the Allied invasion of Italy (1943) to confer with Italian leaders about the possibility of conducting an airborne assault on Rome. In March 1944, just prior to the Normandy Invasion, he took command of the 101st Airborne Division. He joined its parachute assault before dawn on D-Day (June 6, 1944) and led the division in the disastrous Arnhem operation in the Netherlands (September 1944). Taylor’s division gained wide fame for its defense of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge late in 1944.

After the war Taylor was superintendent of West Point (1945–49). As commanding general of the Eighth Army in 1953, Taylor directed United Nations forces in Korea during the closing phases of the Korean War. He then served as army chief of staff (1955–59), in which post he was an early advocate of the strategic doctrine of “flexible response,” which emphasized the maintenance of conventional infantry forces as a prudent wartime alternative to the all-out use of nuclear weapons. He was appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962 by Pres. John F. Kennedy, to whom he was a trusted adviser. Two years later he became U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam, which at that time was being given increasing military support by the United States. He resigned that post in July 1965 but served as a special consultant (1965–69) to Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson. Taylor published two volumes on national security: The Uncertain Trumpet (1960) and Precarious Security (1976).

This article was most recently revised and updated by Michael Ray, Editor.

GBH Openvault

Maxwell D. (Maxwell Davenport) Taylor, a United States Army General and diplomat, discusses briefly his Korean War experience and how that helped him in Vietnam. Taylor explains that when he first retired in 1959 he never thought the United States would become involved in Vietnam. Taylor recalls the Geneva Agreements in 1954 and that he disagreed with Eisenhower’s decision about Dien Bien Phu. Taylor also discusses his impressions of Diem and how Taylor alleges the United States pulled the rug out from Diem, which created chaos that Taylor inherited when he became ambassador. Taylor recalls the Tonkin Gulf and the lessons of Vietnam.

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Interview with Maxwell D. (Maxwell Davenport) Taylor, 1979 [Part 2 of 4]

This 13 part series covers the history of Vietnam from France's colonial control, through the 1945 revolution, to the 1975 U.S. evacuation from Saigon and the years beyond. The series' objective approach permits viewers to form their own conclusions about the war. 101--Roots of a War--Despite cordial relations between American intelligence officers and Communist leader Ho Chi Minh in the turbulent closing months of World War II, French and British hostility to the Vietnamese revolution laid the groundwork for a new war. 102--The First Vietnam War (1946-1954)--The French generals expected to defeat Ho's rag-tag Vietminh guerrillas easily, but after eight years of fighting and $2.5 billion in U.S. aid, the French lost a crucial battle at Dienbienphu--and with it, their Asian empire. 103--America's Mandarin (1954-1963)--To stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia, America replaced France in South Vietnam--supporting autocratic President Ngo Dinyh Diem until his own generals turned against him in a coup that brought political chaos to Saigon. 104--LBJ Goes to War (1964-1965)--With Ho Chi Minh determined to reunite Vietnam, Lyndon Baines Johnson determined to prevent it, and South Vietnam on the verge of collapse, the stage was set for massive escalation of the undeclared Vietnam War. 105--America Takes Charge (1965-1967)--In two years, the Johnson Administration's troop build-up dispatched 1.5 million Americans to Vietnam to fight a war they found baffling, tedious, exciting, deadly and unforgettable. 106--America's Enemy (1954-1967)--The Vietnam War as seen from different perspectives: by Vietcong guerrillas and sympathizers by North Vietnamese leaders by rank and file and by American held prisoner in Hanoi. 107--Tet (1968)--The massive enemy offensive at the Lunar New Year decimated the Vietcong and failed to topple the Saigon government, but led to the beginning of America's military withdrawal. 108--Vietnamizing the War (1968-1973)--President Nixon's program of troop pull-outs, stepped-up bombing and huge arms shipments to Saigon changed the war, and left GI's wondering which of them would be the last to die in Vietnam. 109--Cambodia and Laos--Despite technical neutrality, both of Vietnam's smaller neighbors were drawn into the war, suffered massive bombing, and in the case of Cambodia, endured a post-war holocaust of nightmare proportions. 110--Peace is at Hand (1968-1973)--While American and Vietnamese continued to clash in battle, diplomats in Paris argued about making peace, after more than four years reaching an accord that proved to be a preface to further bloodshed. 111--Homefront USA--Americans at home divide over a distant war, clashing in the streets as demonstrations lead to bloodshed, bitterness and increasing doubts about the outcome. 112--The End of the Tunnel (1973-1975)--Through troubled years of controversy and violence, U.S. casualties mounted, victory remained elusive and American opinion moved from general approval to general dissatisfaction with the Vietnam war. 113--Legacies--Vietnam is in the Soviet orbit, poorer than ever, at war on two fronts America's legacy includes more than one half million Asian refugees, one half million Vietnam veterans and some questions that won't go away. Series release date: 9/1983

No materials may be re-used without references to appearance releases and WGBH/UMass Boston contract. 2) It is the liability of a production to investigate and re-clear all rights before re-use in any project. Rights Holder: WGBH Educational Foundation

How General Taylor Made the Case for Combat Troops in Vietnam

Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor had a greater influence than any other military officer on America’s decision to go to war in Vietnam—and on the early strategy to fight that conflict. The strategic framework he helped establish, and the key assumptions upon which it was based, cast a long shadow over U.S. military operations all the way through to 1975.

When Taylor retired from the military in July 1959, after serving as the chief of staff of the U.S. Army, he was one of the most well-known generals in America. The commander of the 101st Airborne Division when it jumped into Normandy on June 5-6, 1944, Taylor, along with Matthew B. Ridgway and James M. Gavin, formed a trio of legendary airborne generals. Throughout the 1950s, all three were leading voices among the “Never Again” bloc of senior military leaders who had seen the disastrous experience of the Korean War and vowed that the United States should never again fight a ground war on the Asian mainland.

As Army chief of staff in 1954, Ridgway had dissented from a Joint Chiefs of Staff proposal to use American air power to save the French garrison in Vietnam at Dien Bien Phu, under attack by Viet Minh forces fighting for independence from France. Ridgway, a four-star general, and Gavin, a lieutenant general, remained critics of the Vietnam War right until the end, and some detractors branded them “dove generals.” Taylor, however, changed course in the early 1960s to become the chief military enabler of American involvement in Vietnam.

All three generals had something else in common during the 1950s. They were staunch critics of the “New Look” national defense policy of their former wartime commander and the current president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Focused on containing defense costs, New Look shifted the national emphasis from conventional ground forces to air and nuclear-capable forces, embodied in the Strategic Air Command. The resulting doctrine of “massive retaliation” was based on the premise of “more bang for the buck,” but it was really an all-or-nothing strategic straitjacket.

Ridgway opposed Eisenhower’s plans to reduce the size of the Army, arguing that air power and nuclear weapons did not eliminate or even reduce the need for robust ground forces capable of seizing territory and controlling populations. The tensions between the Army chief of staff and the president rose to such a point that Eisenhower did not retain Ridgway for a second two-year term in office—he picked Taylor as his new chief of staff in June 1955.

Gavin, too, was a staunch critic of massive retaliation. During an appearance in January 1958 before the Senate Armed Services Preparedness Subcommittee, chaired by Texas Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson, he was asked for an estimate of casualties in a nuclear war and gave a shocking answer: 425 million. Gavin saw the need for other types of forces. As the Army’s chief of research and development during the mid-1950s, he was an early advocate of highly mobile and air transportable forces, the modern “air cavalry.” His vision became the foundation for the Army UH-1 “Huey” helicopters and airmobile units in Vietnam.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Taylor and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, just back from a trip to Vietnam, update President John F. Kennedy on Oct. 2, 1963. (Bettmann Getty Images)

During Taylor’s four-year tenure as chief of staff, he remained critical of Eisenhower’s defense strategy, but he played his cards close to the vest. Once he retired from the Army, however, Taylor became far more vocal in his criticisms of Eisenhower’s New Look policy. His 1960 book, The Uncertain Trumpet, was met with widespread critical acclaim. Printed boldly on the book’s dust jacket, “General Taylor Contends:”

• That the doctrine of massive retaliation has endangered our national security.

• That our military planning is frozen to the requirements of general war.

• That the weaknesses in the Joint Chiefs of Staff system have left the planning of our military strategy to civilian amateurs and the budget makers.

In line with the thinking of Ridgway and Gavin and other senior generals of the 1950s, Taylor quite correctly argued that America needed a far broader range of military resources to give it a “flexible response” capability, rather than an all-or-nothing reliance on massive retaliation.

His book had considerable influence on the Vietnam policies of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, but not necessarily in the ways Taylor might have envisioned. As Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster detailed in his important 1997 book, Dereliction of Duty, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and his “Whiz Kids” of systems analysts and bean counters corrupted the concept of “flexible response” into the “incremental response” that used escalations of military force to send the North Vietnamese signals of the U.S. commitment to South Vietnam. Taylor ultimately supported that policy. The piecemeal application of force, the hallmark of American strategy in Vietnam, is one of the cardinal sins of warfare that military strategist Carl von Clausewitz warned against 200 years ago.

Taylor’s book got the attention of Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kennedy during his 1960 presidential campaign. In one of his early acts as president, Kennedy appointed Taylor to head a special study group to investigate the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in April 1961. The panel’s final report confirmed the new president’s suspicion that he had been ill-served by the advice the Joint Chiefs had given him. To ease his reliance on them, Kennedy recalled Taylor to active duty in July 1961 and appointed him to the newly created position of military representative to the president. There was no precedent or constitutional foundation for the position.

In his book, Taylor had detailed many legitimate problems with the Joint Chiefs of Staff system, but his position as the president’s military eminence grise only made those problems worse. Taylor usurped the Joint Chiefs, cutting them out of the decision-making process and widening the gap between the nation’s military and civilian leadership, a problem that remained throughout the Vietnam years.

By the spring of 1961, Southeast Asia loomed ever larger on the list of international crises facing the administration. American military advisers had been in Vietnam in small numbers since President Harry S. Truman deployed them in 1950 to assist the French. At the start of 1961, when Kennedy came into office, there had been about 900 American advisers in Vietnam. By the end of that year, the number had ballooned to 3,205. But no combat forces were in Vietnam.

Kennedy had inherited from Eisenhower a Vietnam policy that the Pentagon Papers called “limited risk.” Kennedy, however, came into office with a far more muscular vision of America’s role in the world. In his inaugural address, he had declared that America was prepared to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

A goal of spreading liberty and democracy throughout the world sounds good, but there was not—nor still is—any universally accepted definition of what those two principles really mean. South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, whose repressive government tried to squelch political opposition, obviously had views on the matter that were radically different from those espoused by most of the Kennedy administration’s “Best and Brightest.”

The new president’s foreign policy vision soon ran up against reality. Not only had the Bay of Pigs operation been a fiasco, but Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was increasing pressure on the United States to withdraw from West Berlin. During the June 1961 Kennedy-Khrushchev Summit in Vienna, the old and wily Soviet apparatchik roughly handled the young and inexperienced president. When Kennedy returned to Washington, he told James Reston, Washington bureau chief of The New York Times, “We have a problem in making our power credible, and it looks like Vietnam is the place.” A little more than two months later, on Aug. 13, the Berlin Wall started going up.

In October 1961 Kennedy sent Taylor and Deputy National Security Adviser Walt Rostow to Vietnam on a fact-finding mission. Taylor recognized that the United States was facing a double-crisis of confidence in Vietnam. First, there were grave doubts about America’s determination to hold the line against communist ex pansion in Southeast Asia. Second, there was widespread skepticism—both inside and outside of Vietnam—that Diem’s government could defeat the communists.

On his way back to the United States, Taylor put his initial thoughts in a Nov. 1 cable he sent to Kennedy from the Philippines. It began: “This message is for the purpose of presenting my reasons for recommending the introduction of a US military force into SVN [South Vietnam]. I have reached the conclusion that this is an essential action if we are to reverse the present downward trend of events in spite of a full recognition of the following disadvantages.”

Taylor noted first that America’s strategic reserve forces were already spread paper-thin with missions throughout the world, and he was concerned about committing any of those forces to “a peripheral area of the Communist bloc,” where they might become pinned down. That “peripheral” area was Southeast Asia, a characterization that would certainly change within a few years, but Taylor wrote his cable less than three months after the Berlin Wall went up, and tensions in Europe were running high.

The strain on the U.S. military from its global commitments, which intensified during the Vietnam War, should have been remedied by at least a partial mobilization of the Reserve forces, with some being put on active duty in Vietnam. But political leaders, especially Johnson, when he became president, could never bring themselves to make that decision. As a result, U.S. forces assigned to NATO in Europe were progressively stripped to skeleton formations to feed the troop buildups in Vietnam, making NATO perilously vulnerable to aggressive Soviet actions.

In his memo, Taylor also pointed out that by committing ground forces to Vietnam, the United States would be staking even more of its international prestige on the conflict there. After the bloodshed of the communists’ Tet Offensive in 1968 turned more Americans against the war, the original U.S. objective—halting the spread of communism and ensuring the sovereignty of the Republic of South Vietnam—was replaced with a new goal: get out of there while “saving face.” In the end, the United States didn’t even achieve that objective.

Additionally, Taylor warned that if the first contingent of U.S. ground troops proved insufficient to stabilize South Vietnam, there would be pressure to reinforce them with more men, which would be difficult to resist and might mean “no limit to our possible commitment (unless we attack the source in Hanoi).” As the Pentagon Papers document, up through the Tet Offensive, the United States had, in fact fallen into a policy of “unlimited commitment,” something far different from “limited risk” policy of the Eisenhower administration.

In his final caveat, Taylor said the introduction of American combat units could increase regional tensions and lead to a massive Chinese intervention, witnessed a decade earlier in Korea. Fortunately, Vietnam did not spin out of control to become World War III-East, but it turned out to be a larger war than Korea—exactly the type of war on the Asian mainland that Taylor and the “Never-Again” bloc had once warned against.

Taylor, however, did not envision the type of large force that eventually characterized America’s commitment in Vietnam. He made clear the primary functions of his recommended combat force:

1. Provide a military presence to raise South Vietnamese morale and demonstrate America’s intention to prevent a communist takeover of Southeast Asia.

2. Support flood relief operations in the Mekong Delta, which was the fundamental fig leaf for the entire intervention.

3. Conduct necessary combat operations for self-defense.

4. Provide an emergency reserve for the South Vietnamese.

5. Act as an advance party for the introduction of any follow-on American forces that the situation might require. It was this function that ultimately served as the mechanism for America taking over the war.

Even in the beginning, a light, token combat force would not suffice, Taylor said, but he suggested that 8,000 troops would be enough to secure his stated missions. The proposed American force would not be used to clear the jungles of Viet Cong guerrillas, he said. “That should be the primary task of the Armed Forces of Vietnam,” which would be organized and trained for that mission, with ample support from U.S. advisers down to the battalion level. Although the American troops were operating in an advisory role, they could be “called upon to engage in combat to protect themselves,” the general added.

In support of his recommendation, Taylor made several strategic and tactical assessments—which proved to be stunningly wrong, but haunted U.S. operations throughout the conflict. For example, Taylor incredibly claimed that South Vietnam was “not an excessively difficult or unpleasant place to operate. While the border areas are rugged and heavily forested, the terrain is comparable to parts of Korea where U.S. troops learned to live and work without too much effort.” Most Americans who served in ground combat units in Vietnam would be hard-pressed to agree with his characterization of the country as “not an excessively difficult or unpleasant place to operate.”

Dismissing his previously stated warning about actions that could lead to a major ground war in Asia, Taylor wrote: “The risks of backing into a major Asian war by way of SVN are present but are not impressive.” He supported his argument with two strategic assessments that turned out to be completely wrong, but which were widely accepted then and continued to handicap American decision-makers into the late-1960s.

First, North Vietnam was “extremely vulnerable to conventional bombing, a weakness which should be exploited diplomatically in convincing Hanoi to lay off SVN.” A belief in the overwhelming force of American air power was an article of faith among the nation’s political and military leadership. Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay famously said that North Vietnam should be “bombed back to the stone age.” There was a fatal flaw in LeMay’s logic: Industrially and economically, North Vietnam was not that far removed from the Stone Age. There were few worthwhile strategic targets in the country.

From the early days of the Operation Rolling Thunder air campaign (March 1965-November 1968), as the Pentagon Papers make clear, most of the U.S. intelligence community believed the bombing was having very little real effect, physically or psychologically, on the North Vietnamese. Yet most political leaders, McNamara foremost among them, continued naively to believe that the North Vietnamese would “get the message” with just a little more pressure.

An A-4 Skyhawk takes off from an aircraft carrier in 1966 during Operation Rolling Thunder. Taylor and many other political and military leaders believed the bombing campaign would quickly force the North Vietnamese communists to retreat from South Vietnam. (Getty Images)

In Taylor’s second erroneous assessment, he contended that both the North Vietnamese and their Chinese backers would face severe logistical difficulties as they tried to maintain strong forces in the field. American troops faced the same difficulties, Taylor acknowledged, “but by no means to the same degree.” He again reinforced his argument with the air power fallacy: “There is no case for fearing a mass onslaught of Communist manpower into SNV and its neighboring states, particularly if our airpower is allowed a free hand against logistical targets.”

Events, of course, proved otherwise. No matter how long and hard American aircraft pounded the Ho Chi Minh Trail, men and the materiel flowed, almost without interruption, from the north to south. A typical American division, with its heavy equipment and massive logistical tail, could never endure hundreds of miles of jungle and mountain trails and emerge an effective fighting force. But a mobile and lightly equipped North Vietnamese division, trained to live off the land, was a different beast entirely.

Taylor’s recommendation to send combat troops to Vietnam received wide acceptance among Washington’s senior policymakers, especially McNamara, but there was one key exception: the president himself. Kennedy would not make such a commitment at the time. However, the proposal remained on the table, along with the flawed supporting arguments in Taylor’s cable.

Kennedy eventually tried to resolve the conflicts between Taylor’s ambiguous position as “military representative to the president” and the authority of the Joint Chiefs by making Taylor chairman of the Joint Chiefs in October 1962. That move, however, did little to heal the political-military breach. Taylor intentionally and continually misrepresented the views of the Joint Chiefs to the secretary of defense and kept the other chiefs at a distance from the political decision-making process, according to McMaster.

Contrary to the beliefs of the other chiefs—that it was their duty to provide the civilian leadership with objective military advice—Taylor apparently thought his job was to support the secretary of defense’s policy positions, including McNamara’s theories about the incremental escalation of military force. The experience of the four-star general’s entire career should have shown him the fallacy of such a strategy.

To his credit, Taylor did not support the Nov. 2, 1963, coup that resulted in Diem’s assassination. Less than three weeks later, Kennedy fell to an assassin’s bullet. Johnson retained virtually all of Kennedy’s national security team—as well as the dysfunctional and toxic political-military divide that came with it. But Taylor’s credibility with Johnson was so strong that in July 1964 the president sent him to Saigon as U.S. ambassador to manage the growing crisis.

Taylor’s recommendation for his successor as chairman was Army Chief of Staff Gen. Earl Wheeler, a talented and experienced staff officer who had almost no combat and little command experience.

Taylor’s relationship with the increasingly corrupt and self-serving Saigon government proved rocky at best. First, he supported Gen. Nguyen Khanh’s coup against Gen. Duong Van Minh, but then helped engineer the removal of Khanh as prime minister. With each step, America increasingly assumed ownership of the war.

Joining 23,000 American advisers already in Vietnam, the first U.S. ground combat troops, consisting of 3,500 Marines, arrived on March 8, 1965. The underlying logic for their deployment had changed little, except that the internal situation in South Vietnam was now far worse.

That initial force turned out to be exactly what Taylor had described in his 1961 cable: an advance party for follow-on American forces. At the war’s peak in 1968, more than 500,000 U.S. troops were in Vietnam.

Johnson and McNamara were convinced that Taylor would make the perfect senior partner to Gen. William Westmoreland, Taylor’s longtime protege who had recently assumed command of Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, which oversaw all combat forces in South Vietnam. But the Taylor-Westmoreland “dream team” turned out to be anything but harmonious. Despite his original recommendation to commit combat troops, Taylor retained a limited vision for their role and mission, while Westmoreland advanced a far more aggressive approach that led to the United States taking over responsibility for the war.

However, Taylor, Westmoreland and McNamara all clung to their beliefs that U.S. air power could bomb the North Vietnamese leadership to the negotiating table and that the communist troop and supply lines to the south could be strangled.

By the time Taylor was replaced as ambassador in July 1965, the United States was already beyond the “point of no return” on its slippery slope to a strategic quagmire. Unfortunately, the tragedy had seven more years to run. Today, Westmoreland is castigated as “the general who lost Vietnam.” Perhaps that is a more accurate description of Taylor, whom Tom Ricks, in his 2012 book The Generals, said was arguably “the most destructive general in American history.”

Retired Army Maj. Gen. David T. Zabecki is Vietnam magazine’s editor emeritus.

Our History

Taylor Maxwell & Co Ltd was founded by Mr E. Maxwell and Mr. R. Taylor in 1959 and commenced operations merchanting bricks and timber from offices in Bristol.

The first branch outside of Bristol was opened in 1964, situated in Liverpool and now Taylor Maxwell has 16 locations nationwide. Although still remaining within the group, in 1977 the brick and timber operations were separated and Taylor Maxwell Timber Ltd was formed.

Each office offers a specialist service to the construction facade and timber sectors. Growth has been achieved both organically and by acquisition, adding many more companies, including the Timber Marketing Corporation in 1978 and Vobster Cast Stone Company (Vobster Architectural) in 2002.

The Taylor Maxwell Group Head Office has always been located in Bristol and our turnover now exceeds £200m. In 2017 we were placed at number 37 in the 19th annual Sunday Times Profit Track 100 and more recently we were placed at number 107 in the 15th annual Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250.

The most recent additions to our operations are new product showrooms at the Hop Exchange in London Bridge, Birmingham City Centre and Glasgow City Centre.

March’s Artwork of the Month - Maxwell Taylor's 'Nassau Boy' (1973)

‘Nassau Boy’ (1973) by Maxwell Taylor is a patterned, shifting mass of humanoid parts set against a lightly textured background, with a hint of houses and civilisation in the distance. This work is most certainly not what one expects of Taylor’s practice, but it is one of the more rebellious and unexpected pieces in the National Collection, a bit of a misfit, and our March Artwork of the Month.

Initially, the work appears to be an abstract, expressionist, surrealist imagining of a gaunt, winged man – some haunted angel perhaps – and is unmistakably European in influence. This comes as no surprise, as Taylor and all of the Chelsea Pottery apprentices were deeply influenced by art books they could get a hold of, and that of course would be the better known European and Western movements in art history.

The Chelsea Pottery and subsequent Bahamian Pottery served as a safe haven for the burgeoning creativity of Taylor and his contemporaries of the time. Together with Brent Malone and Kendal Hanna, the young men looked to texts and found works they visually resonated with.

As Dr Erica James states in ‘Max Taylor: Paperworks 1960 – 1992’, Taylor “was drawn to the work of many artists, but in these early years he evinced a special affinity for the paintings of Paul Klee. The series of works Taylor produced based on Klee’s (work)… are significant not because he was able to faithfully re-present Klee’s painting (which he does not), but because they reveal the artist’s desire to grasp, capture or recreate qualities of the work that first drew him to it.”

"Nassau Boy" (1973), Maxwell Taylor, Maxwell Taylor, ‘Nassau Boy’ (1973), oil on canvas, 50” x 44”. Part of the National Collection at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas.

Though ‘Nassau Boy’ (1973) isn’t an obvious reference to Klee, it is apparent that the Klee-influenced experimentations Taylor completed nearly a decade prior, had some lasting resonance in the dark palette and anamorphic form of the figure presented here. Works such as this are testament to the sense of urgency in Taylor and his fellows, having to search for information the good old analog way, before the ease of the ubiquitous Google search button on our phones and computers. They used what they had near to them, what was available to them, and thus begun the process of trying to understand what they each wanted their art practices to be.

The influence of the vast and varied artists of the Western canon as evidenced in the early practices of Taylor, Malone and Hanna is quite plain to see, but to simply write them off as experimentation alone is perhaps unfair to their significance here and to the art world as a whole. As Stuart Hall refers to Caribbean peoples as ‘conscripts of modernity’ (an idea coined by David Scott), we are “not the people who go forward and build the modern, but the people whose fate, whether they like it or not, has been to live the underside of modernity.” We are not major players on the global stage of power, we live on the periphery but this cannot ever discount our experiences.

The work made by Taylor in the first two decades of his practice, during the run-up to independence, gave us the first depictions of Bahamian life and society outside of the false picturesque image we knew ourselves through – an image that has endured since its early British-colonial inception. Taylor was not some international forerunner in expressionism as the movement began, (he simply couldn’t because of the timing!), but he arrived at it and grappled with it nonetheless and had he not, he mightn’t have given us our first visual representations of Bahamians in our lived reality. ‘Nassau Boy’ in its phantasmagorical display begins to give us just this.

The title alone is a declaration to his Bahamianness. Though the figure looks like something out of a fantasy, the houses in the background – on top of each other, pinched together, in the distance, are entirely reminiscent of houses from Over-the-Hill where he grew up. This dreamlike figure is perhaps an aspiration to overcome the adversity he would have faced growing up during the last years of British colonization in a place where inhabitants were not afforded the care and respect they deserved.

The thing looks to be growing, preparing to take flight, but isn’t quite fully formed and defined yet – though it doesn’t feel like it’s something dysfunction or incapable of action. This being looks like an amorphous mass of untapped potential, waiting to figure just how to shape itself: much like our fight for independence and knowing ourselves as a nation. ‘Nassau Boy’ is a declaration of identity and self. It ties in European and African-Bahamian influences together, much like our history, and what is left between is something unclear but full of possibility.

In this way, even before his deliberate attempts to show the black Bahamian experience, Taylor’s ‘Nassau Boy’ (1973) helped to provide us with representation outside of the rigid tropical ideals of the nation that formed how we were seen and how we saw ourselves since the 1800s. This is why we have chosen to unearth this work that lies outside of the ‘typical’ Max Taylor as part of the new Permanent Exhibition at the NAGB, entitled ‘Revisiting An Eye For The Tropics’.

As Dr Krista Thompson, author of the text that served as inspiration for this show, ‘An Eye For The Tropics’, explains, “(Tropicalization) characterizes how, despite the geological diversity within “the tropics” and even in a single Caribbean island, a very particular concept of what a tropical Caribbean island should look like developed in the visual economies of tourism”. This is rings true not just to the way that the islands are produced as images and dreams to be consumed by the public, but also to the various festival practices throughout the region.

Though our tourist industries throughout the region play to the stereotypes produced in these ‘visual economies of tourism’, and though they often conflate the different carnival and masquerade practices in the region as a single, similar entity, we know our own truth and we know the inherent differences in the ways these different celebrations function from island to island.

Even for islands that celebrate Carnival, the sheer difference in experience is obvious to those of us living in these places. We could never truly compare our Junkanoo to Kadooment/C in Barbados or to Carnival in Trinidad - but the tourist industry would have people believe that they are all the same, just on a different sunny location. ‘Nassau Boy’ (1973) might not appear to be a direct reference to Junkanoo from the muted color palette, but the influence is certainly there in the patterning, and even subtly in the idea of costuming and taking on other forms.

Taylor’s work, despite the visibility and power of this forced touristic image we must constantly grapple with, helps us add to the visual lexicon of images around The Bahamas in an interesting way. Even it’s lack of representational qualities in the way the content is abstracted is a statement against the tourism status quo - of sun sea and relaxation. The more we can display our varied experiences and expressions – even as far as the variation in one man’s practice alone – the more we can add to the weave of our story ourselves.

Revealed: Bill Clinton’s Intimate Secret Dinner With Ghislaine Maxwell

The former president invited Ghislaine Maxwell to a cozy dinner in L.A. in 2014, years after she had been accused by a victim of procuring girls for Epstein’s sex ring.

Kate Briquelet

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast / Photos Getty

After a star-studded gala in February 2014, Bill Clinton and his entourage headed to a vegan restaurant in Los Angeles for an intimate dinner with friends.

Their destination was Crossroads Kitchen, a Melrose Avenue hotspot that counts Beyoncé, Christina Applegate, and Katy Perry as fans, and features a menu with artichoke “oysters,” hearts of palm “crab cakes” and tagliatelle “bolognese.” That night, the restaurant was bustling. One insider spotted producer Jerry Bruckheimer and actor Bruce Willis, while TMZ recorded actor Sean Penn gliding through the front door.

Producer Steve Bing—Clinton’s friend, major Democratic donor, and investor in the restaurant who died by suicide this year—was already there waiting for the former president.

Former Clinton staffers Ben Schwerin, a future Snapchat executive, and then-talent agent Michael Kives were also invited to the swanky soiree.

But two other unlikely guests joined the party that night: British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell—accused of procuring underage girls for sex-trafficker Jeffrey Epstein—and tech CEO Scott Borgerson, now rumored to be her husband.

According to information obtained by The Daily Beast, Clinton’s advance team secured seating for the invitees and specifically noted Maxwell and someone named “Scott” had RSVP’d for the Thursday gathering.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the situation say aides had squabbled over Maxwell’s invitation beforehand due to her links to Epstein. Even to this day, Clinton insiders continue to point fingers over who should be blamed for Maxwell’s addition to the event.

The sources told The Daily Beast that longtime Clinton gatekeeper Doug Band cut Maxwell out of the president’s network in 2011 before he left Clinton’s employ the following year. (Band flew on Epstein’s private jet, including for Clinton’s 2002 humanitarian trip to Africa, and was listed in Epstein’s Little Black Book.)

Information obtained by The Daily Beast indicates Jon Davidson, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, knew Maxwell was attending the 2014 dinner, which he helped to organize. Davidson did not return messages seeking comment.

“This is an intimate dinner with Clinton in L.A.,” said one source who was disturbed by the decision. “Think of all the people he knows in L.A., and Ghislaine gets to attend.”

Schwerin told The Daily Beast he has no recollection or record of being at the dinner, while Kives said he did not attend and has never met Maxwell or noticed her at other Clinton dinners.

Angel Ureña, a spokesman for Clinton, declined to comment and referred The Daily Beast to a statement he issued in 2019:

“President Clinton knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York. In 2002 and 2003, President Clinton took a total of four trips on Jeffrey Epstein’s airplane: one to Europe, one to Asia, and two to Africa, which included stops in connection with the work of the Clinton Foundation. Staff, supporters of the Foundation, and his Secret Service detail traveled on every leg of every trip. He had one meeting with Epstein in his Harlem office in 2002, and around the same time made one brief visit to Epstein’s New York apartment with a staff member and his security detail. He’s not spoken to Epstein in well over a decade, and has never been to Little St. James Island, Epstein’s ranch in New Mexico, or his residence in Florida.”

One friend of the Clintons told The Daily Beast that Ghislaine was close to Clinton and daughter Chelsea, went backstage at Clinton Global Initiative events, and even visited their homes. The source said the Clintons should take responsibility for spending time with Maxwell, who allegedly offered the Clintons hotel stays, air travel, and other largesse.

“It’s always someone else’s fault, it’s always not true,” the friend said. “They’re always fighting against the reporting and not that they did it. That’s the problem.”

By the time of the Crossroads dinner, the press had widely reported on Epstein’s abuse of girls at his mansion in Palm Beach, Florida, and lawsuits filed by victims of his trafficking scheme.

Claims of Maxwell’s involvement were known to Clinton staffers in 2011, when the Daily Mail reported on survivor Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who said Epstein and Maxwell trafficked her to Prince Andrew when she was 17. The report included a photograph of the British royal posing with Giuffre at Maxwell’s London home. In the picture, Maxwell smiles in the background as Andrew grips Giuffre’s bare waist.

It’s unclear why Maxwell was reintroduced into Clinton’s circle—at least for one cozy meatless dinner in Los Angeles on Feb. 27, 2014.

The night of the dinner, one person remembered Borgerson in particular because he wasn’t Ted Waitt, Maxwell’s ex-boyfriend and the billionaire Gateway co-founder. Waitt is a friend and supporter of the Clinton family, donating at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation. “She had dated Ted Waitt for some time, so for her to go to a dinner like that, with someone who’s not Ted, was indicative that things moved on,” the source added.

TMZ reported Clinton dined with Penn that night but didn't mention any of the other boldfaced names. The gossip site published video footage of Clinton slipping into the back of the restaurant after a Secret Service motorcade parked, and of Penn striding through the entrance, ignoring a stringer’s questions about meeting Bill.

Hours earlier, the men rubbed elbows at the Unite4:Humanity gala at a Sony Pictures Studios lot, where singer Demi Lovato and other celebrities took selfies with the former president. Clinton, who received a “unity recognition award,” was the keynote speaker.

Clinton flew to New York the next morning, but Maxwell stayed in California. Three days after the group dinner with Clinton, Maxwell attended the Vanity Fair Oscar bash in West Hollywood, where a photographer snapped her with Elon Musk (who, in response to Twitter critics, claimed he was photobombed).

Another source with long ties to Clinton told The Daily Beast they were relieved Page Six or another outlet didn't catch wind of the gathering.

In 2014, Maxwell worked to reinvent herself through her oceans nonprofit, the TerraMar Project, and was photographed at a slew of society parties. She jet-setted to Alaska for the Iditarod, and spoke at a UN roundtable, Google’s Ocean Agenda conference, and a TEDx conference in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Maxwell, now awaiting trial for perjury and grooming girls for Epstein, was friendly with the Clinton clan for years. She had a front-row seat at Chelsea Clinton's wedding in 2010, reportedly as Waitt’s plus-one, at the Astor Courts estate in Rhinebeck, New York. Maxwell, Chelsea, and husband Marc Mezvinsky “flew together on a private plane to rendezvous with Waitt for a trip on Waitt’s yacht” around that time, Politico reported.

Last year, a spokeswoman for Chelsea told CNN the former first daughter was only acquainted with Maxwell because of Waitt.

Still, Maxwell’s ties to the Clintons run deeper. As The Daily Beast previously revealed, Maxwell and Epstein attended a reception at the White House during Clinton’s presidency. Bill and Hillary Clinton hosted the 1993 event for donors to the White House Historical Association, which funded Oval Office renovations including gold draperies and a new rug.

Maxwell’s dubious charity, the Max Foundation, showed a $2,500 contribution to the “Clinton Library and Foundation” in 2003. And in 2002 and 2003, the socialite traveled with the former president when he took trips on Epstein’s plane throughout Asia and Africa. Maxwell also flew from Miami to Westchester County, New York, with a group that included Epstein, Clinton, Secret Service agents and Sarah Kellen, Epstein’s personal assistant and alleged accomplice.

In 2009, one attorney for Epstein victims hired an investigator to serve Maxwell with a subpoena as she schmoozed at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York. “To say she was upset about being publicly served at this function is an understatement,” attorney Brad Edwards wrote in his book.

Clinton isn't the only high-profile politician under fire over ties to Epstein and Maxwell.

President Donald Trump palled around with Epstein in the ➐s and at least until 2002, when he called the hedge-funder a “terrific guy” in an interview with New York.

“I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it—Jeffrey enjoys his social life,” Trump told the magazine.

In 1992, Trump held a “calendar girl” competition at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, and Epstein was reportedly the only guest.

The same year, Epstein and Trump were videotaped at what appears to be a different party at Trump’s private club. Found in NBC archives, the footage was for a talk-show profile on Trump’s new life as a divorcee. The men ogle women on the dance floor, and Trump apparently tells Epstein, "Look at her, back there. . She's hot." Epstein smiles and nods before collapsing into giggles after Trump whispers something in his ear.

Jane Doe, one survivor of Epstein’s sex ring, said the financier introduced her to Trump in 1994, when she was 14 years old. Her lawsuit said Epstein “elbowed Trump playfully” before asking, “This is a good one, right?”

“Trump smiled and nodded in agreement,” Doe’s complaint alleges. “They both chuckled and Doe felt uncomfortable, but, at the time, was too young to understand why.” (Doe does not accuse Trump of any misconduct.)

Epstein and Trump “were good friends,” Epstein’s brother Mark told the Washington Post, adding that Trump flew on Epstein’s plane “numerous times.” The financier’s address book contains multiple entries for Trump and now-First Lady Melania.

The men supposedly had a falling out over real estate in 2004, when Epstein tried to outbid Trump in a bankruptcy auction for the Palm Beach mansion of nursing home magnate Abe Gosman, according to the Post.

Three years later, Page Six reported Epstein was banned from Mar-a-Lago.

Trump also apparently hobnobbed with Maxwell. At a COVID press conference in July, Trump told reporters he met Maxwell “numerous times over the years” but couldn’t answer whether he thought the beleaguered socialite would spill dirt on other famous people accused of partaking in Epstein’s trafficking scheme.

“I don’t know. I haven’t been following it too much,” Trump said. “I just wish her well, frankly. I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach. I guess they lived in Palm Beach. But I wish her well, whatever it is.”

Ambulance Makes Its Journey to Rome

The ambulance sped up Highway 7, passing through an Italian countryside basking in the rays of the late summer sun. Highway 7 was the modern name of the fabled Appian Way, first built by the Roman Appius Claudius around 312 bc. Parts of the Roman road still peeked through the modern asphalt tires now rolled on a surface that had once known the tramp of Roman legionnaries. Taylor and Gardiner had little time to muse on the road’s historic significance or romantic allure. They were uncertain of their reception once they got to Rome, and were conscious that time was running out.

The journey from Gaeta to Rome was a long one, encompassing 75 miles. The ambulance managed to reach the Eternal City by 8:30 pm. They had encountered many roadblocks, but guards quickly waved them past.

On September 3, 1943, Lt. Gen. Bernard L. Montgomery crossed the Straits of Messina to land at Reggio Calabria on Italy’s “toe.” Since it was obviously not the main invasion, Hitler was not alarmed, confident that Operation Alarich could be implemented at a moment’s notice.

Taylor and Gardiner were driven to Italian Supreme Headquarters at the Palazzo Caprara, where two rooms on the third floor had been reserved for their use. They were warmly greeted by resident staffers but the informed General Giacomo Carboni, commander of the corps assigned to defend Rome, was not present.

Maxwell Taylor - History


'Friendly Fire' Reported as CIA Personnel Shot at Own Aircraft
New Revelations on Assassination Plots, Use of Americans in Combat

National Security Archive FOIA Lawsuit Obtains Release of Last Major Internal Agency Compilation on Paramilitary Invasion of Cuba

Newsweek runs article by Historian Robert Dallek based on Archive work

Archive Cuba Project posts Four Volumes calls for declassification of still secret Volume 5

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 355

Posted - August 15, 2011

By Peter Kornbluh

For more information contact:
Peter Kornbluh - 202/374-7281 or by email

"History Held Hostage"
By Peter Kornbluh
August 14, 2011

  • Only days before the invasion, the CIA tried to entice Cuba&rsquos top diplomat, foreign minister Raul Roa, to defect. &ldquoOur contact with Raul Roa reports that this defection attempt is still alive although Roa would make no firm commitment or promise on whether he would defect in the U.N.,&rdquo operations manager, Jacob Esterline, noted in a secret April 11, 1961 progress report on invasion planning. &ldquoRoa has requested that no further contact be made at this time.&rdquo Like the invasion itself, the Agency&rsquos effort for a dramatic propaganda victory over Cuba was unsuccessful. &ldquoThe planned defection did not come off,&rdquo concedes the Official History.
  • In coordination with the preliminary airstrike on April 14, the CIA, with the support of the Pentagon, requested permission for a series of &ldquolarge-scale sonic booms&rdquo over Havana&mdasha psychological operations tactic the Agency had successfully employed in the overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954. &ldquoWe were trying to create confusion, and so on,&rdquo a top-level CIA invasion planner stated. &ldquoI thought a sonic boom would be a helluva swell thing, you know. Break all the windows in downtown Havana&hellipdistract Castro.&rdquo Trying to maintain &ldquoplausible denial&rdquo of Washington&rsquos role, the State Department rejected the request as &ldquotoo obviously U.S.&rdquo The Official History records General Curtis Lemay demanding on the telephone to know &ldquowho was the sonofabitch who didn&rsquot approve&rdquo the request.
  • Several damaged invasion airplanes made emergency landings on the Grand Cayman Islands, and were seized by local authorities. The situation created an awkward diplomatic situation with Great Britain details of the negotiations between the U.S. and England are redacted but the CIA did suggest making the argument that if the planes were not released, Castro would think the Caymans were being used as a launch site for the invasion and respond aggressively.
  • As Castro&rsquos forces gained the upper hand against the invasion, Agency planners reversed a decision against widespread use of napalm bombs &ldquoin favor of anything that might reverse the situation in Cuba in favor of the Brigade forces.&rdquo
  • Although the CIA had been admonished by both the Eisenhower and Kennedy White House to make sure that the U.S. hand did not show in the invasion, during the fighting headquarters authorized American pilots to fly planes over Cuba. Secret instructions quoted in the Official History state that Americans could pilot planes but only over the beachhead and not inland. &ldquoAmerican crews must not fall into hands enemy,&rdquo warned the instructions. If they did &ldquo[the] U.S. will deny any knowledge.&rdquo Four American pilots and crew died when their planes were shot down over Cuba. The Official History contains private correspondence with family members of some of the pilots.
  • While attending John F. Kennedy&rsquos inauguration in Washington in January 1961, General Anastacio Somoza met secretly with CIA director Allen Dulles to discuss the creation of JMTIDE, the cryptonym for the airbase the CIA wanted to use in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua to launch the attack on Cuba. Somoza explicitly raised Nicaragua&rsquos need for two development loans totaling $10 million. The CIA subsequently pressed the State Department to support the loans, one of which was from the World Bank.
  • President Luis Somoza demanded assurances that the U.S. would stand behind Nicaragua once it became known that the Somozas had supported the invasion. Somoza told the CIA representative that &ldquothere are some long-haired Department of State liberals who are not in favor of Somoza and they would welcome this as a source of embarrassment for his government.&rdquo
  • Guatemalan President Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes repeatedly told CIA officials that he wanted to &ldquosee Guatemalan Army and Air Force personnel participate in the air operations against Castro&rsquos Cuba.&rdquo
  • The dictator of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo, offered his country&rsquos territory in support of the invasion. His quid pro quo was a U.S. assurance to let Trujillo &ldquolive out the rest of his days in peace.&rdquo The State Department rejected the offer Trujillo, whose repression and corruption was radicalizing the left in the Dominican Republic, was later assassinated by CIA-backed groups.
  • A small group of high-level CIA officials sought to use part of the budget of the invasion to finance a collaboration with the Mafia to assassinate Castro. In an interview with the CIA historian, former chief of the invasion task force, Jacob Esterline, said that he had been asked to provide money from the invasion budget by J.C. King, the head of the Western Hemisphere. &ldquoEsterline claimed that on one occasion as chief/w4, he refused to grant Col J.C. King, chief WH Division, a blank check when King refused to tell Jake the purpose for which the check was intended. Esterline reported that King nonetheless got a FAN number from the Office of Finance and that the money was used to pay the Mafia-types.&rdquo The Official History also notes that invasion planners discussed pursuing &ldquoOperation AMHINT to set up a program of assassination&rdquo&mdashalthough few details were provided. In November 1960, Edward Lansdale, a counterinsurgency specialist in the U.S. military who later conceived of Operation Mongoose, sent the invasion task force a &ldquoMUST GO LIST&rdquo of 11 top Cuban officials, including Che Guevera, Raul Castro, Blas Roca and Carlos Raphael Rodriguez.
  • Vice-President Nixon, who portrayed himself in his memoirs as one of the original architects of the plan to overthrow Castro, proposed to the CIA that they support &ldquogoon squads and other direct action groups&rdquo inside and outside of Cuba. The Vice President repeatedly sought to interfere in the invasion planning. Through his national security aide, Nixon demanded that William Pawley, &ldquoa big fat political cat,&rdquo as Nixon&rsquos aide described him to the CIA, be given briefings and access to CIA officers to share ideas. Pawley pushed the CIA to support untrustworthy exiles as part of the effort to overthrow Castro. &ldquoSecurity already has been damaged severely,&rdquo the head of the invasion planning reported, about the communications made with one, Rubio Padilla, one of Pawley&rsquos favorite militants.
  • In perhaps the most important revelation of the entire official history, the CIA task force in charge of the paramilitary assault did not believe it could succeed without becoming an open invasion supported by the U.S. military. On page 149 of Volume III, Pfeiffer quotes still-secret minutes of the Task Force meeting held on November 15, 1960, to prepare a briefing for the new President-elect, John F. Kennedy: &ldquoOur original concept is now seen to be unachievable in the face of the controls Castro has instituted,&rdquo the document states. &ldquoOur second concept (1,500-3000 man force to secure a beach with airstrip) is also now seen to be unachievable, except as a joint Agency/DOD action.&rdquo

This volume, which Pfeiffer wrote in an &ldquounclassified&rdquo form with the intention of publishing it after he left the CIA, represents his forceful rebuttal to the findings of the Presidential Commission that Kennedy appointed after the failed invasion, headed by General Maxwell Taylor. In the introduction to the 300 pages volume, Pfeiffer noted that the CIA had been given a historical &ldquobum rap&rdquo for &ldquoa political decision that insured the military defeat of the anti-Castro forces&rdquo&mdasha reference to President Kennedy&rsquos decision not to provide overt air cover and invade Cuba after Castro&rsquos forces overwhelmed the CIA-trained exile Brigade. The Taylor Commission, which included Attorney General Robert Kennedy, he implied, was biased to defend the President at the expense of the CIA. General Taylor&rsquos &ldquostrongest tilts were toward deflecting criticism of the White House,&rdquo according to the CIA historian.

According to Pfeiffer, this volume would present &ldquothe first and only detailed examination of the work of, and findings of, the Taylor Commission to be based on the complete record.&rdquo His objective was to offer &ldquoa better understanding of where the responsibility for the fiasco truly lies.&rdquo To make sure the reader fully understood his point, Pfeiffer ended the study with an &ldquoepilogue&rdquo consisting of a one paragraph quote from an interview that Raul Castro gave to a Mexican journalist in 1975. &ldquoKennedy vacillated,&rdquo Castro stated. &ldquoIf at that moment he had decided to invade us, he could have suffocated the island in a sea of blood, but he would have destroyed the revolution. Lucky for us, he vacillated.&rdquo

After leaving the CIA in the mid 1980s, Pfeiffer filed a freedom of information act suit to obtain the declassification of this volume, and volume V, of his study, which he intended to publish as a book, defending the CIA. The CIA did eventually declassify volume IV, but withheld volume V in its entirety. Pfeiffer never published the book and this volume never really circulated publicly.

Volume V: The Internal Investigation Report [Still Classified]

Like his forceful critique of the Taylor Commission, Pfeiffer also wrote a critique of the CIA&rsquos own Inspector General&rsquos report on the Bay of Pigs&mdash&ldquoInspector General&rsquos Survey of Cuban Operation&rdquo--written by a top CIA officer, Lyman Kirkpatrick in 1961. Much to the surprise and chagrin of top CIA officers at the time, Kirkpatrick laid the blame for the failure squarely at the feet of his own agency, and particularly the chief architect of the operation, Deputy Director of Plans, Richard Bissell. The operation was characterized by &ldquobad planning,&rdquo &ldquopoor&rdquo staffing, faulty intelligence and assumptions, and &ldquoa failure to advise the President that success had become dubious.&rdquo Moreover, &ldquoplausible denial was a pathetic illusion,&rdquo the report concluded. &ldquoThe Agency failed to recognize that when the project advanced beyond the stage of plausible denial it was going beyond the area of Agency responsibility as well as Agency capability.&rdquo In his cover letter to the new CIA director, John McCone, Kirkpatrick identified what he called &ldquoa tendency in the Agency to gloss over CIA inadequacies and to attempt to fix all of the blame for the failure of the invasion upon other elements of the Government, rather than to recognize the Agency&rsquos weaknesses.&rdquo

Pfeiffer&rsquos final volume contains a forceful rebuttal of Kirkpatrick&rsquos focus on the CIA&rsquos own culpability for the events at the Bay of Pigs. Like the rest of the Official History, the CIA historian defends the CIA against criticism from its own Inspector General and seeks to spread the &ldquoWho Lost Cuba&rdquo blame to other agencies and authorities of the U.S. government, most notably the Kennedy White House.

When Pfeiffer first sought to obtain declassification of his critique, the Kirkpatrick report was still secret. The CIA was able to convince a judge that national security would be compromised by the declassification of Pfeiffer&rsquos critique which called attention to this extremely sensitive Top Secret report. But in 1998, Peter Kornbluh and the National Security Archive used the FOIA to force the CIA to declassify the Inspector General&rsquos report. (Kornbluh subsequently published it as a book: Bay of Pigs Declassified: The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba.) Since the Kirkpatrick report has been declassified for over 13 years, it is unclear why the CIA continues to refuse to declassify a single word of Pfeiffer&rsquos final volume.

The National Security Archive remains committed to using all means of legal persuasion to obtain the complete declassification of the final volume of the Official History of the Bay of Pigs Operation.


IN THE EARLY hours of D-day, June 6, 1944, about 18,000 airborne troopers descended on German-occupied Normandy in darkness. Their mission was to seize bridges and causeways and generate chaos behind two of the four invasion beaches, Utah and Sword. Notwithstanding poor drops and landings in the American zone, the men of the American 82nd and 101st divisions and those of the British 6th division performed brilliantly. Allied airborne forces became the stuff of instant legend, and their exploits in Normandy and elsewhere continue to generate books and films.

For the 50th anniversary of D-Day, this spring's lists offer two very different and noteworthy entries: a detailed biography of the airborne pioneer and superb front-line fighter, the late Gen. James M. Gavin, and the rediscovered war memoir of an enlisted trooper.

Like his airborne peers, Matthew B. Ridgway and Maxwell D. Taylor, "Slim Jim" Gavin was a prolific author. His World War II memoir, On to Berlin, was a bestseller. Among other works, Ridgway and Taylor published autobiographies, but Gavin died in 1990 before he could finish his. This biography by the Washington-based writer Duncan Spencer and paratrooper turned historian, T. Michael Booth draws on Gavin's incomplete autobiography and personal papers and diaries, which were opened to them by Gavin's widow. Thus it fills a gap, sort of.

Born out of wedlock in New York City to an Irish immigrant and adopted by an unstable, uneducated coal-mining family in Mount Carmel, Pa., Gavin covered a lot of ground in his 83 years. In 1924, age 17, he slipped away from Mount Carmel and enlisted in the army. A year later, he won an appointment to West Point and was graduated with the class of 1929, standing 185 among 299. A few months later he married a Washingtonian, Irma ("Peggy") Baulsir, a relationship that soon turned sour but produced a daughter. In 1947, the Gavins finally divorced and he married Jean Emert, a woman about 20 years his junior.

In the 1930s, Gavin's career in the army was undistinguished. He flunked out of flight school, then served routine tours at the Infantry School, Fort Benning, Ga., overseas with the Philippine Scouts, back to Washington State with the 3d Infantry Division and as an instructor in tactics at West Point. Frustrated in his attempts to locate his birth parents, miserable in his first marriage, Gavin obsessively sought the company of other women. Many, many women, the authors imply -- but provide few details.

In the summer of 1941, Gavin volunteered for the Army's parachute school, then just beginning. It was a move that put him on the path to professional acclaim and public fame. Perfectly suited for this new form of infantry, he was soon a bird colonel, commanding a parachute regiment in the 82nd Airborne Division. At that time, Major Gen. Matthew Ridgway commanded the division and Brigadier Gen. Max Taylor commanded the division's artillery. In mid-training the 82nd divided to become the cadre of the 101st Airborne Division, but Ridgway, Taylor and Gavin remained with the 82nd, where they became archrivals.

The 82nd entered combat first in Sicily and then Italy. Taylor left to command the unbloodied 101st. Gavin, age 36, moved up to become Ridgway's number two and a chief planner in London for airborne operations in the Normandy invasion. When Ridgway rose to command the XVII Airborne Corps, Gavin replaced him as commander of the 82nd. The rivalry between Ridgway, Taylor and Gavin intensified as each rose to higher responsibilities, all three vying to be "Mr. Paratrooper" in the public mind, or so it seemed.

In the hot and cold wars of the 1950s, Ridgway, Taylor and Gavin became the leading lights of the U.S. Army. Each rebelled against the air-minded Eisenhower administration and its strategy of "massive retaliation," which left the Army little to do in the putative big war and ill-equipped for a brushfire war. All left public service in a huff, and all wrote similar dissenting books. Taylor and Gavin returned to public service in the Kennedy administration, Gavin as ambassador to France. The rivalry continued: Ridgway and Gavin opposed the war in Vietnam Taylor urged an ever greater commitment.

Booth and Spencer have done a workmanlike job with the Gavin biography. They touch all the requisite bases in Gavin's personal and professional life. Importantly, they develop the fascinating (and ultimately bitter) Ridgway-Taylor-Gavin rivalry, which Taylor's son, John M. Taylor, unwisely chose to ignore in his recent biography of his father. Nonetheless, the Gavin biography, like the Taylor biography, is incomplete we'll have to wait for the definitive work.

A momentous turn in the lives of all three airborne generals occurred when Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall directed the first commander of the 82nd division, Omar N. Bradley, to rescue a National Guard division which had bogged down in training. In Booth-Spencer prose, this event is described in the following, inappropriately slangy language: "High command considered him one of the army's top commanders, so when the 28th Infantry Division began having organizational problems the army grabbed Bradley to straighten things out." Yikes!

There are other editorial problems. Precise dates of Gavin's posts and service are lacking. When introduced, not all the important people get full names and some are referred to later by nicknames. A fleeting implication that Robert Oppenheimer might have been a "Communist" demands substantiation, to say the least.

The failure to develop more fully Gavin's Don Juanism before his second marriage is unfortunate. For example, the authors briefly describe what they call an "unusual" lunch after the liberation of Paris. Lunching at the Ritz were: Ernest Hemingway Hemingway's wife, war correspondent Martha Gellhorn Hemingway's new mistress, Mary Welsh Marlene Dietrich and Jim Gavin. While Mary Welsh sought Hemingway's eye, Martha Gellhorn and Marlene Dietrich sought Gavin, who had affairs with both women, the authors assert, while also sleeping with his English driver. "Unusual" lunch indeed, but where is the rest of the story?

A COUPLE of years ago, Stephen E. Ambrose, the indefatigable lecturer, military historian and biographer, published Band of Brothers, a combat chronicle from Normandy to VE-Day of E company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. One of Ambrose's sources was an unpublished memoir and the letters of a wartime sergeant in E Company, David Kenyon Webster. Ambrose wrote an introduction to the Webster memoir, Parachute Infantry, and Louisiana State University Press has now published it.

A 21-year-old English literature major at Harvard University who aspired to be a writer when he enlisted in the parachute infantry in 1943, Webster jumped into Normandy and Holland with the 101st. In both campaigns, he was wounded but recovered and returned to serve in E company until his discharge in 1946. In the postwar years, he was a reporter for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Wall Street Journal and wrote a book about sharks, Myth and Maneater. In 1961, while shark-fishing in his 11-foot sailing dinghy off the Santa Monica coast, he disappeared. Saga magazine and the Saturday Evening Post published brief excerpts of his war memoir, but 29 publishers turned it down.

Ambrose was right to urge publication of this almost-forgotten memoir. It is beautifully written and perfectly evokes life and battle in a parachute infantry company. Webster's account of the night jump into Normandy is absolutely superb. He recalls standing beside the plane that would take him to France: "I shiver and sweat at the same time. My head is shaved, my face darkened with charcoal, my jump suit impregnated for gas. I am carrying over a hundred pounds of equipment. I have two bandoliers and three hand grenades for ten thousand Germans . . . " This book ranks right up there with the 1951 classic, Those Devils in Baggy Pants, written by another enlisted man (of the 504th regiment of the 82nd division), Ross S. Carter, who died shortly after the war.

I was mystified by one aspect of the Webster memoir. The description of the Normandy campaign (on the ground) ends abruptly after merely a day or so with no further explanations. Only later in the text did I discover that Webster was wounded early in the Normandy fighting and evacuated to a hospital in England. An account of his first wound and evacuation should have been included at the end of the Normandy section. At the end of the war, Webster and a small group were the first Americans to arrive at Berchtesgaden, where they commandeered the contents of Hitler's wine cellar.

I join Ambrose in recommending this book to anyone of any age with an interest in the exploits of the airborne forces and ground combat in the European Theater of Operations, as told by a truly gifted narrator.

Military historian Clay Blair, author of "Ridgway's Paratroopers," has completed a new history of the U-boat war, which will be published in 1995.

Watch the video: Taylor Wimpey - The Maxwell (December 2022).

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