EP12 Wolf Pack Hunting with Hanks | Tom Hanks on Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History: Addendum

Check out Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History: Addendum Podcast Page & Episode Notes

Key Takeaways

  • “We grow up with a two-dimensional version of history, especially with our heroes. We shrink them into cardboard cut-outs, we send off the unpalatable edges and turn them into symbols” – Dan Carlin
    • As we learn more about history, characters become much more relatable and interesting. We get to understand the moral dilemmas and difficulties they faced
  • As we read history, it’s easy to forget that people had no clue what was going to happen
  • At many moments in history, each individual had one of three options on how to conduct their lives, he could be a hero, a villain or a coward
    • Tom likes to ponder on how he would act if he found himself in such a situation

Books Mentioned

Intro

Tom Hanks’ Passion for History

What Makes History Fascinating

  • “We grow up with a two-dimensional version of history, especially with our heroes. We shrink them into cardboard cutouts, we send off the unpalatable edges and turn them into symbols” – Dan Carlin
    • As we learn more about history, characters become much more relatable and interesting.
    • We get to understand the moral dilemmas and difficulties they faced
  • Reading history, it’s easy to forget that people had no clue what was going to happen
    • Until the battle of Stalingrad, no one had any idea that the Nazis were beatable
    • The Nazi war machine was invincible
    • At that moment, each individual had one of three options on how to conduct their lives: Hero, Villain or Coward
      • Tom often imagines how he would act
      • To a minor extent, we are faced with similar choices in our everyday lives
      • “History shows us the human condition as we can observe it right now” – Tom Hanks

The Lesser Known History of John Adams

  • As the executive producer of HBO’s Series “John Adams“, Tom had the chance to learn some surprising parts of history that are usually ignored
  • John Adams is mostly known for being the 2nd President of the United States and one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence
  • What most people don’t know is that as a lawyer, Adams defended the British soldiers who fired on the mob during The Boston Massacre
    • Adams realized that societyneeded to rely on the Rule of Law and could not let the mob govern
  • Adams also travelled to London to  negotiate with Barbary Pirates who kept kidnapping American sailors and demanded ransom

Tom’s Latest Movie “Greyhound”

  • Tom wrote the screenplay inspired by the book The Good Shepherd written by C. S. Forester
    • Tom was fascinated by the hero in the book
    • A grey-haired old man, who had never served during wartime and suddenly finds himself in charge of a crew of untrained, really young men.
      • “Do you know what they called you if you were 28 years old in the armed services during WW2? They called you ‘Pops'” – Tom Hanks
  • Set in 1942 and tells the story of one of the many ship convoys delivering goods to soldiers through the Atlantic Ocean
    • These ships were regularly hunted by Nazi Submarines
    • “The odds of you dying at sea, just being a guy on a boat was the same (as being on the war front)” – Tom Hanks
  • It is challenging to keep historic authenticity when making a movie
    • He avoided explanatory lines, that would commonly be used in movies but that the characters would never say
      • The audience learns the technical terms and the details of what’s going on as they watch the movie
    • He also discusses the research necessary to accurately reproduce rudimentary technology (radars, sonars, etc..) that was used at the time

What’s The Role of an Executive Producer in TV vs. Movies?

  • “Executive producer” in a motion picture is a powerless title that doesn’t even require your presence
  • In a TV series, you can impact the final product as much as you want to (writing, casting, shooting, editing)

Additional Notes

  • Tom recounts an episode of the Tonight Show in which Lee Martin (American actor and war veteran) tells the story of Bob Keeshan a true war hero:
    • Bob’s job during WW2 was to stand up under fire, unarmed, waving red flags to guide boats as they reached land (Beach Master at Iwo Jima in Japan)
    • But all people know him for is as the host of the children’s tv show Captain Kangaroo
    •  

Original

Key Takeaways

  • “We grow up with a two-dimensional version of history, especially with our heroes. We shrink them into cardboard cut-outs, we send off the unpalatable edges and turn them into symbols” – Dan Carlin
    • As we learn more about history, characters become much more relatable and interesting. We get to understand the moral dilemmas and difficulties they faced
  • As we read history, it’s easy to forget that people had no clue what was going to happen
  • At many moments in history, each individual had one of three options on how to conduct their lives, he could be a hero, a villain or a coward
    • Tom likes to ponder on how he would act if he found himself in such a situation
  • To give us an idea of how young soldiers were during WW2 Tom said: “Do you know what they called you if you were 28 years old in the armed services during WW2? They called you ‘Pops'”

Books Mentioned

Intro

Tom Hanks’ Passion for History

  • Tom Hanks is truly passionate about history and is a fan of the Hardcore History Podcast
    • Talking to Dan he said: “You are as big as Bruce Springsteen in our house”
  • Tom has been reading history books for pleasure since he was 13-14
    • He started with historical novels such as Armageddon, Mila 18 and other books by Leon Uris
    • He’s particularly fascinated with topics related to WW2, Communism and East Germany
  • While reading A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, Tom was surprised to find out about the Tulsa race massacre of 1921 and how it had been hidden in American history books

What Makes History Fascinating

  • “We grow up with a two-dimensional version of history, especially with our heroes. We shrink them into cardboard cutouts, we send off the unpalatable edges and turn them into symbols” – Dan Carlin
    • As we learn more about history, characters become much more relatable and interesting. We get to understand the moral dilemmas and difficulties they faced
  • Reading history, it’s easy to forget that people had no clue what was going to happen
    • Until the battle of Stalingrad, no one had any idea that the Nazis were beatable. Back then, the Nazi war machine was invincible. After Stalingrad, people realized that they had a chance to beat the Nazis
    • At that moment, each individual had one of three options on how to conduct their lives, he could be a hero, a villain or a coward
      • As Tom reads history, he likes to ponder on how he would act if he found himself in such a situation
      • To a minor extent, we are faced with similar choices in our everyday lives
      • “History shows us the human condition as we can observe it right now” – Tom Hanks

The Lesser Known History of John Adams

  • As the executive producer of HBO’s Series “John Adams“, Tom had the chance to learn some surprising parts of history that are usually ignored
    • Tom was first surprised when a friend told him to read John Adams by David McCullough.  Tom’s friend thought the book to be worthy of a TV series
  • John Adams is mostly known for being the 2nd President of the United States and one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence
  • What we are not told normally is that, as a lawyer, Adams defended the British soldiers who fired on the mob during The Boston Massacre
    • Adams realized that as a society, they needed to rely on the Rule of Law and could not let the mob govern
  • Adams also had to travel to London to attempt negotiating with Barbary Pirates who kept kidnapping American sailors and were asking for ransom

Tom’s Latest Movie “Greyhound”

  • Tom wrote the screenplay for the movie and was inspired by the book The Good Shepherd written by C. S. Forester
    • Tom was fascinated by the hero in the book. A grey-haired old man, who had never served during wartime and suddenly finds himself in charge of a crew of untrained, really young man.
      • To give us an idea of how young soldiers were back then Tom said: “Do you know what they called you if you were 28 years old in the armed services during WW2? They called you ‘Pops'”
  • The movie is set in 1942 and tells the story of one of the many ship convoys delivering goods to soldiers through the Atlantic Ocean
    • These ships were regularly hunted by Nazi Submarines
    • “The odds of you dying at sea, just being a guy on a boat was the same (as being on the war front)” – Tom Hanks
  • Tom talks about the challenges involved in keeping the historic authenticity of the movie
    • He made sure to avoid explanatory lines, that would commonly be used in movies but that the characters would never say
      • The audience learns the technical terms and the details of what’s going on as they watch the movie
    • He also discusses the research necessary to accurately reproduce rudimentary technology (radars, sonars, etc..) that was used at the time

What’s The Role of an Executive Producer?

  • Difference between being an executive producer on a motion picture and being one on a television series:
    • “Executive producer” in a motion picture is a powerless title that doesn’t even require your presence
    • In a TV series, you can impact the final product as much as you want to. You can get involved in writing, casting, shooting, editing

Additional Notes

  • Tom recounts an episode of the Tonight Show in which Lee Martin (American actor and war veteran) tells the story of Bob Keeshan. According to Lee, Bob was a true war hero
    • Bob Keeshan, know as the actor of the children’s tv show Captain Kangaroo was the beach master at Iwo Jima (Japan)
    • Bob’s job during WW2 was to stand up under fire, unarmed, waving red flags to guide boats as they reached land

Hardcore History : , ,
Notes By Giorgio Parlato

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