Life and Books Part 2; an Interview with Edward Riegelhaupt

Looking back at this conversation it is obvious that my Dad was already loosing some of his memories (this is the man who told my son all about 1st grade when he started –70 years later).  To understand a little more about him in terms of this next section of the interview you should know that the first book he loved as a child was actually Emil and the Detectives.

In 1960 (it may have been 1959) my Mom and Dad moved to the small village of Sao Joao de Lampas outside of Lisbon Portugal for my Mom’s anthropological field work. Yes my Dad gave up his job to become my Mom’s assistant. His responsibilities included map making and talking to the men when it was inappropriate for a woman to do so.  It was these years that gave him the title ‘honorary anthropologist’ despite the fact that he never worked in academia. Some of these memories are collected in a Storycorps interview I did with him in 2008.

The Interview:

S: What were you reading when you were living in Europe? Were you reading more American or were you reading more local?

E: We were reading British authors.

S: Was it the influence of the people you were spending time with?

E: No it was the bookstores in downtown Lisbon. We lived in the village 25, 30 miles outside of Lisbon. We would make a trip into downtown Lisbon every few weeks where Joyce would go to the University and talk to friends in the Geography and Ethnography Departments and then we would wander around the Chiado, the neighborhood of Lisbon where there are cafes and bookstores. There would always be great sections. The thing we discovered in the field, we discovered Lawrence Durrell’s the Alexandria Quartet which I want to reread with Pat. Durrell wrote these books about these brother and sister in Alexandria in the 1920s and 30s. They are Europeans, back then Egypt was essentially a European colony, unfortunately run by the British. We were reading them in sequence, meaning I would be ahead by one book. I would go out in the field and Joyce would ask “Have you been doing your maps of the agricultural fields of the village? I noticed that you had the book with you, were you sitting on a wall reading the book?” We both read these books by a two month period having lots of fun reading them.

S:I know that one of the things that you have read a lot is spy stories. What point in your life did you start to read them?

E: I think I started reading the spy stories in the 1960s when I was traveling a lot overseas for The American Can Company. I think I read A Call For The Dead, by John le Carre first and probably A Small Town in Germany by le Carre. All the early books became very exciting. Starting with le Carre I branched off to many other spy writers.

S: They were very Cold War oriented?

E: All Cold War oriented.

S: How did reading those and your politics interact? Your politics were very anti Cold War.

E: We didn’t want a Cold War but we were not pro Russia, we were anti Russia.

S: But you weren’t anti culturally Russian.

E: The Russians under Stalin were pretty rough people. We weren’t much in favor of them. We may have been very liberal for US politics, with Joyce and Joyce’s father and the National Lawyers Guild. But all these people were anti Stalinists. Your mom and her family were anti-Stalinists, I was, too, and my family was mainly apolitical. Therefore we were anti- Russian in the sense of world politics even though we were very pro liberal and civil liberties and pro racial equality here.

S: So you started reading the spy stories while you traveled. Did it affect how you traveled, in your daydreams while you traveled?

E: It probably did. It was lots of fun. About that time in the 1960s the Philby story. The spies in England that were apprehended by the British. Maclean and Burgess were apprehended and later Hunt was apprehended. Philby was dangled until he escaped from Beirut to Moscow. I don’t understand how they couldn’t understand that he was a spy and disloyal. That was the old boys school in England which protected him. However, the whole Philby issue.

S: Who was Philby?

E: Kim Philby was a British Intelligence agent who rose up in their organization higher and higher and higher and he was assigned to the US for a while. He turned out to be a KGB spy. His father St. John Philby, known as “Sin-Jin” Philby, advised the British on middle eastern affairs. Who started out as an Indian civil servant. The civil service of India was a very important administrative arm of the British Foreign Office, separate from it slightly. He also hated the British, the British Empire, the British establishment. I can’t understand why the British themselves couldn’t understand that Philby was raised to hate the British establishment and how they could have doubted that he and his father were both disloyal. St. John Philby, the father, was only interested in himself and the Saudi Arabians. His son, of course, was picked up by the Russians and he became anti establishment during the 40s and 50s being anti British and anti American.

S: There wasn’t a way to become anti establishment other than to become a Communist at that point in time?

E: He thought it was. There were many people in the United States who were liberal, members of the Labor Party, members of the Democratic party, members of the American Labor Party that were not Communists in the United States. The National Lawyers Guild, which is different than the National Bar Association, was an alternative and liberal but was not Communist, it was anti-Communist.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s