Ralph de Toledano
Ralph de Toledano (August 17, 1916 – February 3, 2007) was a major figure in the conservative movement in the United States throughout the second half of the 20th century. A friend of president Richard Nixon's, he was a journalist and editor of Newsweek and the National Review, and the author of 26 books, including two novels and a book of poetry. Alongside his political contributions, he also wrote about music, particularly jazz.
de Toledano was born in Tangiers, Morocco, the son of Simy (Nahon), a former news correspondent, and Haim Toledano, a businessman and journalist. His parents were both Sephardic Jews who were American citizens. Toledano was brought to New York when only five years old. A proficient violinist from childhood, he attended the Ethical Culture Fieldston School and the Juilliard School.
Later, at Columbia University, Toledano studied literature and philosophy; he also became President of the Philolexian Society and a contributor to Jester of Columbia. In addition, he joined the Socialist Party of America, becoming youth leader of the avowedly anticommunist "Old Guard" faction led by Louis Waldman. The Old Guard left the Socialist Party in 1936. He graduated from Columbia University in 1938. In 1940 Toledano became editor of the Socialist Party magazine, The New Leader, succeeding James Oneal.
During the war years, Toledano was drafted and became an anti-aircraft gunner before being transferred to the Office of Strategic Services and trained for covert work in Italy. However he was ultimately not sent to Italy, as the OSS felt he was "too anti-Communist to work with Italian leftists."
Pursuing a career in journalism, after several journalistic jobs Toledano joined Newsweek in 1948. Toledano covered the 1950 perjury trial of Alger Hiss (Hiss being accused of being a Soviet spy), and in what the New York Times later described as "his political turning point", Toledano sided with Hiss' accuser, Whittaker Chambers. Toledano co-wrote an "intensely partisan" book about the trial (Seeds of Treason, 1950) and became a Republican. Toledano met Richard Nixon during the case, and during Toledano's coverage of Nixon's 1950 Senate campaign, Nixon would have him address crowds, introducing him as the author of Seeds of Treason. Around the same time (October 1950 – April 1951) Toledano co-hosted the television series Our Secret Weapon: The Truth.
Toledano was among the founders of National Review in 1955, and in 1960 began a column for the King Features Syndicate. His differences with his conservative National Review colleagues became very pronounced before long, first in 1960 when Toledano dissented from the other National Review editors when they endorsed Barry Goldwater while Toledano supported Nixon. By 1963 Toledano had switched to supporting Goldwater.
Years later when Nixon became president, Toledano was particularly close to the administration, in a rivalry with Daniel Patrick Moynihan over the privilege of being named guru of Nixon's domestic policies, which conservatives both supporting and opposing them characterized as a kind of Tory socialism. Moynihan's victory in this struggle was likely a key moment in the rise of neoconservatism.
Never straying far from his first passion of music, Toledano distinguished himself as an avid scholar of jazz. During the latter half of his long career at National Review, he was relegated to writing a music review column, on account of his growing variance with the direction of American conservatism. He also wrote about music a good deal (by no means only jazz) for The American Conservative during his last years.
Toledano held forth until the end of his life at the National Press Club. There, in 2005, he succeeded John Cosgrove as National Press Club American Legion Post No. 20 commander.
The last book Toledano wrote, Cry Havoc: The Great American Bring-down and How It Happened was published in 2006, shortly before his 90th birthday. National Review founder William F. Buckley, Jr. said about it: "Cry Havoc! is must reading ... writing at Ralph de Toledano's best" which "focuses on the historical and the contemporary, casting a sharp light on the players and the events of our deeply troubled times." Professor Paul Gottfried (a fairly frequent contributor, like Toledano, to The American Conservative) wrote that "Toledano uncovers continuities between the Frankfurt School's conspiracy and the rampant cultural terrorism in America."
A 1975 lawsuit by Ralph Nader against Toledano dragged through the courts for years, costing Toledano his life savings. The lawsuit concerned an alleged suggestion by de Toledano (which Nader rejected) that Nader had 'falsified and distorted' evidence about the Chevrolet Corvair's handling. It was eventually settled out of court.
Death and legacy
Ralph de Toledano died February 3, 2007 in Bethesda, Maryland, aged 90.
- Seeds of Treason (with Victor Lasky) (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1950)
- Spies, Dupes, and Diplomats (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1952)
- Nixon (New York: Holt, 1956)
- Lament for a Generation (New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1960)
- The Winning side, the Case for Goldwater Republicanism (New York: Putnam, 1963)
- The Greatest Plot in History (New York; Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1963)
- RFK, the Man Who Would Be President (New York: Putnam, 1967)
- One Man Alone (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1969)
- J. Edgar Hoover (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1973)
- Let Our Cities Burn (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1975)
- Hit and Run (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1975)
- The Apocrypha of Limbo (Gretna, LA: Pelican, 1994)
- Notes from the Underground (Washington: Regnery, 1997)
- Cry Havoc: The Great American Bring-down and How It Happened (New York: Anthem, 2006)
- Day of Reckoning (New York: Holt, 1955)
- Devil Take Him (New York: Putnam, 1979)
- Poems, You and I (Gretna, LA: Pelican, 1978)
- Frontiers of Jazz (New York: O. Durrell, 1947)
- Satchmo at the National Press Club: Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours: Louis Armstrong, Tyree Glenn, Tommy Gwaltney (Smithsonian Folkways Special Series, 1972) - linear notes for recording
- Martin, Douglas (2007-02-06). "Ralph de Toledano, 90, Writer Known as a Nixon Friend, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
- Holley, Joe (2007-02-07). "Ralph de Toledano, 90; Ardent Conservative". Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
- Back cover of Cry Havoc
- "Satchmo at the National Press Club: Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours". Smithsonian Folkways. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- "Amy Henderson: Satchmo at the National Press Club". Smithsonian - Around the Mall. 24 April 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- Interview with Ralph de Toledano
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- American Music: Classical, Popular, & Jazz
- Online Archive of California Register of the Ralph De Toledano Papers, 1940–1971