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Eugene Rodgers on: Understanding Byrd's Character
Eugene Rodgers Q: Why do you think it's so difficult to get a handle on Byrd?

ER: Byrd is a very complex man. He dared great things and people who dare great things have many sides to them. Ah, he had to chisel his image, he had to step on people sometimes. Um, he was a, a shy man I think, but he had to be in the public eye all the time. He did things, and I was constantly surprised by Byrd, I'd, I think he had some... a motive for doing something, and I find out later he had a separate motive. He was a man of many motives. He wanted to contribute to history and science, he wanted to make money, he wanted to become a hero. And all these forces were churning in him constantly. And which one won out depended on the circumstances. It was hard to know which Byrd you were talking to at one time. The man with the hero mask on? The genuine Byrd. Who was it.


Q: When you say Byrd created a "barrier of illusion" in your book, what did you mean?

ER: Yeah, my book is called, "Beyond the Barrier," and it tells about Byrd's actual flights beyond the barrier, the great wall of ice. And also it goes beyond the barriers of illusion that Byrd created because he was so conscious about his image. And he tried to project himself as the perfect man, doing great things alone and almost unaided by other people. The people he worked with are kind of in the shadows in the books he wrote and in the publicity about them. So Byrd in a way erected illusions. He, he did make mistakes, he did have flaws. This is certainly not to say that Byrd was not a great man. I mean after all, in my book, I place Byrd under a great microscope. I don't think any other person in history, certainly none I know about, has ever been examined in such detail. Forty-two men living closely together in confined spaces writing about one another. And they're all writing about Byrd in particular. And later on, some of them wrote books in which they wrote about this experience. So every facet of Byrd was examined and brought out. And I can't think of any other man that could withstand this and come through as well as Byrd did. He drank a bit. He lied sometimes. Stepped on people sometimes, but what great man hasn't.

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