Writing on military history, war reporting, military book reviews, military publishers, army, navy, air force, world wars, military publications, military memoirs, historical novels, Great War, World War One, World War Two, Anglo-Boer War, combat, medals, militaria.
[Copyright Sidney Allinson 2010. May be re-printed on condition attribution is stated along with a URL link
One of the most exasperating features of many "historical novels written these days is the distorting use of presentism. It is typified by a writer's sometimes ludicrous insertion of 21st century manners, standards, and attitudes into stories set in purportedly historical eras.
Just now, I came across a quotation that well defines this plague that has been brought about by either political correctness or sloppy research:
"In apocalyptic style, he (Jonathan Clark) says that presentism 'reaches back into the past to silence its message'."
[Stephen Howe; Fade to Blue; Independent (London, UK); Jul 12, 2003.]
This is to announce that a revised new edition of my 1981 [non-fiction] historical book, "THE BANTAMS: The Untold Story Of World War One" is being re-published this very day, Pen & Sword Books, UK.. It contains much detail of daily life on the home front in Britain and Canada during World War One -- "The Great War" -- and also presents an unblinking picture of trench warfare in France and Belgium during the 1914-1918 era. My book is a unique study of the 50,000 British and Canadian men below the regulation height of 5ft. 3ins. who volunteered to serve in Bantam battalions during the First World War. 'Based on many personal wartime recollections of 350 veteran Bantams I interviewed, plus accurate first-hand accounts of trench warfare, and includes numerous rare photographs of the Great War never published elsewhere. Originally published in London, England, this revised version also contains a good deal of new information that was not public knowledge when I originally researched it -- including disquieting details of military executions.
War and military events have forged the entire history of humankind throughout the 50,000 years of our known existence. Despotism, cruelty, and oppression, democracy, politics, nationhood, exploration, religions, social development, the spread of tyranny, prejudice, pestilence, tolerance, and ideals, the evil of slavery and its abolition, advances in medicine, technology, science, and the arts -- all came about as the result of warfare, and continue to do so.
This is not said to glorify war; quite the contrary. Nobody detests the pain, horror, and wholesale deaths of combat more than do warriors themselves. Yet, over the past few decades, public understanding of the importance of military history to our society today has become so eroded as to be virtually non-existent, and the armed services have fallen into disrepute. This change has come about over the past 30 years, largely because study of history in general, and military history in particular, is no longer taught by most schools and universities in English-speaking countries. Whenever military issues ever do happen by chance to be raised in academe, teachers' most common response is cliche-ridden scorn and pacifist distortion, born of their own personal lack of knowledge about actual political/military events of the past.
Print and broadcast media are also dominated by the new dogma of 'political correctness' that rejects the validity of patriotism and the harsh lessons of history that has proved time and again the necessity of democratic nations sometimes needing to go to war to protect their very survival. Press pundits and television anchor-persons habitually show an almost laughable ignorance of the historical background of the countries, conflicts, or disasters they gravely purport to be explaining. They rarely offer any historical perspective, but instead often perpetuate the widespread simple ignorance of past events that has brought about a sort of naive expectation of permanent universal peace.
Seldom mentioned now in the halls of academe or by TV and newspapers, is that the very freedom we enjoy in Western countries today was bought at the human cost of millions of men and women who fought and died to defeat oppressive regime. As a military historian myself, who has researched and written about military affairs for many years, I believe that more widespread understanding of the role of warfare in world history is the best possible weapon in the struggle for world peace.
From time to time, I intend to write on this 'blog' about the enjoyment and benefits of studying and writing military history, with excerpts from my own books and those of other authors.I intend this site to develop and grow gradually, with added helpful information about writing and reading military books, articles, theses, movie scripts, and Web sites. As part of a collective process, I cordially welcome comments from like-minded visitors about the topic and any other suggested readings in military history they care to share here. Best Regards.
-- Sidney Allinson.