Your Military Historian Sucks

von Marwitz

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Agreed. I would add one other limitation: plenty of studies have show that eye witnesses are unreliable. While we must accept them because it is hard to find a better source, we have to also accept the story they tell has limitations and is likely to run afoul of your "other type" revisionism on some level. -- jim
There is truth in this. Memory is something that can alter and change over the course of the years despite those who relate it will swear it is what they experienced and are convinced of it.

The best source of reports of what actually happened - with regard to personal experience - are often those noted down immediately after the event or very soon thereafter.

That said, the limitations of what the person in question could actually oversee and interpret correctly need to be taken into consideration. The same is true for the viewpoints taken back then. As Jim said: They have to be evaluated within the historical context back then.

So the best sources would be well informed individuals that recorded their experiences just after they happened which are then later collected and analyzed with scientific methods by people who have no personal interest in a personal rather than neutral and detached interpretation.

von Marwitz
 

Michael Dorosh

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Memory is something that can alter and change over the course of the years despite those who relate it will swear it is what they experienced and are convinced of it.
The fact that you are the fourth person in this thread to point it out suggests that memory retention is even worse than you have described it.

Also the fact that the OP's actual question has escaped your notice....

Which historians do you like, and why?
 

holdit

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Which historians do you like, and why?
For WW2, Beevor and Hastings (whose work on Vietnam was also excellent). I might be adding James Holland to the list once I've got round to his work on Normandy. Cornelius Ryan of course who I believe pioneered the helicopter-and-worm's-eye-view style, even if his works are now out-of-date. Dislike: Stephen Ambrose. Nothing against E/506th but I think there's a difference between history and hero-worship. Other dislike: Bruce Quarrie.

Allen Guelzo wins the American Civil War section by default because his "Gettysburg: The Last Invasion" is the only ACW work I've ever read. But I thought it was it was superb.

For Napoleonics, Adam Zamoyski for his superb account of the 1812 campaign and his biography of Napoleon. Alessandro Barbero for his account of Waterloo, and J.R. Elting for "Swords Around a Throne" and the "Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars" (a beautiful coffee-table book). "Swords" may not be 100% sound in it's historicity but it's a terrific read.

In ancient history I'm only a little better-read than I am for the American Civil War, but Mary Beard and Tom Holland are excellent. Beard's enthusiasm for the history of Rome is infectious and thought-provoking and Holland's narrative approach is highly entertaining and informative, even if the style demands that the arguments for how he arrives at conclusions are left out. His "Rubicon" and "Dynasty" are must-reads for anyone interested in how the Roman Republic went pear-shaped and became an empire, albeit one that pretended it was still a republic.

Lastly, a shout out for John Ellis and John Keegan. Ellis's "The Sharp End of War" is an eye-opening work about the reality of the life of an infantryman in the front lines. Keegan's "The Face of Battle", with its examinations of the battles of Agincourt, Waterloo and The Somme from the point of view how they were experienced by the men who fought in them, is surely a must-read for anyone interested in military history.
 

Thunderchief

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According to eyewitness accounts, the Germans had several tens of thousands of Tigers in France and Germany in 1944.
True.

But if you think about it, when someone is being fired on by an enemy weapon, an "88" might be a 47mm or a 105mm or an 88mm, a "Tiger" might be a Pz IV, StuG or a Tiger, but the person on the receiving end is not likely to call out "Excuse me, I hope to survive the war and write about it later on, can you please identify your weaponry so I can make my account as correct as possible." Considering how many different weapons of different origins were facing the Normandy beaches, the likelihood that someone was being fired on by an 88 was very small, but it certainly might have felt like it.

So there is what it "felt like" and what was happening, and a reader has to sometimes work this out for themselves.
 

holdit

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True.

But if you think about it, when someone is being fired on by an enemy weapon, an "88" might be a 47mm or a 105mm or an 88mm, a "Tiger" might be a Pz IV, StuG or a Tiger, but the person on the receiving end is not likely to call out "Excuse me, I hope to survive the war and write about it later on, can you please identify your weaponry so I can make my account as correct as possible." Considering how many different weapons of different origins were facing the Normandy beaches, the likelihood that someone was being fired on by an 88 was very small, but it certainly might have felt like it.

So there is what it "felt like" and what was happening, and a reader has to sometimes work this out for themselves.
And if you look at the Pz IV H/J with that round turret skirt, and the similar muzzle brake it's easy to see how in the smoke, confusion and trousers-wetting suddenness of it all, one might assume that it was a Tiger being engaged.
 

Actionjick

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True.

But if you think about it, when someone is being fired on by an enemy weapon, an "88" might be a 47mm or a 105mm or an 88mm, a "Tiger" might be a Pz IV, StuG or a Tiger, but the person on the receiving end is not likely to call out "Excuse me, I hope to survive the war and write about it later on, can you please identify your weaponry so I can make my account as correct as possible." Considering how many different weapons of different origins were facing the Normandy beaches, the likelihood that someone was being fired on by an 88 was very small, but it certainly might have felt like it.

So there is what it "felt like" and what was happening, and a reader has to sometimes work this out for themselves.
88 or 9mm, if it's got your name on it the day isn't going to end well.
 

Actionjick

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Totally agree, getting shot at by anything can cause a "significant emotional event" in the words of Nicholas Moran.
Played wargames against another sub. I was on watch in the lower level engine room when suddenly CLANG!! A rubber tipped torpedo hit about 50 feet forward of where I was. Funny feeling.
 

Eagle4ty

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Totally agree, getting shot at by anything can cause a "significant emotional event" in the words of Nicholas Moran.
I can attest it's an attention-getter for sure, though there is that WTF moment when you're sure that RPG projectile was as big as a beach ball (I'll swear to it!).:eek:
 

Gordon

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Played wargames against another sub. I was on watch in the lower level engine room when suddenly CLANG!! A rubber tipped torpedo hit about 50 feet forward of where I was. Funny feeling.
What wargame? Via Skype or PBEM?

Just kidding, I know what wargame, Wooden Ships & Iron Men. ;)
 

The Purist

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Donald Kagan for his treatise on the Peloponnesian War

Tom Holland for his "Persian Fire", "Dynasty", "In the Shadow of the Sword" and "Millennium"

Adrian Goldsworthy and Peter Heather for their works on Rome, Caesar, Augustus, the collapse of the empire and 'Barbarian' migrations

Norman F Cantor's "The Civilization of the Middle Ages". This is a must read classic of the rise of the Church and its evolution in medieval Europe.

John Julius Norwich for his three volume history of "Byzantium" and "The Middle Sea"

Dan Jones and Allison Weir for their books on late medieval Britain.

Tim Blanning for his "The Pursuit of Glory - Europe 1648-1815"

Barbara Tuchman for "The Guns of August" and "The Proud Tower" concerning WWI. In the same genre is Margret MacMillan's "The War that Ended Peace" and "Paris 1919"

For WWII Barrie Pitt, Michael Carver, Glantz & House, Stahel and D'Este.
 

Yuri0352

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Anyone interested in military history should watch the BBC program "Once Upon a Time in Iraq":


History told by the people who were there..........
I watched this last week on PBS, an excellent and heartbreaking account of the war and its effect upon the civilian population and their society.
Highly recommended.
 

holdit

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Anyone interested in military history should watch the BBC program "Once Upon a Time in Iraq":


History told by the people who were there..........
Irish IP addresses are locked out of the BBC player, but I see it's on Sky at the moment (episodes 1 and 2 already aired). I've set the rest to record.
 

Sparafucil3

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Irish IP addresses are locked out of the BBC player, but I see it's on Sky at the moment (episodes 1 and 2 already aired). I've set the rest to record.
VPN's are your friend. I am living in Germany but that's not what my VPN says ;) -- jim
 
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