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  • #118740
    OchoinOchoin
    Participant

    I’m reading Len Deighton’s opus on WW2, ‘Blood, Tears and Folly’.

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/482122.Blood_Tears_and_Folly

    It’s a well written and informative book with one flaw.

    Evidently, both before and during the war, Britain could do nothing right.

    Its leadership was myopic, its industry was worthless, weapon design was hopeless, military leaders at best were colossal blunderers, its strategy flawed, intelligence was stupid,  etc etc It all began to grate, after a while.

    I had to check another book to see f Britain actually won the war.

     

    donald

    • This topic was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by MikeMike.
    #118742
    Phil DutréPhil Dutré
    Participant

    I am not familiar with the specific book, but sometimes reading a book that doesn’t reinforce your own view can provide you with a different outlook 😉 At least you can examine the arguments he’s making, and ask yourself why he’s coming to that conclusion.

    It all seems obvious after the fact the Allies won the war, but I suspect that if you would have asked the decision-makers involved at the time, it was not so obvious at all. Not until Stalingrad in early 43 did it become clear that German could be beaten and the war slowly started to turn. Despite all the stories about D-Day, many analysts say the war was won on the banks of the Volga.

    You also have to be able to look past the post-war rhetoric and pr (up to this day :-)) to really judge the various decisions that were made at the time.

    I had to check another book to see f Britain actually won the war.

    There are also other countries besides Britain that lay claim that they have won the war, with some minor help from others. 🙂
    It was an Allied effort, everyone did their bit, some did a bigger bit than others …

    • This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by Phil DutréPhil Dutré.

    Tiny Tin Men Blog: http://snv-ttm.blogspot.com/
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    #118747
    OchoinOchoin
    Participant

    Phil, you need to read the book in question. Did Britain make errors? Sure, but they did stand up to the Nazis when the rest of Europe had either been soundly beaten or had joined with Hitler.

    Were they on the winning side ie did they win? I checked that other book again and it seems they did.

    Revisionists have to make a plausible case. Deighton goes, IMO, way too far.

     

    donald

    • This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by OchoinOchoin.
    #118749
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Evidently, both before and during the war, Britain could do nothing right.

    Its leadership was myopic, its industry was worthless, weapon design was hopeless, military leaders at best were colossal blunderers, its strategy flawed, intelligence was stupid, etc etc It all began to grate, after a while.

    I had to check another book to see f Britain actually won the war.

    For many years in naval wargaming I observed that a lot of wargamers seemed to subscribe to the principle that the Royal Navy was vastly inferior to every navy it had ever beaten for the past 300 years.

    Much the same sort of priciple seemed to apply to the Army, especially in the First World War, or if Monty was in charge.

    Some of this was doubtless a useful corrective to the boastful imperial tone of a lot of British material published during wartime — Corelli Barnett’s “the Desert Generals” and “the Audit of War” are good serious history. “Lions led by Donkeys”, on the other hand, was meretricious drivel written by a dilettante historian for purposes of sensationalism. The sensational may sell books, but it usually makes for poor history. I reckon Len Deighton (a wargamer, after all) is less guilty of this than many popular historians. At least he doesn’t publish books with “myth” in the title, or “the untold story”, usually both pretty good indicators that bunkum is being peddled.

    All the best,

    John.

    #118750
    WhirlwindWhirlwind
    Participant

    Donald,

    I recently read Max Hastings’ “All Hell Let Loose” and that had something of the same flavour.  I think that it is a reaction, conscious or not, against a perceived popular narrative that the UK did more and better during the war than is historically sustainable and the contribution of its Allies and the extent of its failures was downplayed.  To be honest, Correlli Barnett was making a living off this approach 40-50 years ago!  But there might be more of a popular market for it now that the actual wartime generation and their children are getting on.  And it is also worth remembering that there are sections of UK society which have always resisted the UK’s approach and contribution, from a variety of political viewpoints.

    And you are absolutely right – some (not all) of the revisionism is often unfair, inaccurate, biased or mischevious.

     

     

     

    • This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by WhirlwindWhirlwind.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #118762
    Thaddeus BlanchetteThaddeus Blanchette
    Participant

    There is a natural tendency for people to think THEIR country did more than all the others. I often have to “defend” one or another side in the classroom. If I am with pro-U.S., anti-communist students, many of them are SHOCKED to learn that the Soviet Union did the vast majority of the fighting, bleeding and winning in WWII, that Leningrad alone suffered more dead than the whole of the U.S. in that war.

    But then when the communist students start feeling smug, I have to point out that Stalin would have gotten his ass kicked seven ways to Sunday if it weren’t for American material aid. That in spite of Soviet propaganda, they weren’t exactly the industrial juggernaut they portrayed themselves as.

    And then when the pro-U.S. crowd starts feeling chipper again, I have to remind them of Kasserine Pass and Monty’s quip that “we have our own Italians now”.

    Frankly, there were enough bloody fuck ups to go around, you know what I mean?

    To my mind, the folks who won the war were the girls and boys at Bletchely Park — and while that was a majorly British effort, it was also transallied, beginning with the Poles.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #118765
    Thaddeus BlanchetteThaddeus Blanchette
    Participant

    This is one of those debates like “Who invented the airplane?”

    And you know what “revisionism” means? It means “a new way of looking at history that doesn’t jibe with what I was taught”. That is all.

    ALL history is revisionism because the past is not fixed in stone and our grasp of it is imperfect. Like all science, history just tries to find the most sustainable hypothesis that accounts for all the known facts. But because human affairs are a chaotic process, even if all the facts were know, we’d still have differing views about how to put them together.

    In my opinion, people who use “revisionism” to disparage explanations they don’t lime are usually “politically correct” in the sense that they are wedded to a certain moral ormpolitical view of history.

    That said, yes, “the myth of” or “the untold story of” in a title usually indicates bullshit. There are exceptions, however, because a lot of “history” is, in fact, mythical and part of a historians job is constantly sweeping back the bullshit.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #118767
    Thaddeus BlanchetteThaddeus Blanchette
    Participant

    Here’s an example of what I am talking about, folks: when did World War Two actually start? And when did World War I finish?

     

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #118770
    Not Connard SageNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    Let’s not engage in too much self deception.

    The Channel saved Britain in 1940. If we’d had a land border with Europe it would have been the fall of France over again. ‘Plucky Britain standing alone’ until 1942 wouldn’t have happened, and history might have been very different.

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #118772
    Not Connard SageNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    Here’s an example of what I am talking about, folks: when did World War Two actually start? And when did World War I finish?

     

    September 1 1939. The unpleasantnesses with Finland/Russia and China/Japan don’t count.However much revisionist historians want them to

    1921. The internal problems that Germany had afterwards, and the rise of Hitler may have been due to World War I, but they weren’t a continuation of it. However much…etc.

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #118781
    Guy FarrishGuy Farrish
    Participant

    The Channel saved Britain in 1940.

     

    (And the Royal Navy lurking in and around it – at least that’s what my father told me – but then he was in …the RN)

    #118786
    RhodericRhoderic
    Participant

    I’m inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to the various nations’ militaries that didn’t get the chance to prove what kind of defense effort they could have achieved with the English Channel in between.

    #118791
    Fredd Bloggs
    Participant

    To be fair, it was not just the channel, but the mixed nations of Fighter Command who had the right planes in the right place. The navy was the reason we actually had troops in Britain in June 1940 in case of invasion. Let us not forget bomber command, again of mixed nationalities fighting the battle of the barges over the French ports.

     

    #118796
    OchoinOchoin
    Participant

    I, of course, have no issues with a discussion that’s moved away from my OP: that’s the internet.

    However, just to make sure my position is clear.

     

    Revisionism. Fine, if you can make a plausible case, not so if you can’t. IMO Deighton over eggs the pudding.

    ‘My country, right or wrong’. Not my position. Britain made plenty of poor decisions. Singapore anyone?

    The Allied effort. The case that it was a combination of countries against the Nazis was established long ago.

    Deighton’s book? A pretty good effort but swayed by class prejudice (I think) to make a case.

     

    donald

    #118809
    Thorsten FrankThorsten Frank
    Participant

    Viewed from the side of the looser you are all wrong! 😉
    No, one of the things I learned through wargaming is to take a step back and view it from the outside. I grew up in an environment were I got told (through movies!) that German soldiers in WWII were complete morons, techhically inferior and they always seemed to be numerically superior. In school I got told they were the all evil. Then I learned that they actually got the opposing sides something to bother, they weren´t numerically superior and even had the technoligical edge in some areas. You know what that makes out of a young soul. Gladly my father, who was most of his life* and especially at this time a staunch nationalist, brought me down to earth (he was a Panzeraufklärer in WWII). Then I went to the military myself and got my own experiences – and was introduced to board games back then (it was there were I first encountered WH40k, Harpoon and some strategic board games).
    But it was with this experiences that I started to view wars from a neutral point, even if Germany (or it´s predecessors) was part of it, and I started to respect the ivolved forces. Just as an example two decades ago I was playing a game in a neighbouring city which had an US garrison. We played an 1941 Eastern Front game** and the G.I. I should play with was disappointed because “they didn´t want to play the Soviets and I surley wanted to play the Wehrmacht” – that made me laugh.  I absolutely hadn´t any problems with playing the Red Army. Not at all! (and I gave this guy something to think about). Another good teacher were the FYI articles in the Strategy and Tactics magazine and James F. Dunnigans texts in general.
    It´s mostly this why I mostly play Sci-Fi games – it´s history not yet written. Even opposing players have generally lesser problems if they play a side that´s not affiliated with a historic entity.***
    My two cents to this topic.

    *He radically changed to a rather left wing anarchism (after I “forgot accidentally” some “books” at home) in his last 15 years of life and accepted, at least most, of the dark points of our history.
    ** can´t remember the scenario and which rule set.
    *** My current problem with WH40K (fandom): there are currently A LOT of players which only play The Empire, treat it like a role model for reality  and start crying if those pesky green skins blast their Ultramarines from the table – I had to see this in RL again on a small con in a neighbouring city… that was a very sad sight.

    "In strange grammar this one writes" - Master Yoda

    #118813
    Phil DutréPhil Dutré
    Participant

    (deleted)

    • This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by Phil DutréPhil Dutré.
    • This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by Phil DutréPhil Dutré.

    Tiny Tin Men Blog: http://snv-ttm.blogspot.com/
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    #118816
    Guy FarrishGuy Farrish
    Participant

    I haven’t read ‘Blood Tears and Folly’ but I have doubts about Deighton. Not in his fiction or general historical writing but in some of the political positioning of his approaches to history.  He was the producer of the film (not credited for a variety of bizarre reasons – you can read about it online somewhere) ‘Oh What A Lovely War!’ which is a great film but not so great as a history of WWI.

    He continues to suggest that the history in the film was rigorously researched and continues to be borne out as time goes on. He is a classic anti-Haig man and firmly in the Lions Led by Donkeys camp.

    Class undoubtedly plays quite a role in his writing, understandably perhaps. If his revisionism (this wasn’t the immediate view of WWI despite what we may think) about WWI is mirrored in  ‘Blood Tears and Folly’ about WWII, you may well be right that he overeggs the anti-British pudding.

    I may have to go and read the damned thing now!

    (The allies won WWI as well, but you wouldn’t know it from the mud blood and endless poetry approach).

    • This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by Guy FarrishGuy Farrish.
    #118822
    Mr. Average
    Participant

    (The allies won WWI as well, but you wouldn’t know it from the mud blood and endless poetry approach).

    As my dad said, “The only good thing to come out of World War I was that Joyce Kilmer didn’t. Spared the West a whole generation of bad poetry.”

    #118852
    OchoinOchoin
    Participant

    I  I may have to go and read the damned thing now! (.

    I will look forward to your estimation.

     

    donald

    #118855
    OchoinOchoin
    Participant

    As my dad said, “The only good thing to come out of World War I was that Joyce Kilmer didn’t. Spared the West a whole generation of bad poetry.”

    There’s a rather poignant CS Forrester story of WW2, where a pom-pom gunner on a RN ship is the author of some evidently world-class poetry. The officer who discovers this through censoring his mail, envisages he will eventually make some profound impact on English literature but the gunner-poet is killed in an air attack. Forrester’s point is that in war, a combatant is far more important than a poet. From my perspective some 70+ years later is the utter waste associated with war.

    donald

    #118859
    Fredd Bloggs
    Participant

    You get a similar point in Spike Milligan about the death in action of Tony Goldsmith, an up and coming playwright at the time.

    #118862
    Darkest Star GamesDarkest Star Games
    Participant

    Forrester’s point is that in war, a combatant is far more important than a poet. From my perspective some 70+ years later is the utter waste associated with war.

    WW1 managed to purge a huge number of very talented artists and designers whose ideas really could have advanced technology more rapidly than occurred.  A brilliant French structural engineer who was designing super-light but strong skyscrapers (which took another 30 years to percolate back up to the surface of design) was wasted in the trenches, and almost all of the early Italian “Futurists” were wiped out at the front in the mountains against the A-H.  And the cream of the British crop was pretty much scythed down in those first 2 years.  Truly a major waste.  This part of my Architectural History classes really bummed me out as we’d learn about some great buildings and designs, and then that the designers had been killed in Ypres, the Somme, Isonzo, or Masuerian.

    But hey, at least we got penicillin out of it.

    (I do wonder how much the losses from WW1 and WW2 has “dumbed down” our world)

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #118879
    Thaddeus BlanchetteThaddeus Blanchette
    Participant

    Why does the Japan/China War not count, but the European War does, NCS?

    I mean, what operational definition of “World War” do we use here?

    I think you can argue it began with China, Ethiopia, the Spanish Civil War, or with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Other people say there was just one World War, with a brief stop for tea and sandwiches at half time.

    All of these can be argued. If you are going to favor one over another, you need to make an argument as to why. Going to see Chinese war museums has shown me that there’re a couple of billion people who’d strenuously disagree with your proposed start date, NCS.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #118886
    Thaddeus BlanchetteThaddeus Blanchette
    Participant

    But hey, at least we got penicillin out of it. (I do wonder how much the losses from WW1 and WW2 has “dumbed down” our world)

    And sanitary napkins and the vote for women.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

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