There’s a common belief that the work of historians consists of collecting ‘the facts’ from documents and writing them down. And that’s it. I mean, how hard can it be? I can’t even begin to express the issues I have with such thinking. But let’s start with the obvious one – ‘the facts’. It’s something … More Figuring out the historical facts from the fakery
It is 77 years since the Second World War broke out – a succession of anniversaries starting on 1 September with the German invasion of Poland, and continuing two days later, 3 September, when the French, the British – and their Empire – declared war on Germany in response. It was a case of political … More The Second World War began 77 years ago this week
A century ago – 1 July 1916 – British soldiers climbed out of their trenches on the Somme front and began advancing towards trenches held by the German Fourth Army. So opened the huge Somme offensive, a combined British-French effort to break the German lines and push through into open country beyond. The plan seemed … More It’s a century since Britain’s advance on the Somme
I posted the other day about the way Germany nearly won the First World War in spring 1918. If Erich von Ludendorff’s gigantic offensive of March-June 1918 had succeeded, Germany would have dominated Europe on land – and with all combatants exhausted by years of fighting, it’s highly likely the Allies would have sought terms. … More What if Germany won the First World War? Would we have avoided Hitler?
It struck me the other day that amid all the ‘what if’ stories about Hitler winning the Second World War, there has been little speculation about the Kaiser winning the first one – which he very nearly did. Twice. The Kaiser’s Germany came very close to winning during the first months of their war, as … More Spring Offensive: how Germany nearly won the First World War in 1918
Facts are curious things. There are empirical facts that can be independently shown to be true. And there are facts we ‘believe’ to be true, which most of us treat as if empirical. I have to share an experience I had involving the latter. Soon after my book on New Zealand’s engineering achievements hit the … More When ego intrudes into the facts of history
US author Chuck Wendig pointed out the other day that virtually all the ‘writing advice’ these days is about getting started. There’s nothing much offered for what he calls ‘mid career’ writers, in particular about what direction they want their career to take. I have to agree with that. Although I don’t like the term, … More Musings on the directions of mid-career writers