The centenary of Chunuk Bair reminds us it’s time to re-think New Zealand’s history. Again.

Four generations have been born in the century – this weekend – since New Zealand forces struggled to the top of Chunuk Bair, then a bare mountain range in the centre of the Gallipoli peninsula. They had come there from the uttermost ends of the Earth – a symbol of the way in which industrial… More The centenary of Chunuk Bair reminds us it’s time to re-think New Zealand’s history. Again.

How many Kiwis fought on Gallipoli? I think the answer’s an essay, not a number

It’s a century, this weekend, since New Zealand forces attacked Chunuk Bair as part of a failed effort to end the Gallipoli campaign. Curiously, we neither know exactly how many New Zealanders fought in that eight-month campaign – or how many became casualties. That question has been exercising some of the key figures in New Zealand’s military-historical community… More How many Kiwis fought on Gallipoli? I think the answer’s an essay, not a number

Duelling in the desert – the Kiwi way

For three years from 1940 the Second New Zealand Division, led by Lieutenant-General Sir Bernard Freyberg, fought in the North African desert against a combined German-Italian army eventually led by Field-Marshal Erwin Rommel. It was an astonishing campaign that see-sawed across hundreds of kilometres of desert – the arbiter, always, being the supply lines. In the… More Duelling in the desert – the Kiwi way

Why history is really a ‘today’ thing

I’m always intrigued by the way people generally view history. To some  it’s a dead past, uninteresting. Others look on it as a trainspotting exercise in data-collection. Academics, on my experience, use the subject as a device for validating self-worth. Henry Ford, reputedly, insisted history was ‘bunk’. In a way he was right, because we… More Why history is really a ‘today’ thing

Heralding the decline and fall of the west, apparently

The other day I found a tweet by Stephen Fry linking to a Texan college video in which students working to become lawyers, psychologists, and so on, didn’t know who’d won the US Civil War. Or who their Vice President was. Fry wondered if it was evidence of Spengler’s The Decline and Fall of the West. I’m not… More Heralding the decline and fall of the west, apparently

How I went into single combat on TV, intellectually speaking, with Antony Beevor

It’s a decade since I took on Anthony Beevor on TV, over his comments about Bernard Freyberg and his role in losing the 1941 Battle for Crete. I wasn’t able to get a face-to-face interview, but I was able to appear on Mike Hosking’s Sunday show in riposte to remarks Beevor made on the same show a week… More How I went into single combat on TV, intellectually speaking, with Antony Beevor