Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12
Results 21 to 30 of 30

Thread: On PBS: The War

  1. #21
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    3,195

    Default

    The 442d has been covered a time or three before this...but like many things in the Italian campaign it ended up for years in more mainstream/popular/watered down history taking a back seat to D-Day and France/Germany.

    And Tom,
    I also liked that the interviews were honest. WWII was quite brutal and the reality was something that was out there but never really addressed. As a youngster, I read a book that was literally a combat diary and after the Bulge, there were repeated statements to the effect, "The boys aren't taking prisoners, today." One of the NCOs in my very first company as a 2LT was a grumpy but motherly Master Sergeant named Burtis. He was a Raider on Guadacanal and his comments to me matched what was said about prisoners in the "long patrol." The savagery in the Pacific especially by 1944 is not something most Americans grasp. And I think it is important that they hear it--with all the emotionalism attached to it.
    This is something that Gene Sledge commented on in his masterpiece "With the Old Breed." One of the things of value that may come from Burns' effort is getting these guys to talk about it. Too many uninformed types think that combat trauma is somehow unique to the Vietnam veteran and fail totally to grasp that all wars are horrible and that savagery isn't a modern invention. The Pacific was absolutely horrific...I think only the Eastern Front and China surpassed it in terms of combat horror. That dimension is often left out today...or distorted to match one agenda or another (as in "only Americans were horrible" or "the Japanese never took prisoners"). Too many people refuse to let go of their own biases and acknowledge that the mask of the beast dwells within each of us, and that in combat that mask is often turned (or breaks) loose.

    Ok...time to get coffee. Bad metaphors/pseudo-philosophic rambling always means time for more coffee.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  2. #22
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    3,195

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam L View Post
    Yes, it is good if people are getting interested and I will give him credit if this does that. Still, if people don't complain that things should be better they aren't going to get better. I will not praise this documentary for the same reason I don't praise Harry Potter. Yes, Harry Potter got kids reading, but it got them reading Harry Potter not good stuff (I do not intend anyone with this statement, but Harry Potter is not well written.) You still have the problem of getting them to make the jump from lower mid quality work (Burns and Harry Potter) to the good stuff [(your pick here for a history) and Tolkien (whatever your opinion of him he wrote beautifully and if you study why, how and when he wrote the book you will understand its significane)(Tolkien was my choice becaus it worked for the analogy)(for those who want a more traditional book how about Milton's Paradise Lost or for kids The Red Badge of Courage)] Yes, anything that results in someone getting interested is good, but I stil wish it was better. As mentioned in my response to Tom I am trying to work on this issue. It is probable that some people may become interested, but it is unlikely (due to lack of dedication and basic research skills, as well as political leanings) that they will truly delve into the subject and study a broad spectrum of works and discussions.

    Sorry, about my outlook and criticism. These days I'm just tired of and depressed about society.

    Adam
    You can't get too picky with this stuff. I've seen people use both Burns and Potter as stepping stones into more serious stuff. Not everyone does, but if just ONE person does make that leap, then someone of value has been accomplished that might otherwise not have happened. I have my own elitist (and yes...it is that...I'll be honest about it) outlook on history (which includes lumping Ambrose in with the plagiarists and disliking Keegan as a shallow re-hasher of ideas...to name two examples), but at the same time I see the value in those people I dislike in that they can act as stepping stones for others into a deeper understanding of the subject. Everyone has to start somewhere, and if a hack or flashy documentary maker can get just one person asking "why" or "I want to know more" or "gee...let's turn off the TV and read" then I'm ok with it.

    Not everyone's going to have that inquiring mind, but in part I blame the education system for that. But to lift a quote from someone else (I think it's Mao, but he might have borrowed it from elsewhere as well), "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single footstep." If "The War" gets some people to take that single footstep, and then keep taking others, then I'm ok with it.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  3. #23
    Council Member Tacitus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Bristol, Tennessee
    Posts
    146

    Default The Battle of San Pietro

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    BTW Mark Clark remained a dirty word in Texas well into the 1960s after what happened to the 36th Division at the Rapido.

    Best

    Tom
    Legendary film director John Huston's 1945 documentary film "The Battle of San Pietro" comes to mind.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Battle_of_San_Pietro
    Thought to be too depressing for the folks back home, he couldn't get it shown until General Marshall himself intervened.
    No signature required, my handshake is good enough.

  4. #24
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    1,665

    Default

    An excellent book on the savagery of the Pacific War is John Dower's War Without Mercy. Not sure I buy his thesis completely (that racist ideology drove war motivation on both Japanese and U.S. sides), but he has a lot of compelling evidence.

    Omer Bartov is also instructive for his work on the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. Another superb book is War of Extermination: The Germany Military in WWII. Ben Shepherd's War in the Wild East: The German Army and Soviet Partisans is also instructive as to German counterinsurgency tactics in the East.
    Last edited by tequila; 10-04-2007 at 07:19 AM.

  5. #25
    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NYS
    Posts
    389

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    You can't get too picky with this stuff. I've seen people use both Burns and Potter as stepping stones into more serious stuff. Not everyone does, but if just ONE person does make that leap, then someone of value has been accomplished that might otherwise not have happened.
    Yes, thay is true. I will praise it for its accomplishments in this area but I shall not exagerate them. We have schools in this country wanting to use both Burns and Potter in the curriculumn. Although I would have to say that most material they are using is just as bad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    I have my own elitist (and yes...it is that...I'll be honest about it) outlook on history (which includes lumping Ambrose in with the plagiarists and disliking Keegan as a shallow re-hasher of ideas...to name two examples), but at the same time I see the value in those people I dislike in that they can act as stepping stones for others into a deeper understanding of the subject.
    I also to happen to be one of the people who is not awed by men like Keegan and Ambrose(I really don't car for either), but atleast they write well and even if Ambrose is a plagarist he atleast plagarises descent stuff. Keegan whatever you may think of him, he is one smart cookie (and a good writer), and atleast presents his arguments in a descent fashion (well balanced and articulated, most of the time.) That is one something Burns does not do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    Everyone has to start somewhere, and if a hack or flashy documentary maker can get just one person asking "why" or "I want to know more" or "gee...let's turn off the TV and read" then I'm ok with it.
    I get the point, but unfortunately this is often outweighed by the amount of ignorant laymen who actually think they know something because they watched the documentary. "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing." My other problem with this argument is that it can be used for almost anything no matter how bad. You have to rate things on a scale. Unfortunately givven the state of most things to day Burns just lands on the side of acceptable. This really pisses me off because there are so many good documentaries out there, but unfortunately there are a whole lot more that are just terrible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    Not everyone's going to have that inquiring mind, but in part I blame the education system for that. But to lift a quote from someone else (I think it's Mao, but he might have borrowed it from elsewhere as well), "the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single footstep." If "The War" gets some people to take that single footstep, and then keep taking others, then I'm ok with it.
    No, not "in part" it is "for the most part" the education system is too blame (parents and society too, but the educational system is terrible.) I get the point of the single footstep, but I'm tired of the people who just take a step and claim its a thousand miles. I know I'm being obstinant here, but if we don't atlest tell people "hey its OK, not great" we are going to have a big problem. As an example, I am not going to praise rap because of the 1 of 100,000 kids who starts listening to the old stuff, learns it was based on walking blues, listens to walking blues and becomes a good blues musician or tracks the music back to jazz and does both. Although, this is an extreme example it is the same scenario. I object to Burns on principle. If everybody just lets this go as "great" work without showing it for what it is, this will become what is considered "great" work and society will take another tumble into the gutter.

    Adam

    P.S. Sorry about this, but I have just seen to many people remain passive or praise this stuff, because it does a little good, and allow this mediocrity to become the societal standard.

  6. #26
    Council Member wm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    On the Lunatic Fringe
    Posts
    1,237

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam L View Post
    . Sorry about this, but I have just seen to many people remain passive or praise this stuff, because it does a little good, and allow this mediocrity to become the societal standard.
    No need to apologize. Unfortunately, I suspect that, to bend an old phrase, "mediocrity is the spice of life," not variety, for many people, and this has probably been the case for millenia.

    IMO, what you are lamenting is just the latest version of the old "bread and circuses" method of keeping the "mob" from getting too restive. You might try reading Tacitus' "Germania" or "Agricola" for an implicit 1st C. AD version of your complaint. Vegetius' Epitoma rei militaris from the 4th/5th C AD similarly harkens back to a "golden age" of Roman military prowess, bemoaning the current state of the Roman military.

  7. #27
    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    NYS
    Posts
    389

    Default

    Thanks for the reading suggestions, I'll probably have some fun with that.

    Thanks,
    Adam

    P.S. I just want to note (you probably got this but I wasn't sure from your post) that the passive people I was refering to are not the mob, but the elites [which in todays society might be us (isn't that a little depressing LOL.)] I am not saying that the mob today isn't passive, because they sure as hell are. Well, the regular one not the Italians, and the Russians are certainly ambitious. LOL.
    Last edited by Adam L; 10-04-2007 at 03:15 PM.

  8. #28
    Council Member carl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denver on occasion
    Posts
    2,460

    Default

    I would recommend the book Touched With Fire by Eric Bergerud. It covers the Japanese, American and Australian ground forces in the Southwest Pacific. I thought it quite good.

  9. #29
    Council Member historyguy99's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    california
    Posts
    16

    Default

    Rick Atkinson's new book "The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy 1943-1944, is a great read that is every bit as good as his "Army at Dawn." Both are give great insight and takes the reader from the White House to the foxhole. They both make a great companion piece to the series.
    www.liberationtrilogy.com

  10. #30
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Largo, Florida
    Posts
    3,989

    Default Thanks...

    Quote Originally Posted by historyguy99 View Post
    Rick Atkinson's new book "The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy 1943-1944, is a great read that is every bit as good as his "Army at Dawn." Both are give great insight and takes the reader from the White House to the foxhole. They both make a great companion piece to the series.
    www.liberationtrilogy.com
    I've read very good reviews concerning Atkinson's books on an e-mail group I belong to. Plan to pick up the two already published - a third is in the works on Normandy, if I remember correctly.

    On edit: I see from the link that the third is, indeed, on Normandy...
    Last edited by SWJED; 10-04-2007 at 10:59 PM.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •