Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Forward to the past!

This blog began as a class assignment four years ago when I began an MA "programme" in War in the Modern World. The army that I served as a draftee in 1956-1958, and even the one I accompanied for a few months in Vietnam, was essentially the same as the one that fought Germany and Japan in World War II. It was a whole new military that invaded Iraq in March 2003, and I wanted to know more about it. But now I am going from what is certainly the best book about that campaign--Nate Fick's wonderfully engrossing One Bullet Away--all the way back to 1939, when a much more important war began.

World War II has been described as the worst thing that ever happened in the history of man. It didn't affect me that way, because I was quartered safe in various corners of New England, but others were not nearly so fortunate. So what I am reading at this moment is Wladyslaw Anders's Army in Exile, the story of the Polish army corps that was recruited out of the prison camps of the Soviet Union, and that won a strange sort of glory on the heights of Monte Cassino in 1944, breaking the German line and opening the way to Rome. Most of these men, of course, would never go home, because Stalin (with the reluctant agreement of Churchill and Roosevelt) took their home away from them. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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