Customer Reviews


3 Reviews
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incisive debunking of the mythology of war, 12 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Smoke and the Fire: Myths and Anti-myths of War, 1861-1945 (Paperback)
This book should be on the syllabus for any student of the past (and future) practice of war.
Interestingly, he spans not just the wars of the 20th century but also those in the previous period which set the scene for all modern "industrial wars". So he is able to show how the US civil war foreshadowed much that was to happen a few decades later.
I have always been intrigued by the way that the reporting of wars colours the way those conflicts are viewed by future students. What was once half-seen or even imagined in the smoke of battle, becomes publically accepted and regurgitated in our folklore. As he so cogently reveals, this is not only obscures the truth but prevents that truth from being seen and acted upon in future wars.
Reading it made me reappraise my views of these wars and want to read more of his books. I read the Thin Blue Line a decade ago and was similarly made to think - and feel not a little sorrow for those brave people.
What would be nice to see is his view of the last "great wars" of the 20th century - Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. I suspect it would be only to say history and its myths constantly repeat themselves.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written and informative, 23 Jan 2003
By 
Mr. O. G. M. Drewett (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Smoke and the Fire: Myths and Anti-myths of War, 1861-1945 (Paperback)
Those who think they already posess an in-depth knowledge of the wars in the period concerned will find parts of Terraine's book a little shocking. But it is in any case essential for those who seek the truth. Mainly focussing on the first world war, it is well backed with evidence and argued persuasively. This book plays an important part in challenging some of the myths that have inevitably arisen from war books over the years. It ocassionally seems monotonous but is well worth sticking with!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE MYTH-BUSTER, 30 Dec 2011
By 
Stephen Cooper (South Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Smoke and the Fire: Myths and Anti-myths of War, 1861-1945 (Paperback)
John Terraine (1921 - 2003) was a screenwriter and producer for TV, best known for 'The Great War', which I remember watching on BBC in 1963-4. He was also a prolific author. This book is one of many which discusses the myths which grew up around the First World War in the late 1920s, were lent respectability by Lloyd George, Winston Churchill and the War Poets, and were encapsulated in the film 'Oh! What a Lovely War' in 1963.

The main myths were: that a whole generation of men had been lost; that the Generals could have avoided this bloodshed if they had tried an indirect approach, rather than hammering away on the Western Front; that the machine-gun was responsible for more deaths than any other weapon; that tanks could have won the war with far fewer casualties; that the British troops were `lions led by donkeys'; and, perhaps most widespread of all, that the War was in any event `futile'.

Terraine demolishes these in turn, often by reference to hard statistics. He shows that the mortality, while devastating, was not catastrophic; that the only way to defeat the German Army was to deploy an army of similar size against it, which the British were unable to do before 1916; that shellfire was more lethal than the machine gun; that the tanks available were primitive beasts, few in number, very slow and extremely vulnerable; that the British generals were as good as any and better than most; and that a War which defeated Germany and liberated Belgium and North-Eastern France could hardly be said to be pointless - especially when one compares the outcome in the West with the kind of peace which the Germans dictated in the East, where they were victorious.

I find these arguments entirely convincing; and the work of Gary Sheffield has to my mind amply confirmed Terraine's conclusions; but one cannot help wondering whether both historians have set himself a thankless and ultimately impossible task. The facts are not so powerful as poetry or spectacle; and 'Oh! What a Lovely War' was a very popular film, because it told people what they wanted to hear. The myths remain very powerful and, ultimately, it is of no great comfort to the grieving widow to be told that it could all have been a lot worse.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Smoke and the Fire: Myths and Anti-myths of War, 1861-1945
The Smoke and the Fire: Myths and Anti-myths of War, 1861-1945 by John Terraine (Paperback - 14 Sep 1993)
Used & New from: £6.19
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews