Why We Prefer Our War Stories Simple
From the We Have Ways of Making You Talk Podcast
We Have Ways of Making You Talk is a weekly show exploring the war in close up, hosted by comedian Al Murray and historian James Holland as they discuss all matters Second World War.
In this episode, the battles of late 1944 are examined as James Holland and Al Murray explore the front line post Market Garden. Also up for discussion are the Polish soldiers who survived the hardships of the Russian gulag before returning to the allied line at Monte Cassino.
From the episode:
Al Murray: I think one of the interesting things about that narrative is D-Day, it’s an unequivocal moment, isn’t it? An awful lot happens on one day. It’s a battle you can look at in a 24-hour thing and go, they’re trying to achieve this, they do or they don’t. When you get into the Normandy battle, when you enter into the colossal cracks phase, people tend to focus on Goodwood and COBRA because the rest, again, is complicated and murky and core-level strategy and all that sort of thing. It’s nowhere near clear-cut, let’s be honest now. Arnhem after all is only nine days, so it’s a nice tidy battle you can write about in one book quite easily. This campaign tends to be written up in terms of decisive moments, because after all, what we really want when we read military history is decisive battles, isn’t it? Your Waterloos, your Trafalgars. It’s the tradition, isn’t it? So D-Day sort of fills in for that—even though it isn’t in that category at all—D-Day fills in in that way, of a day you can at least look at and get your head around and go, they’re trying to achieve five things, they achieved them.
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