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The following transcription is provided for informational purposes. The content within this transcription is based on a recording and may not be completely accurate or up to date. It is essential to cross-reference the transcription with the original recording to ensure accuracy and context. The transcription may contain subjective opinions, personal experiences, or individual perspectives that should not be taken as universally applicable. Always refer back to the original recording for accurate interpretation and context.
Gary Sheffield [00:00:13] Hello and welcome to Military History. Plus the new podcast devoted to the history of warfare in all its many forms. My name’s Gary Sheffield, and I’m recording this with my friend and colleague, Dr. Spencer Jones.
Spencer Jones [00:00:25] Hello, everyone.
Gary Sheffield [00:00:27] Well, I. SPENCE Well, I think we ought to start off by talking about what we’re going to be. Talking about today. And I should say that in the best traditions of writing a history essay. The last thing we’re recording is the introduction. We’ve already done the series and now we’re going to talk about what you’re going to hear in the series. Well, I think we better start off by saying who we are and what we do. So Spencer would like to introduce yourself.
Spencer Jones [00:00:59] Absolutely. Gary. So I spoke to Jones. I’m currently a senior lecturer in Armed Forces and Wolfson is at the University of Wolverhampton. But I work quite a few facts in military history. So as well as teaching at the university, I’m also the official historian of the Royal Artillery, which I’ve been for incredibly a decade now. And I’m also the president of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides, and I’m a widely published author, and you can find me on various YouTube videos as well, but have appeared over the years. And I’m quite right to say in total, I’ve been viewed over a million times on YouTube. What are these people doing with their time? But they’re watching by videos. But that’s who I am. And obviously it was through the university that you and I met.
Gary Sheffield [00:01:45] Well, that’s right. Yeah. I mean, my background is I’m a professor of war studies, stroke, military history. I retired from the University of Wolverhampton at the end of 2021. Now, in my case, retiring doesn’t mean putting your feet up. It actually means being busier than ever. So actually, I now got no less than three professorship. So I’m emeritus at Wolverhampton, I’m part time professor of military History at University of Buckingham, and I’m visiting Professor in the Defence Studies Department at King’s College London, which is my old department back at the Joint Chiefs of Staff College. I’m really delighted to be back there and I’ve wearing various hats as well, including President of the Western Front Association, and I’m broadly a historian of Britain and the Empire military history in the 20th century, but my interests go all over the place, as we will be discovering in the course of this podcast series. What we thought we would do today is to talk about the slightly strange title of this podcast series, Military History. Plus it does actually have a meaning, and we’re end up with a really big question What is military history? And this, we hope, will set up the rest of the podcast series in which we will be doing various things, talking about not that in a minute, but let’s start by getting to grips with this idea of military history. Plus, So what do we actually mean by a suspension of quiet at this stage?
Spencer Jones [00:03:25] So what we really want to do with this was talk about military history and its broadest sense, because military history itself is very broad. I think the natural reaction to the word military history is to think of battles and combatant points, range, fighting, that kind of thing. But of course, it encompasses so much more. It encompasses politics, encompasses economics, encompasses society, cultural history. The history of war itself is a subject to how people written about war and how do people study. And in a way, military histories is the history of humanity the only species on the planet that actually makes war humans. And so it’s the story of humanity as well. And that gives us just an incredibly broad scope for the study of war and the way the teaching of military history has evolved in universities. It’s really started to. Take a close look at all of these varied aspects. And of course, you can look at it, those various aspects in the hold, or you can apply them to specific wars. And so the canvas that we have is absolutely enormous. And I think that’s one of the things that makes military history such an incredibly exciting subject study.
Gary Sheffield [00:04:36] Yeah, I no, I agree with all of that. And in fact, if you look at the sorts of things that I have written about and you have written about and taught and studied over the years, it’s really quite, quite a mixture because we’ve both done tactical history. We have both discussed the role of individual commanders, but we’ve also looked at the impacts of war and society. We’ve looked at war armies as institutions and we’ve talked on economics and all sorts of stuff. So actually the idea that military historians simply talk about, to put it unkindly, you know, generals and bayonets and tanks, that may have been true in the past may I guess might be true of some a few people today. But generally it’s a much, much broader subject and it’s much richer and more interesting as a result. It’s worth mentioning that we had a bit of problems coming up with the logo because we came up with this idea of military history. Plus it’s a title which encompasses all the things we want to do, and our initial crack at coming up with the logo had the word military history and then the plus side, other words, a cross. And so that makes it look like we’re specialising on the German army in the two world wars, which actually is absolute is not the case. So it’s it’s plus rather than an iron cross. Well, the things that we’re going to be covering in this podcast, we had a long chat about this in advance of recording the series. Obviously, discussions of key topics in military history, including what we’ve called deep dives. So going into some depth into a particular subject and fact, the one we’ve got coming up in the series. You will be hearing it coming up in the series. Is Spencer talking about the first Battle of Bull Run, the the first part of the American Civil War in 1861. And later on in, I guess, our second season, I’ll be doing a deep dive more than one episode actually, on the life and career of Douglas Haig, someone I’ve written an awful lot about, will also be reviewing various books. And also in the series, we sort of got a bit of self-indulgence in which we took some of our favourite books of most books, good, most influential else and talked about them. And also we’ve got in some guest speakers. So this time we’ve had Sarah Louise Miller. And Tom. Tom Thorpe. Well, Tom actually is the man in the engine room, actually, who’s actually our tech guy for the podcast series. He’s also a historian in his own right. And we had a really interesting discussion about his main area of interest, which is combat motivation. And Stuart, say something about about about that’s what Sarah’s subject.
Spencer Jones [00:07:31] Absolutely. Both Sarah is an esteemed historian of British intelligence in the Second World War specifically, which is a very, very broad topic itself, a little like military history. Intelligence history is vast and complex and has got many, many different facets. And Sarah’s episode show, of course, you’re going to hear in the future, is an absolutely excellent deep dive into not only what do intelligence services do in the so-called war, it’s also how do you go about studying history that, by its definition, is classified in secret. And that just shows, again, the richness of the field. Intelligence history is its own branch, but it can also be seen as part of military history. And so we’ve really got the whole world to play with, with this subject.
Gary Sheffield [00:08:15] Yeah, I absolutely. And we’re lining up all sorts of speakers for future seasons, some big well-known names and some up and coming scholars. The one thing they got in common is they’re all brilliant historians and they’re really, really interesting to listen to. I also think we ought to have a health warning at this stage. There be a certain amount of banter occurring at various points of the series, including about football. Now, what I was thinking about. Producing this series. My football team Arsenal, were eight points clear at the top of the premiership and all was looking sunny and bright. Sadly, now the season is over and we fell just short. Still quite so very proud of what we did. So it’s just as well we didn’t go ahead with our original idea of an introductory podcast. I’d look even sillier now than I do normally and ask for your team. Well, I’ll do something for the listeners.
Spencer Jones [00:09:20] I certainly would. So a die hard West Bromwich Albion fan. My father was a just as my father was before me by fateful day when I was a small child, asked if I could go with him to a game. Fell in love with it and still watching. West Bromwich Albion actually die at trouble as a club house fell short of the playoffs in the championship. But but crucially, I’ve got terrible problems off the pitch. Owned by a reclusive and somewhat shady Chinese businessman who’s bleeding the club dry, there’s fears the ground will be sold. Classic example of an English football league club in dire financial trouble and another failure of the fit and proper persons test or ownership of clubs. It’s a story that’s repeated across the lower leagues. But where would we be without teams that struggle? And West Bromwich Albion have had their ups and downs? I’d say in my lifetime they’ve had far more times than UPS, but it makes the ups all the sweeter. And I think I’m intrinsically attracted to underdogs and weak teams because I’m also for American listeners. I’m a huge fan of the Miami Dolphins who in my lifetime is old enough to remember Dan Marino, but otherwise did absolutely nothing for about 23 years. So I’m definitely somebody who’s drawn to the weak teams and we teams with great histories. That’s what I’d say own interests fit well.
Gary Sheffield [00:10:41] I think another way of putting it is unless you’re a fan of one or two, by which I mean one English football team, life is currently a veil of tears, and it always has been.
Spencer Jones [00:10:54] They make it worse as well because the the Ashes, my favourite international event is coming up as well starting later this week. And England’s cricket team don’t look like they’ve got a strong bowling attack on Australia. Look in tremendous form as well coming into the so off or the ten about that one.
Gary Sheffield [00:11:13] Before we put off all our listenership, I think we ought to get back to the subject of military history. Okay. Well, we’ve talked in general terms about what military history is. We do not regard it as being very narrowly about generals and battles and bayonets. We regard as being much broader. But let’s look and put this in a historical context. The phrase sometimes used, even today about the sort of military history that we study and write is the new military history. Now, given the new military history has been going on for 50, if not 60 years, I suspect that’s actually bending the word new out of shape altogether. But it’s worse if we go back a few decades and sort of pick up. When lots of academic. Discipline of military history. Emerge in its modern sense. Now, you can go back to the late 19th century and Hans Delbruck and all the rest of it. But I’d be inclined to actually put it in a British context, as in the 1950s, with the publication of, for example, Michael Howard’s Franco-Prussian War, a book which yes, looked at the nuts and bolts of fighting in general, Japan, all the rest of it, but also put in a much broader context of politics and society. And that, if you like, sort of a foundational text. I mean, do you agree you were a fan of the Franco-Prussian War, Michael Howard’s book?
Spencer Jones [00:12:46] I am. In fact, it’s it’s one of I think it’s my favourite single volume on the Franco-Prussian War. Even that and I know there’s been a number of books and series and so forth produced by it. I completely agree. I certainly think about this recently about the the Victorian military history which emerges with the that I can never remember the chap Stamey wrote it, but the 15 decisive battles of the world. Chris Christie.
Gary Sheffield [00:13:11] I read what Chrissie told.
Spencer Jones [00:13:12] Chrissie and his 15 Sides of the World published in the 1850s, I think, which sets the sort of tone for Victorian military history, which has a huge influence, of course, on British writing about military history right up until the 1950s. Even you can see Chris’s legacy, even in the the official history of the First World War, for example, and beyond. And it’s not until the Second World War, after two enormous conflicts, first and Second World War, that the modern, disciplined military issue that we work with is now. Until then, it was very much you made reference to the sort of drums and trumpets and bayonets and tanks and and bombs school of history. And that was very much the Victorian military history, a view in which that the common soldier is just a sort of massive doesn’t really have any opinions. It’s all about great generals and defined coverage and this sort of thing. And of course that’s that’s now to a much richer field.
Gary Sheffield [00:14:07] Sure. I mean, I mean, to caveat, I guess we ought to say, of course there are exceptions. So, for example, the work of Cyril Fools, who was one of the British official historians of the First World War and was actually writing into the 1960s, if not the 1970s. He’s actually a much more modern. Time. And of course, on the naval side, you’ve got to seduce. In Corbett writing 100 good years ago, actually, some very, very sophisticated naval history. Strategic history. But as a general rule of thumb, most military history books work drum and trumpet and generals and battles and all the rest of it. Now, if I can actually sort of put this in some sort of personal context. I started my academic career a very long time ago in 1985 as the most junior form of human life in the war studies department of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. And that actually was a really interesting juxtaposition of of an older school of history and a more modern one, because the two big beasts in the War Studies department when I joined were David Chandler, whose classic book, The Campaigns of Napoleon. Unfair to say simply, you know, Drummond to trumpet history. But that undoubtedly was the the main thrust of it. And John Keegan, who wrote the classic book The Face of Battle, which is very much a sort of bottom up view of of of combat on tobacco. No, actually, we discussed this face of battle in some detail in a later episode, so I won’t say too much about it now, except to say that these were two very, very different views. And it must be said. It serves to two different schools of thought, which did not always gel terribly well. And. What I remember. I went to a conference a few years ago, but more than a few years ago, and that one speaker referred to the key organisation of military history. And actually, I think military history has been thoroughly carbonised. There are actually fewer and fewer studies of the sort of campaigns Napoleon sought, which actually is is a shame because tactical operational strategic history of that sort does actually have a place, although today it’s generally people who write those sorts of books do make a real effort to put it into the broad, broader context. So actually what I’m arguing for is we really do need a a genuinely broad church when it comes to military history. If you want to know, you know, the right of March of more troops to the Danube in 1704. There’s a place for that alongside the big issues of economics and social history, history and so on. So we might even say we’ve slightly overcorrected in terms of the way military history is going.
Spencer Jones [00:17:15] Mm hmm. I just add as well, I agree with that completely. And I’d like to make a comment do with the sort of that older form of history that I drew from my friend and in some ways a mentor, the late, great Paddy Griffith that we’ll be discussing later in the series, too. And he said that whatever it’s it’s it’s potential force, but it’s already built of Victorian military history. Yes, it’s a little narrow. Yes, it’s it can be a little myopic. He said it’s written with a passion and a sort of scale that is as often lost in modern military history where we tend to drill down right into the micro. And he once said something to me that’s always stuck with me. He said, In war, you find all human passions. It’s perhaps the most intensely emotional event humans can go through. It’s got love, tragedy, horror, pain, hope, sacrifice, courage, everything. And he said that kind of event. Why wouldn’t it demands emotional writing and passionate writing. And he said that that was something the Victorians understood. And indeed, right up until a lot of the post-Cold War era, it’s well understood. But that academic historian sometimes forgets and put it another phrase. Friend and mutual colleague Stephen Bardsley once said that military history is not better just because it’s dull. I think that’s an important message to to remember. And I hope in our podcast we’ll show how interesting and exciting military history actually can be.
Gary Sheffield [00:18:40] Well, that’s absolutely right. And that’s that’s brings me on to something else. Was going to mention that, though. Both of us are academic historians with university posts, PhDs and the scars to prove it. We both are really committed to what I think is rather pompously called public history. It really means just going out there and telling our stories and getting our books in front of a wide audience. People tend to write more and more about less and less in military history and end up speaking to about six other people who will read their article in some obscure journal. And both of us in different ways have actually broken out of that and gone out. And we both regularly speak to non-specialist audiences. We both write books which we want people to read and actually bookshops to sell, maybe even make a few pennies out of it. And I think that’s so incredibly important because otherwise, actually, if academics end up talking to themselves, it becomes a really quite a futile abuse, futile occupation. So something that we hope that our listeners will get from this podcast is we are really, really keen on getting our staff and stuff that we think is important out there. So, so we will be doing actually is talking to various historians who probably won’t be very familiar to most of the listeners, but have really important, interesting things to say.
Spencer Jones [00:20:13] Fallujah. I couldn’t agree more. And that’s, I think, one of the joys kind of military history that there is so much out there. And for those listeners who I assume are all interested in military history, if you’re not, you soon will be. This is an opportunity to hear some of the most cutting edge research and just see how interesting it is. And that research does eventually filter into more popular works, but it’s great to hear it from the source. And some of the books that are written by academic historians are actually brilliant. They are brilliant reads as well. They’re not, you know, off putting a complex or anything like that. They’re really interesting dive into certain aspects and we’ll be talking about some of that in the course, the podcast.
Gary Sheffield [00:20:55] Right now there’s an elephant in the room, which we have not yet mentioned, that is in some academic circles. If you say you are a military historian, it’s like you’ve admitted to some appalling criminal offence. Military history has been and in some cases still is very unfashionable. Stroke dislike, even hated. By some blessed by some people, by some academics. Now I find it utterly bizarre. But I think it’s worth sort of teasing out the reasons why we have these this reputation problem in some areas. I guess the first thing is the association of Military History with the military as in the armed forces. And I do think that that’s not that that’s fair. That’s still this stigma attached.
Spencer Jones [00:21:50] I absolutely do. I think that. Within wider academic circles. Sometimes you can see the absolute worst of school ground politics within academia. Not not always, of course, but there is a an element spot and reminded of Henry Kissinger’s great quote that the arguments in academia are so intense because the stakes are so small. But then this some sometimes military history is definitely the Cinderella of history in general. And certainly I’ve encountered personal prejudice against that type of military history. There’s a lingering suspicion that we teach people how to kill civilians and, you know, napalm villages and Cairo, war crimes and so on. A very prominent historian of the British Empire once described anybody who works with the British military as a weaponized historian, of which I actually think he’s quite indicative of a wider perception of military history within the academy.
Gary Sheffield [00:22:46] Yeah. So there’s this view that all military historians must be incredibly right wing now. This is not a political podcast, and if anybody’s interested in my views, you can follow me on Twitter where I bang on about politics to an alarming degree. Put it this way I’m not very right wing. In fact, I don’t know very many military historians who all I mean, obviously are some people who are right of centre rather than left of centre, but it’s not a common trait in military service, I don’t think.
Spencer Jones [00:23:21] Certainly not. And just thinking about the many dozens of military historians who I know and admire and respect. Yes. You know, there’s a whole different stance of the political spectrum, as you’d say, but I don’t know a single one who I’d describe as conservative with a big C and whether that’s and in terms of warmongers as well, I’ve never met a military historian who thinks that wars is a great idea, that no one studies war. I think more one can be one understands the horrors, the hardships, the setbacks of it. And I know many military stories promotes wars in that sense. But on the other hand, to ignore war or pretend that it’s to say that’s distasteful so we won’t study it is to ignore what a huge facet of human history which spans the entirety of human history right back to the dawn of civilisation and perhaps even beyond. It ignores that. And also, of course, it ignores the fact that war is a very, very real problem in our current lifetimes. And therefore the more one understands that, the more one is prepared to deal with it.
Gary Sheffield [00:24:26] And we’ve both worked for the British military in one way or another, and I guess that’s another aspect of the criticism that you are somehow tools of the of the military establishment. All I can say is, well, firstly, on a practical level, that the fact that military colleges exist in Britain actually provides jobs for military historians who otherwise would not be in the in the profession at all. And secondly, well, I have actually I mean, I’m not for one moment going to apologise for everything the British armed forces have ever done. My experience actually is that the military accept and like academic input and academics actually do have, I think, a positive influence, not just in terms of history, but in terms of ethics, law, morality and all the rest of it. And I hate to say that we’re a civilising influence, but actually intelligent officers and the vast majority of them all very intelligence, intelligent, realise that actually academics and sometimes even people, if you like, playing devil’s advocate in the military system is a positively good thing. And ultimately, I mean an argument for another time, I guess, about whether the existence of armed forces is a good idea. But my reading of history is, if you like, armed force, if you like credible armed forces in a a liberal democracy, you are likely to be in really deep trouble. So actually, you know, the whole idea, the idea that, you know, working for the British or indeed the American or whatever other military somehow delegitimizes you as a historian, I think is just utterly flawed. I suspect we’re still a bit of a hangover from Vietnam. However, a war which many liberals, I guess, you know, I was kid at the time, but, you know, had I been an adult then, I suspect I would have opposed the Vietnam War. Yeah. I mean, the way it was was was was fought anyway. And that Vietnam War syndrome hanging over military history, which did I think caused it to be pushed into onto the market, was the academic margins that it hasn’t entirely gone away.
Spencer Jones [00:26:43] Mm hmm. I completely agree with with all those comments just on the comment about Vietnam as a hangover, I think there’s also a lesson there about they. The importance of historians working with. The military and with policy makers. And I referenced that because I’ve recently been reading H.R. McMaster is really interesting book, Dereliction of Duty, which is about Robert McNamara in the Vietnam War. But Master makes the case that McNamara deliberately rejected outside advice from former soldiers or experts, military experts in general, because he believed the technology that advanced so fast by the time of the Vietnam War that any past advice that drew on the lessons of the Second World War or beyond was actually out of date. But Master makes a very strong case that that McNamara was was so blinded by his own love of technological solutions that it contributed to the disaster that was Vietnam. So a solitary lesson there for the importance of outside advice. And on the hangover from Vietnam, This, of course, was was huge in the academy. And it was still felt when I became a student. And then certainly for my generation, a big influence was the great War on terror, a particularly the Iraq invasion of probably Iraq, no more so than Afghanistan. And that still hangs over military history. I can remember I was getting my Ph.D. while the Iraq war was was still raging. It was in its late later stages, and I’d have various comments from people about, oh, well, they’re going to you know, they’re going to send you to Iraq and this sort of thing. And there was a real cynicism towards military policy and things like that. So but that doesn’t mean just the existence of these wars that obviously did not go the way of America and Western democracies, not mired, of course, deep onshore controversy about was taken as a reason for abandoning the study of military history entirely. In fact, if anything, they should encourage the study of military history so that these these disastrous expeditions don’t occur again. No, I actually agree.
Gary Sheffield [00:28:48] So I found very heartening. As recently I took a staff ride, which is basically it’s a sort of military form of a battlefield tour of a group of. Royal Air Force officers to France. And among the things we studied was actually very little to do with with air power. We looked at the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Why? Because of the human dimension. The importance of always keeping the ordinary soldier, stroke, sailor, stroke, airmen in sight. And the way that this actually falls into this bigger picture. What I was really quite heartened that they wanted to go out and study the realities of war, you know, the really grim nature of war. In part to remind. The practitioners serving practitioners we took away. This is what war is really about. It’s not simply big lines on small maps or. I don’t know, honestly, dropping bombs or anything like that. Okay. I think we sort of start to wind it up now. I think would be worth, in conclusion to say something about the inverted commas, new types of history which have influenced us as historians. Now I should, if I kick off to say that. I started actually not really as a operational generals Battles historian, but actually as a as a social historian of the British army, particularly in the First World War. And. I know quite embarrassed about this in some ways, but I did my Ph.D. looking at the role, basically junior leaders in the British Army on the Western Front, particularly in the First World War. Up past it got the picture, the rest of it. I then published the Book of the State, which came out in 2000, so 23 years ago, and that was favourably reviewed and all the rest of it. And the one thing I didn’t talk about at all in the entire project was masculinity. In other words, what did it mean to be a man with all of that implied in the era of the First World War? Now, in recent years there’s been a lot of studies of gender and masculinity and so on. And I get this I suspect this might have a sort of, you know, might call some more traditional military history types to turn off. Actually, it’s really, really interesting because if you go back to look up the stuff I was looking at, soldiers are being told it’s manly to fight, it’s unmanly to shirk and all the rest of it. And I just missed all of this stuff out. No, I don’t. I miss it out. None of the distinguished professors who supervised my thesis, who examined my thesis, who read the manuscript of the book, they picked up on it either because it simply wasn’t a thing 20, 25 years ago. Now it very much is. And we’re all actually, I think, engaging with this sort of stuff now. So it’s not a criticism of people I’m talking about. It’s just the way in which a new style of history, new thoughts about history can really enrich the way that we study war.
Spencer Jones [00:32:10] I completely agree. And just on my my own perspective. So I started out really as a as a historian of tactics, and my Ph.D. was basically on task for reforming the British army after the Boer War. And from that I came into not exactly ideas of masculinity, but but ideas of. Courage, which is linked to masculinity, but the perception of courage because for the first time in the Boer War, British troops surrendered in large numbers. Other reasons was, say, the first and the first time in the recent Victorian experience they surrendered in large numbers. There were reasons for that, not least the fact you can’t surrender to a lot of Britain’s imperial enemies. In the 1800s, the Zulus in the modest don’t take prisoners and the British don’t take them prisoner either. But in the Boer War, pushed for a European style enemy, there’s a lot of prisoners taken, and it creates this convulsion in Britain about why that why are our troops surrounding? This isn’t what’s normal. And that led me into various sort of avenues. Not during the day, I have to stress, but but afterwards, about a tour of sections of courage, which in turn leads to victory, perceptions of masculinity, which are a lot more complex than I think people commonly think. We tend to just think stiff upper lip and big moustaches and mutton chops, but in fact, Victorian masculinity, very interesting, very subtle. There’s a lot more to it, but just just the sheer and of course I did my PhD without wanting to make it sound like we’re completely ancient, you know, some decades after you. It was only afterwards that I sort of difference of masculinity and it really enhanced my work. I thought, I’m extremely interesting still.
Gary Sheffield [00:33:53] Well, I’m completely ancient. I’m a grandfather now, so I put my hands up. I also you actually touch on something which I suspect will be an important topic for a later podcast in another series, the whole question of empire and colonialism. Recent political currents and historical currents mean we cannot simply look at British imperial wars or anybody else’s imperial wars without being aware of this wider context. And so that is another way in which things have changed. I think the subject has been enriched for the better. A final point I’ll make is to say that what of the other in my particular field, one of the really important things in recent years is the coming together of different sorts of historians. So I. Started off as a historian of the First World War. And back in the eighties and nineties and even beyond that, there was this very much this deep division, almost trench warfare between military historians on one side and cultural historians on the other. You know, you would go to to a conference and there would be a paper on the First World War which wouldn’t make military history at all be about poetry. And you would go to another paper at the same conference, which wouldn’t mention the cultural side at all. Now, there was a sort of truce declared in about 2000, right, thereabouts, 90th anniversary of the first war, in truth. Historians have been growing up before that. And so now we’ve got a range of historians. I mean, off the top of my head, I can think of Dan Taubman and Mark Connelly, who are both at home with called Nuts and bolts military history and the wider social and political history and produce excellent work as a result. Mark, for example, did a book on this called Study The Boss, which was about the boss, the regiment which looked at not only things like battlefield performance and so on, but also the societies from which the soldiers were sort of really, that’s how it ought to be. There’s been a coming together of scholars and forms of scholarship, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because it’s obviously really good. It’s a bad thing, as in people like me have yet more stuff to read and yet more stuff to take on. No, it’s not. Not a bad thing, but it’s it’s made history richer, more complex, more challenging. But for the old thing, history is quite complex and difficult.
Spencer Jones [00:36:36] Absolutely. And to just say about the broadness of it, it makes our jobs more difficult because there’s so much more to read and so much more to study and learn. And it feeds back into our work. And I like to think that our work feeds into that as well. But it also makes it incredibly exciting for people like me. I’ve got a bit of a back, right? So I’ll land upon something that looks shiny and interesting in history I think are fascinating and start reading about it and studying it. I love to read really widely about this and see how it all influences things. And yeah, Mark Connolly’s words, my favourite, especially his work on films, on how film shapes the British view of war and so forth. And this just, you know, the richness in this field that, well, we just decided we had to start a podcast about it and talk about it in all its forms. And that, I think, is military history books.
Gary Sheffield [00:37:29] Absolutely. Well, on that note, a really good one to end. I’ll say good bye from me, Gary Sheffield.
Spencer Jones [00:37:36] And goodbye for me, Spencer Jones.