Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June is Here; Bad History Channel: The World Wars

Well, June has arrived, three days in. I meant to write sooner; I always mean to write sooner and more often but that damned thing called life gets in the way. This time it was a complex combination of events and non-events that conspired against me. The last two weeks I have been sick with a very nasty cold that all but sapped my energy. At the same time my laptop decided to die on me -- and I had to wait for both the funds and the energy to fix the problem. Fortunately, all I needed was a new power charger chord, a smaller expense than I had anticipated, and here I am back on line! The laptop itself remains outdated and unsupported, but for now it will do the job and I am used to it. I'm on Windows XP, by the way, in an 8.1 world. But that's okay, since I'm kind of an anachronism anyway, or becoming one. The main problem is that I have not been working on my writing for over two weeks, with a few major projects that I wanted to get done before now. That's just the way it is. I feel that my body and the ether combined to tell me to take a small vacation. Vacation over. I am still working on what I consider to be the most important project of my career so far, a volume of poems and prose, complete with biographical sketches, that commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of World War One, which began officially on August 1, 1914, when Germany declared war on Russia before Russia could declare war on Austria -- and then the nations of Europe entered into the conflict like dominoes. As I said, this may be my best work, and yet I fear that no one ever will read it. Still, I will forge ahead. I am on the final polish and hope now to see it on Kindle by June 28, the date in 1914 that Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip, which became the excuse for war. I also want this one to be available in print and plan a CreateSpace version ASAP. All the while, CharleeRose, our first granddaughter, is about to arrive and Chase, our California grandson, is due around August 1. Plus, the summer season is here in Lakeside, and there is more work to do. But, busy is good, very good. Speaking of the Great War, I want briefly to comment on the History Channel's six (well, 4.2) hour documentary mini-series, the World Wars. I watched them yesterday, sitting through their entirety despite continual disappointment. The program was told inside out, its material was incomplete and often inaccurate and misleading, making it a very poor excuse for history. Warning to anyone who thinks this program is a shortcut to understanding the thirty-one year period from 1914 through 1945: you will be totally and completely wrong. Time lines get jumbled in the back and forth telling with no assistance from the presenters, so that the sequence of events does not measure up. I offer just one example. The Galipoli campaign indeed was meant to take pressure off and give physical aid to the Russians. It took place in January 1915, and failed. The narration in the program immediately tells us that the Germans, in order to take advantage of their victory at Galipoli, brought Lenin into Russia so he would stage and win a revolution and take Russia out of the war altogether. This much is true: the Germans did bring Lenin to Russia, and Lenin did plot and plan a revolution. However, these events took place in 1917 -- a full two years after the Galipoli campaign and long after the Battles of the Somme and Verdun (which were not even mentioned). Besides, there was a democratic revolution in Russia in early 1917, but civil unrest over the continuing war effort led to Lenin and the Bolsheviks' successful revolution in October, 1917. At best, the program is a starting point for deeper looks into these crucial moments in human history. At its worst, it is an over-simplified and confusing presentation of selected events that trivializes and often ignores a vital, complicated and fascinating history. Careful examination of the facts as compared with the presentation will show that my example is just the tip of the iceberg. The most irritating thing for me is that the show will be seen as fact by many too many. But poetry is all but dead except among poets -- go figure.

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