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Max Hastings - An Unnecessary Opinion

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  • Message 1. 

    Posted by Prophet Tenebrae (U5995226) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    Is there any reason the BBC felt it necessary to give Daily Mail curmudgeon come historian a soapbox?

    Not one second of this documentary feels as if it is objective. It seems pretty obvious Maxie decided that the war was necessary and then rounded up the facts that agreed with him... and then for reasons beyond the ken of mortal men, the BBC paid him to make this documentary.

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  • Message 2

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    Posted by Bidie-In (U2747062) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    Hastings is a respected historian and writer, Prophet. Yes, he contributes some fluffy stuff to the DM - much ridiculed in Private Eye which has him enthusing about daffodils, picnics, ladybirds etc.

    Anyway, his programme is one side of the argument for/against WW1 and the UK's participation in it. The rebuttal is to be shown later.

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  • Message 3

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    Posted by oldmanriver (U14455170) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    It is one of two programmes and the two different presenters take opposite points of view on purpose.

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  • Message 4

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    Posted by tumteatum (U15488526) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    Isn't Niall Ferguson doing a rebuttal programme? Not sure when its on though.

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  • Message 5

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    Posted by Prophet Tenebrae (U5995226) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    Hastings is a respected historian and writer, Prophet. 
    And a knight of the realm... standards are certainly slipping, aren't they?

    Anyway, his programme is one side of the argument for/against WW1 and the UK's participation in it. The rebuttal is to be shown later. 
    That would explain it.

    I honestly didn't feel his case was compelling though, he wasn't really justifying it so much as "oh, how terrible things would have been if we didn't fight that war".

    You'd think that an allegedly respected historian would treat historical what ifs with the irreverence they deserve... but no, as they all (what are the chances of that happening?) supported Sir Max, I'm guessing they're all very relevant to his forgone conclusion.

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  • Message 6

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    Posted by Buttey (U14563284) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    Is there any reason the BBC felt it necessary to give Daily Mail curmudgeon come historian a soapbox?

    Not one second of this documentary feels as if it is objective. It seems pretty obvious Maxie decided that the war was necessary and then rounded up the facts that agreed with him... and then for reasons beyond the ken of mortal men, the BBC paid him to make this documentary. 
    Maybe Friday's offering will suit your tastes more. The BBC is presenting programmes with two contrasting points of view. Not sure that there's a problem with that approach.

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  • Message 7

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    Posted by Portly (U1381981) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    It is one of two programmes and the two different presenters take opposite points of view on purpose.  Yes Prof Niall Ferguson is to present a case that Britain should not have entered World War I. I respect him as an historian so I don't think he can really believe this.

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  • Message 8

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    Posted by shivfan (U2435266) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    Hastings is a respected historian and writer, Prophet. Yes, he contributes some fluffy stuff to the DM - much ridiculed in Private Eye which has him enthusing about daffodils, picnics, ladybirds etc.

    Anyway, his programme is one side of the argument for/against WW1 and the UK's participation in it. The rebuttal is to be shown later. 
    Hastings is not a respected historian by any stretch of the imagination ..

    He didn't study history at Oxford and it shows. This is just one-sided propaganda. I don't know why i wasted my time watching this drivel. I should have known that anyone incapable of completing more than one year of university is incapable of the kind of analysis needed to look at this subject.

    Hastings only qualifications seems to be that he went to private school and was the editor of a rag famous for rotting the brains of its readers. I an a history tutor and I will be advising my students to give this one a miss.

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  • Message 9

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    Posted by Oghma (U16013614) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    I've just watched the whole of this programme. Within 5 minutes it was obvious that there was no substantive content - the only way I could stick through the whole thing was to start to spot the logical fallacies.

    Max Hastings missed a couple.

    This was billed as a flagship programme for the BBC's commemoration of WWI. You really, really should be ashamed. Perhaps an academic historian would have contributed a more rigorous examination. Max Hasting's programme was smug, un-informative and, worst of all, jingoistic.

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  • Message 10

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    Posted by caissier (U14073060) ** on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    Max Hastings is very good on factual detail and depth of understanding. Mostly he keeps his view of history separate from comments about current affairs. His family history is quite interesting, imo, privileged, but he's of that time.

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  • Message 11

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    Posted by shivfan (U2435266) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    Never type a message in a phone...too many blasted errors.

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  • Message 12

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    Posted by tumteatum (U15488526) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    As a history graduate I find "I will be advising my students to give this a miss" a little odd.

    Surely, he is arguing a point of view. The question for your student's would be what are the strengths and weaknesses in his argument, his political position and motivations for his view.

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  • Message 13

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    Posted by caissier (U14073060) ** on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    "depth of understanding"

    Well, in a nuts and bolts way.

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  • Message 14

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    Posted by zencat (U14877400) ** on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    This is just one-sided propaganda. 
    I had to watch DIP on the other side, so I only caught the last minute, and he was trotting out the usual tripe about the German plans for world domination. Yawn.

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  • Message 15

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    Posted by shivfan (U2435266) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    I've just watched the whole of this programme. Within 5 minutes it was obvious that there was no substantive content - the only way I could stick through the whole thing was to start to spot the logical fallacies.

    Max Hastings missed a couple.

    This was billed as a flagship programme for the BBC's commemoration of WWI. You really, really should be ashamed. Perhaps an academic historian would have contributed a more rigorous examination. Max Hasting's programme was smug, un-informative and, worst of all, jingoistic. 
    Totally agree....

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  • Message 16

    , in reply to message 12.

    Posted by shivfan (U2435266) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    As a history graduate I find "I will be advising my students to give this a miss" a little odd.

    Surely, he is arguing a point of view. The question for your student's would be what are the strengths and weaknesses in his argument, his political position and motivations for his view. 
    There are far more intelligent books arguing the case fir war written by qualified historians. This misleading piece of drivel adds nothing to the student experience.

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  • Message 17

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    Posted by Johnnymol (U14690244) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    Max Hastings was the wrong choice for this sort of debate - The BBC should have got someone with some gravitas. Instead we got a Ben Fogle stand in with a B- in History.

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  • Message 18

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    Posted by Portly (U1381981) on Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    It would be interesting to see some criticism of the points made by Hastings in the programme, rather than unfocused personal attacks. smiley - smiley

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  • Message 19

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    Posted by meddaboy (U15031418) ** on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    iwas watching something not that long ago,based round queen victorias family,where in it , the kaiser was quoted as saying he had no real say over his generals,which contradicts what max is saying here.

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  • Message 20

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    Posted by Pancho Wilkins (U1158194) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Hastings is a respected historian and writer, Prophet. Yes, he contributes some fluffy stuff to the DM - much ridiculed in Private Eye which has him enthusing about daffodils, picnics, ladybirds etc.

    Anyway, his programme is one side of the argument for/against WW1 and the UK's participation in it. The rebuttal is to be shown later. 
    Hastings is not a respected historian by any stretch of the imagination ..

    He didn't study history at Oxford and it shows. This is just one-sided propaganda. I don't know why i wasted my time watching this drivel. I should have known that anyone incapable of completing more than one year of university is incapable of the kind of analysis needed to look at this subject.

    Hastings only qualifications seems to be that he went to private school and was the editor of a rag famous for rotting the brains of its readers. I an a history tutor and I will be advising my students to give this one a miss. 

    Not being a history student/tutor/ nor historian I am interested in your comment "He didn't study history at Oxford, and it shows"

    In what way is studying history at Oxford superior to studying history at other leading universities, or indeed other schools?

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  • Message 21

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    Posted by Bidie-In (U2747062) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Hastings is a respected historian and writer, Prophet. Yes, he contributes some fluffy stuff to the DM - much ridiculed in Private Eye which has him enthusing about daffodils, picnics, ladybirds etc.

    Anyway, his programme is one side of the argument for/against WW1 and the UK's participation in it. The rebuttal is to be shown later. 
    Hastings is not a respected historian by any stretch of the imagination ..

    He didn't study history at Oxford and it shows. This is just one-sided propaganda. I don't know why i wasted my time watching this drivel. I should have known that anyone incapable of completing more than one year of university is incapable of the kind of analysis needed to look at this subject.

    Hastings only qualifications seems to be that he went to private school and was the editor of a rag famous for rotting the brains of its readers. I an a history tutor and I will be advising my students to give this one a miss. 

    Not being a history student/tutor/ nor historian I am interested in your comment "He didn't study history at Oxford, and it shows"

    In what way is studying history at Oxford superior to studying history at other leading universities, or indeed other schools? 
    THANK YOU, Pancho. smiley - hug

    I also found that comment distasteful - unless the writer means that Hastings was lazy at University.

    My brother has an MA in History from Edinburgh Uni and a Phd from York. Not good enough for this poster, it seems......

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  • Message 22

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    Posted by MrsSilly (U1487391) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Does that mean you only teach/advise history that you agree with?

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  • Message 23

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    Posted by hollybeau (U13700692) ** on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Maybe this programme wasn't aimed at those who already have an indepth knowledge of the war, I certainly hadn't and found it very interesting.My OH disagreed with Max Hastings but didn't watch the programme, probably because he knew he'd disagree anyway.I look forward to watching the opposite opinion with an open mind and will give my thoughts then.

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  • Message 24

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    Posted by alan997 (U1233723) ** on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    I found it quite interesting, though I could hardly be further removed from Hastings in politics or perspectives.

    It was his take on the causes of the war; there will by all accounts be a counter-argument in due course. I find this basic idea of allowing different historians to present their take on an event a healthy one - as a rule, we're fed a story as tho' it were The Story...I positively welcome the overt acknowledgement that any historian's take is just that - his/her take, not the truth, the whole truth etc.

    And speaking from a position of abject ignorance, I for one found his argument, for the time being, pretty persuasive. The British Empire was no paragon of virtue, but I suspect that life in a Europe utterly dominated by a monarchist/militarist dictatorship would indeed have been extremely unpleasant for most of its citizens - positively hellish for Slavs and others the Kaiser considered untermenschen.

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  • Message 25

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    Posted by Juvia says goodbye (U15993513) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    He didn't study history at Oxford and it shows. This is just one-sided propaganda. I don't know why i wasted my time watching this drivel. I should have known that anyone incapable of completing more than one year of university is incapable of the kind of analysis needed to look at this subject. 
    The Royal Historical Society disagree with your analysis. He is a Fellow of that august institution.

    Fellows are required to have, erll see the requirements at the link under "Applying for Election to the Fellowship":

    www.royalhistoricals...

    So his qualifications are sufficient.

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  • Message 26

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    Posted by Portly (U1381981) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    My OH disagreed with Max Hastings  

    There have been many epithets chucked around in this thread, including "drivel," but I still haven't read any specific challenges to what Hastings said in the programme.

    Except for shivfan, who has apparently been teaching his/her students that Germany wasn't responsible for World War I. This helps to explain why so many youngsters grow up with a warped conception of British history.

    Hastings explained that following events in Sarajevo, the war could have been confined to the Balkans, had it not been for Germany being wildly over-ambitious and adopting the Schlieffen Plan to invade France via Belgium.

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  • Message 27

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    Posted by zencat (U14877400) ** on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Although I didn't see the programme, I have read the blurb, and one of the problems seems to be that Hastings is using a scatter-gun approach to the subject. In discussing whether it was a necessary war, at what point do you begin? Not where he does, IMO. A little local difficulty in the Austro-Hungarian Empire escalated into a massive conflict resulting in millions of deaths - unnecessarily.

    So no, not a necessary war.

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  • Message 28

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    Posted by alan997 (U1233723) ** on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Although I didn't see the programme, I have read the blurb, and one of the problems seems to be that Hastings is using a scatter-gun approach to the subject. In discussing whether it was a necessary war, at what point do you begin? Not where he does, IMO. A little local difficulty in the Austro-Hungarian Empire escalated into a massive conflict resulting in millions of deaths - unnecessarily.

    So no, not a necessary war. 
    I think by 'a necessary war', he meant, specifically, a necessary war for 'us' - ie, the British - to get involved in. This being a counter to the - he suggested - commonly-held belief that while we were 'right to fight' against Hitler, WW1 was far less clear cut, and there's a case for saying we should have kept well out and let all those quarrelsome continentals sort it out between themselves.

    His point being (given that basic perspective): yes, it was necessary (for us to throw our weight against Germany); had we not done so, they probably would have won, and the consequences, both for Europe and for Britain, would have been catastrophic.

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  • Message 29

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    Posted by Portly (U1381981) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    So no, not a necessary war.  

    Hastings' argument was that it became necessary for Britain to become involved when German troops poured through Belgium.

    It was certainly "unnecessary" for the Germans to do that, if the only objective had to been to sort out Serbia.

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  • Message 30

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    Posted by SATM67 (U14061947) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    He didn't study history at Oxford and it shows. This is just one-sided propaganda. I don't know why i wasted my time watching this drivel. I should have known that anyone incapable of completing more than one year of university is incapable of the kind of analysis needed to look at this subject. 
    The Royal Historical Society disagree with your analysis. He is a Fellow of that august institution.

    Fellows are required to have, erll see the requirements at the link under "Applying for Election to the Fellowship":

    www.royalhistoricals...

    So his qualifications are sufficient. 
    His Bibliography, which commenced in1968 at the age of 23, and the prizes, and awards he has won, speak for themselves.

    His most recent publication, ' Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes To War', has been favourably reviewed.

    The Royal United Services Institute in 2010 presented him with an award for his lifelong contribution to military literature.

    Then there is his record as a Foreign Correspondent including being the first journalist to enter liberated Port Stanley during The Falklands War.

    All ignored on the basis that he did not complete his University Degree Course.

    This is The Telegraph review of last night's programme.

    www.telegraph.co.uk/...

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  • Message 31

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    Posted by PaulHammond (U5000908) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Thanks for the pointer, SATM67.

    A well written review, but I now feel like I've read spoilers for Friday's programme, since it seems the Telegraph reviewer has already seen an advance copy of Ferguson's Friday broadcast!

    Surely this review should have been published AFTER both programmes had been shown?

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  • Message 32

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    Posted by Dee (U15846799) ** on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Not one second of this documentary feels as if it is objective. It seems pretty obvious Maxie decided that the war was necessary and then rounded up the facts that agreed with him. 

    The programme was an essay - he was making an argument and using facts and his interpretations of the facts to support that argument.

    There was no attempt to pretend that he was being "objective", he was giving a perspective.

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  • Message 33

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    Posted by PaulHammond (U5000908) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    It seems pretty obvious Maxie decided that the war was necessary and then rounded up the facts that agreed with him... 

    Yeah, pretty obvious - that was the brief of the programme, was it not?

    You, Mr Hastings, are going to make a programme arguing the case that despite the terrible sacrifice, it was necessary for Britain to go to war with Germany in 1914.

    And to my mind he delivered an interesting programme making that case - clearly he hasn't given a platform to people who disagree with his conclusions in this programme - but that was the point, wasn't it?

    I agree with others I've seen (not necessarily on this thread) that actually it's a refreshing thing to see documentaries that DO make a particular case rather than pretending that every history programme made is being scrupulously even handed and is "simply" telling us "the Truth".

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  • Message 34

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    Posted by Portly (U1381981) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    This idea of having two speakers making opposing cases is hardly new, is it? It's the way university debating societies work. Very often the speakers do not agree with the case they are asked to make, but go ahead with it as an exercise in oratory.

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  • Message 35

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    Posted by MrT (U15054385) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Britain had a treaty obligation to protect the neutrality of Belgium (as did Germany). So it would have been dishonourable not to enter the war. And if Germany had been victorious on the continent we would have had to fight them sooner or later when they were in a stronger position (or so the argument goes).

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  • Message 36

    , in reply to message 18.

    Posted by heterodox (U14291406) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    'It would be interesting to see some criticism of the points made by Hastings in the programme, rather than unfocused personal attacks'

    Precisely.
    It's quite unacceptable to attack another's opinion without putting forward alternatives.
    History is an art not a science and there is room for a wide range of views and none of them will be provably right or wrong. I followed Hasting's points closely and I thought he presented his side of the argument well and he needed to if he was going to justify the loss of 10 million dead.
    His main point, I thought, was that ,if fighting Germany was inevitable, then it was better done while we had undefeated allies to help.
    I look forward to hearing Ferguson's point of view.

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  • Message 37

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    Posted by MrT (U15054385) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Well put. When the war began no-one imagined how costly it would prove to be in terms of human life.

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  • Message 38

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    Posted by SATM67 (U14061947) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    I look forward to hearing Ferguson's point of view. 

    It will be followed by a 30 minutes debate.

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  • Message 39

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    Posted by Turner (U14992668) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    I was looking forward to this two-parter, but when I learned they were presented by Max Hatings and Neil Ferguson I decide against - I can't stand either, I find them both too biased to be capable of objective historic analysis.

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  • Message 40

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    Posted by Turner (U14992668) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Ooops... that should have been *Niall* Ferguson and Max *Hastings*.
    The latter at least was a Freudian slip smiley - winkeye

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  • Message 41

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    Posted by Oldnathan (U1633941) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Turning up at your great uncle’s graveside for the first time ever to take issue with a comedy programme made 25 years ago regarding ‘arguments’ the writers never actually made wasn’t a great start.

    I’m sick of the so called ‘Blackadder take on the war’ argument. Most comedy has to point at an underlying current of ‘truth’ or it isn’t funny but the writers never portrayed it as an unjust war or implied that Britain was wrong to get involved. The point being made was that the methods under which the war was waged were futile and horrific. That is unarguable surely? The tactical deployment of men simply hadn’t caught up with the technological improvements in weapons and it was mass slaughter for 4 years until we got tanks and Americans involved (something he glossed over).

    Once you accept that and acknowledge, as Hasting did, that great many of the generals were incompetent it seems to me that Gove, Hastings and Blackadder are on exactly the same page.

    And pinning the blame on Germany argument would have carried a little more weight if he had at least acknowledged that there was a ‘Crowned Heads of Europe’ family squabble at the heart of it.

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  • Message 42

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    Posted by Drsdaughter (U12521046) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    I have seen the trailers for this "discussion". I have an abhorrence of violence and of blind obediance. Two of my relatives were objectors during the Second World War and the remains of my only Great Uncle who died during the First World War have not been found . It saddens me to think that Britain tried to free Europe from tyranny in the past only for weak ,servile politicians of the present day to give in to dictatorship fromBrussels and Berlin. When the truth about the EU does come out ,it will be too late.

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  • Message 43

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    Posted by MrT (U15054385) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    I agree that there can be few who regard Blackadder as historical truth. It was a comic parody.

    Futile methods? The only way to win was to throw men and artillery at the problem - we had more of both once the US entered the war.

    I'm not sure WW1 tanks made a great deal of difference - they tended to get bogged down in no-mans land.

    Therw was a suggestion in a recent programme that the King told the German ambassador that Britain wouldn't enter the war perhaps encouraging the Germans to invade Belgium. Is this true?

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  • Message 44

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    Posted by bugsy60 (U14684939) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    I agree that there can be few who regard Blackadder as historical truth. It was a comic parody.

    Futile methods? The only way to win was to throw men and artillery at the problem - we had more of both once the US entered the war.

    I'm not sure WW1 tanks made a great deal of difference - they tended to get bogged down in no-mans land.

    Therw was a suggestion in a recent programme that the King told the German ambassador that Britain wouldn't enter the war perhaps encouraging the Germans to invade Belgium. Is this true? 
    Good post. Just finished reading The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark, real in-depth stuff. May I suggest you give it a try. Found the programme ridiculously biased and the presentation style like the Raj, but did not know second programme to come, might give it a chance !

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  • Message 45

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    Posted by caissier (U14073060) ** on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    We seem to be getting a bewildering hotch-potch of WW1 programmes which must involve a lot of over-lapping, many seen around the back of presenters with Personal Views. Paxman, Hastings ..... to come - Neil Oliver, Naill Ferguson, Kate Adie ..... D Dimbley, A Marr, Clarkson as well? .... it's not even August yet. There's the feeling of the BBC's current frantic obsession with impartiality and balance and, when in doubt, go for overkill. WW1 fatigue looming?

    I caught some of the Huw Strachan documentary last night which looked very good but that was made in 2002. Get ready for the Michael Redgrave 1964 series.

    On whether Germany was a threat justifying the war, I remember my economics school-teacher suggesting, during a discussion about the reunification of Germany, that the Greater Germany created by Bismarck was, not necessarily aggressive but just too big for Europe. Was the Kaiser that influential? Up to a point .... ? He dropped Bismarck, didn't he?

    We had the documentary about the royal cousins which was good but imo rather too fenced off. Some exploration of Germany in the early C19th, the famous Schleswig-Holstein Question, and its unification would be good as well as of German character, if that can be defined. (German people seem to be unnaturally anxious to do the washing up after meals.) There probably can be observations on the national psychology of Germany. Who on the BBC books 'does' psychology? There was an excellent In Our Time a few years ago on the affinities between this country and Germany.

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  • Message 46

    , in reply to message 32.

    Posted by Oghma (U16013614) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Not one second of this documentary feels as if it is objective. It seems pretty obvious Maxie decided that the war was necessary and then rounded up the facts that agreed with him. 

    The programme was an essay - he was making an argument and using facts and his interpretations of the facts to support that argument.

    There was no attempt to pretend that he was being "objective", he was giving a perspective. 
    The programme was an exercise in the worst sort of journalism. It contained very little fact, just lots of touchy-feely stuff to give an impression of Germany as the "bad-guys".

    Is critical thinking dead? It certainly seems to have been abandoned in meedja circles.

    Painting the Kaiser as a silly, nasty man with a bad temper is not a very helpful insight to 1910's European history - it is merely an Ad Hominem (www.nizkor.org/featu... attack to create an impression rather than an attempt to present a coherent argument.

    Describing one of the problems with the 1914 German political system as being having powerful parliament with a Kaiser who jealously guarded his right to command the army and decide on declarations of war was irony raised to the standard of the ridiculous.

    Assigning all the blame to the "nasty" Germans for not stopping Austria invading Serbia while declining to castigate Russia's support of a belligerent Serbia borders on the ludicrous.

    Ignoring any of the events preceding and surrounding the assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand is either laziness in the extreme or a deliberate ploy to totally exonerate all the non-German players of Kipling's Great Game.

    The Balkans were in turmoil in the late 19th / early 20th century because of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and conflicting views from Russia, Austria/Hungary and Britain as to how the resulting vacuum should or could be filled.

    Instead, Max Hasting choose to play on emotional and nationalistic themes to support his (possibly honestly held) beliefs that Britain was the blameless saint riding to rescue the incompetent European states from the dastardly Germans.

    Possibly a good article for a Red Top. For a journalist's article for a paper of record it was poor. As a Historical documentary on what used to be the nations most respected broadcaster it was very poor. As any part of the commemoration of a war that killed 37 million people it was abysmal.

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  • Message 47

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    Posted by MrT (U15054385) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Thank you Bugsy.

    Regarding so many WW1 programmes now I was a little annoyed at first as it is not yet August. Then I thought I would much rather watch these programmes now when the weather is bad rather than in the middle of the summer holidays when the weather may possibly be better...

    I would enjoy a dramatic reconstruction of the month leading up to war (Grey's speech in the Commons etc). I thimk there is something coming up.

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  • Message 48

    , in reply to message 46.

    Posted by Portly (U1381981) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Assigning all the blame to the "nasty" Germans for not stopping Austria invading Serbia while declining to castigate Russia's support of a belligerent Serbia borders on the ludicrous.  

    I don't remember Hastings saying that. What he did say was that Germany's decision to address a problem in the Balkans by invading France was ruinously over-ambitious. It made the conflict into a European war instead of a localised skirmish further south.

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    Posted by shivfan (U2435266) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    Well said, Oghma....
    smiley - ok
    In addition, Hastings engaged in a lot of pointless "What if" exercises....

    What if Britain didn't enter the War...then Germany would overrun all of Europe, and become a Nazi-like superpower. That is arrogance to the extreme, and there's no way he could prove this would have happened. Britain could easily have stayed out of the war, and did what America did - fund the French resistance. They were doing fine, beating the Germans at the First Battle of Marne in 1914, and pushing the Germans back, before we even got involved. So, it's by no means certain that Germany would've overrun Western Europe if Britain didn't get involved....

    The British weren't fighting in the Balkans, and the Germans didn't overrun Serbia. Oh yes, Austria-Hungary were fighting that front, and losing battles to Serbia, though you'd never know that front existed, if you relied solely on Hastings' programme for information about WWI. And what about the Italians? Weren't they fighting on the side of the French in the First World War too? What did Hastings say about the Italian front? Nothing....

    Hastings makes assumptions which he is no position to make, and he tells us to take them as fact....

    Instead, he expresses fears that Germany would challenge the British empire if we didn't get involved...as if the British empire is a symbol we should cherish.

    On the contrary, the First World War was probably good for all those people oppressed by the British around the world. WWI bankrupted Britain, and meant they could no longer maintain an empire in the long run, and had to grant most of its colonies independence. And that, Max, is one of the few reasons why Britain's self-destructive involvement in WWI might be seen as a good thing....

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    Posted by MrT (U15054385) on Wednesday, 26th February 2014

    WWI bankrupted Britain, and meant they could no longer maintain an empire in the long run, and had to grant most of its colonies independence. And that, Max, is one of the few reasons why Britain's self-destructive involvement in WWI might be seen as a good thing....  I thought that was WW2...

    The focus of Hastings' programme was on the Western Front and whether Britain was inevitably dragged in. I don't think France stood a chance on its own. It was touch and go with the resources of the entire British Empire. It was US involvement that made the outcome inevitable.

    I'll be interested in what Mr Ferguson has to say though he can sometimes be rather glib.

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