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Dear BGO Members, I write to draw your attention to my eBook, ‘The Evidence of Our Senses’: Language, Belief and Britain’s Great War. The book is the product of a student of English literature whose interest, in postgraduate years, turned more specifically to history and the relationships between language, patterns of thought and decision-making. The book examines the confection of a British sense of national identity during the second half of the nineteenth century and relates this to the illogicality and irrationality of the British decision to intervene in the European war that broke out in 1914. It examines the language of English poetry of the war, avoiding the sterile labels of ‘pro-‘ and ‘anti-‘ war verse. It gives the most thorough account to date of Siegfried Sassoon’s 1917 protest against the war’s continuation, demonstrating that the incoherence of that protest is attributable to the incoherence of the war itself (i.e. there was nothing identifiable against which to protest). It reviews British military conduct of the war, demonstrating that the shortcomings of senior British commanders are attributable to their subscription to the meretricious value-system confected in the nineteenth century. It reviews the Treaty of Versailles, confirming both that the Treaty was an improvisation and that the tenets of economic orthodoxy are fundamentally incompatible with a world-view that accepts the possibility of war. It reviews the factitious ‘war-books’ controversy of 1930 and indicates that latter-day attempts to attribute negative British perceptions of the First World War to the influence of a handful of literary works are recrudescences of the mind-set that created the war itself. In this sense, the book is an allegory of the contemporary Zeitgeist. An earlier version of Chapter One appeared as, ‘Confecting a British Identity’, in The New Nationalism and the First World War, ed. Lawrence Rosenthal and Vesna Rodic (Basingstoke and New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 19-46. An earlier version of Chapter Three was delivered as the paper, ‘Gesture and experience in “patriotic” and “anti-war” poetry’, at the English Association Conference, ‘British Poetry of the First World War’, at Wadham College, Oxford in September 2014. An earlier version of Chapter Seven appeared as, ‘Fiction and Memoir of Britain’s Great War: disillusioned or disparate?’, in the European Review of History: Revue européenne d’histoire, 22:5, 791-813. In an age of ‘fake news’ and labyrinthine relativism, I believe my book is extremely important. At the very least, it could start a discussion about the nature of truth and how we are to establish it. I think that is a discussion we need to have. I hope I have not committed a solecism by advertising my work here. Of course, I hope that people will be interested in my book, but I understand that advertisements can be irritating! Kindest regards, Rod Beecham
"So They May Stand Alone" Training Iraqi Security Forces in 2005 by Magnus Edward Being in Iraq is like being on another planet. Everyone that has been there has a story to tell. This story is a brief window into but one perspective of what Iraq was really like during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Training a foreign people to fight in their own country is an odd task that brings about strange events. Americans and Iraqis working together, their cultures could not have been more different. "Quite some time has passed since the days that we sweated it out at the East Fallujah Iraqi Camp. This is a recollection of what happened out there. There were several Marines that helped to conduct the training that we did. I think that we all equally contributed in different ways. Each one of them should be proud of what they did. Although this story is told from my perspective, it is not my story, it is our story." This book is a look at the culture, religion, and perhaps some insight into current events. link removed - please use the Amazon link at the top of the page to buy the book