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Fire for Effect

Robert M. Citino, author of The Path to Blitzkrieg and The German Way of War, takes a closer look at World War II’s most riveting battles, leaders, weapons, and tactics.




  • Fire for Effect, Politics

    “Memory: Using Leningrad”

    Last week I made myself sick writing about the siege of Leningrad.  World War II was a horrible time for everyone involved, and a lot of people had it very bad, indeed.  No one had it any worse than the poor population of Leningrad,...

  • Fire for Effect

    Horror: Leningrad Goes down the Drain

    I’ve dreaded writing this column.  I’ve been dancing around it, in fact, with a lot of talk about the meaning of history, about post-modernism and the accepted “narrative” of World War II.  Frankly, all that...

  • Fire for Effect

    Fact: the Siege of Leningrad

    I received some good discussion on my last post. Some took me to task, others were supportive, and still others were non-committal. At issue was the notion of how much of history is an eye-of-the-beholder narrative and how much is—to use...

  • Fire for Effect

    Narrative? Real Life?

    OK, all you postmodernists, you intellectuals who think that there is no such thing as reality, that it is all about the narrative, that each participant in a historical event has a separate and equally valuable experience that is as...

  • Arts and Culture, Fire for Effect

    High Castle II: Philip K. Dick’s War

    Last time out we discussed Philip K. Dick’s great “alternate history” of World War II, The Man in the High Castle. In this award-winning novel, reality has apparently been turned upside down. President Roosevelt has died by an...

  • Fire for Effect

    The View from the High Castle: Philip K. Dick and World War...

    We’ve been discussing the accepted “narrative” of the war, the ways that we Americans have tended to interpret it. Others have their own “histories” of World War II, and they can vary wildly by era, by place, by perspective. To...

  • Fire for Effect

    “A Mud Hut in Manchuria”: Why We Fight, Part 2

    Last week I wrote about Frank Capra and his incomparable Why We Fight series of wartime propaganda films. From our own perspective, it’s easy to pick apart the details of Capra’s vision. Some of the argumentation is simplistic, sure,...

  • Fire for Effect

    No Doubt: Frank Capra’s “Why We Fight”

    Last week I spoke my piece about Edward R. Murrow and his I Can Hear it Now series. Ed’s been dead a long time, but my hunch is that if he were alive, he wouldn’t be doing a lot of hand-wringing about World War II, or the...

  • Fire for Effect

    What Narrative? Edward R. Murrow’s “I Can Hear it Now”

    I’ve been spending the past few columns discussing “the narrative” of World War II, our accepted version of the conflict, and how important it is to challenge it when we think it needs changing. I’ve obviously touched a nerve....

  • Fire for Effect

    Narrative: the Crusade

    Last week I urged you all to challenge the “accepted narrative” of World War II, to come up with things you used to believe about the war that no longer hold water. I received some great answers! Some of you used to think the western...

  • Fire for Effect

    The Narrative

    A crazy question: what do we really KNOW about World War II? A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the annual conference of the Society for Military History (SMH). The site this year was Lisle, Illinois, and the host was the First Division...

  • Fire for Effect

    Requiem

    I’m sitting in LaGuardia Airport at the moment, returning home from a trip to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. I’m proud to have a tie to the Academy: I taught there as a visiting professor during the 2008–09 school year, and...

  • Fire for Effect

    Join the SMH

    It sounds like a joke, I know: a conference of history professors. Oh yeah…that’s a party. You better hunker down, locals. Lock your doors. Call the police! But I just returned from a conference of history professors, the annual...

  • Fire for Effect

    Happy Anniversar(ies)!

    We live in an anniversary culture, one in which the media never stops telling us Why This Day Is Special. I am writing this column on June 7th—did you know this was the day Sony introduced the Betamax videocassette recorder for sale to...

  • Fire for Effect

    Picturing the War: the Sadler Collection

    Being a historian of World War II puts you in touch with the most interesting people. It is a rare day that my email does not contain a message from someone I’ve never met before asking me a factual question about some aspect of the...

  • Fire for Effect

    “Pinochle is a Rough Game”: My Love for Stalag 17

    Regular readers of this column will know that I don’t really get excited about war movies. I read a lot, research a lot, and write a lot, and there are only so many hours in the day. In a publishing career of 25 years, I have precisely...