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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

    Triumph of the Will? Japan After 1853

    Last week we asked the Japanese army a somewhat sarcastic question: What were you guys thinking? I’d argue that the Japanese decisions of 1931, 1937, and 1941 make almost no sense unless we delve back a bit into Japanese history. We need...

  • Fire for Effect

    A Question for the Imperial Japanese Army

    “What were you guys thinking?” The Imperial Japanese Army was, by most standards, a first-rate outfit. Its officers were as smart and dedicated as they come and the enlisted ranks were filled with some of the toughest light infantry...

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    Miracle: The Girl from Rotterdam

    As readers of this column know by now, war movies don’t do much for me. It’s a case of too much movie and not enough war. Too much Hollywood, not enough Hürtgen. Everything in real war is confused, bewildering, and ambiguous....

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    Smackdown: Timoshenko and the Winter War

    I’ve already confessed my love of the Talvisota, the “Winter War,” especially the opening phase in which the tiny Finnish army stood tall and smashed the initial Soviet invasion of their homeland. The Finns were a democratic people,...

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    White Death, Part 2: The Winter War

    Last time out we were discussing the Winter War, the conflict between the Soviet Union and Finland during the winter of 1939–40. As we saw, a combination of Soviet bullying and Finland’s refusal to be bullied had typical consequences...

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    White Death, part 1

    Ah, it’s that time of year again. There is a chill in the air, even down here in Texas. The leaves are starting to turn color. The Beaujolais Nouveau is being released today. The holiday season is about to begin, and the mood is festive....

  • 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,...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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...

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    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,...

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    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....

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    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...