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pre-1980 books -better?

Discussion in 'WWII Books & Publications' started by bronk7, Oct 15, 2019.

  1. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    Which is better? Well (like many things) it depends.

    In general and in my experience, pre-80 books are better written. They were not all vividly or engagingly written, but they were correct. This was true not only of the histories but of the diaries and memoirs as well. The writers grew up in a pre-internet era when literary culture was stronger and more widespread, writing and grammar were better taught than they are now, and you would be called on an error. I am shocked sometimes when I read contemporary books to see the basic goofs which have gotten by the editor and proofreader. (To my own shame, I missed one in my own book.) Just as bad are the contemporary jargon and cliches which litter so many otherwise good recent books. "Player" for "important figure," "impact" as a verb, etc. etc. Really good and even exciting style was also more common in earlier works, especially in British and Australian ones. I loved the old Ballantine-Purnell and Pan series and I still recall how vivid the works of Kenneth Macksey, Alistair Horne, Geoffrey Jukes, Alan Moorehead, Alan Clark, Anthony Farrar-Hockley, John Vader, and R.W. Thompson were to me as a young reader. Among the Americans I liked S.L.A. Marshall and Martin Caidin. All these men were good writers.

    These authors and others all knew how to research and they dealt competently and responsibly with the sources available to them. The problem of course was the limitation of those sources. Much was unavailable or edited to protect reputations and this inevitably colored interpretations. Max Hastings and Carlo d'Este can stand beside the older generation as good writers and stylists, but they have much more material available to them and this too has conditioned the way we now view the war. Many of the older books can still be read with profit and I think that most of the historical judgements reached by the historians of the 50s 60s and 70s still stand up, but in terms of both fact and nuanced interpretation many of the newer books are superior. I only wish more of them were better written. David Glantz is dull and H.P. Willmott's style has become so crabbed and clogged with subordinate clauses that I can't read him anymore.
     
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  2. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Caiden was a good writer, however he played fast and loose with facts. Not exactly what I would recommend to a serious historical reader, but eminently suited to the mass market paperback crowd.
     
  3. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    I wouldn't be too lofty about the mass market paperback crowd. Lots of excellent, reliable books were published in that format in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and since they were inexpensive they reached a lot of people (like me as a kid) who couldn't afford hardcovers. Not all of them were top notch history, but they got many of us interested in the war and in history. It's not the format that matters, it's the content.
     
  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Life lesson:

    Its not what you do, its how you do it.
     
  5. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Unfortunately Caiden's content was more fiction than fact...He was a good storyteller who never let facts stand in the way of a good story.
     
  6. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..I liked the Ragged Rugged Warriors.....he did a lot of fiction also
     
  7. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Have a copy of that, as well as Samurai, P-38 fork-tailed Devil, Flying Forts, and some others.
     

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