Like many--if not most-- academic historians, I have long been skeptical of military history. Too often, it seems fixated with troop movements and strategy, technology and logistics,divorced from the human story that is its inevitable consequence. Yet despite my usual interest in the slightly less violent subject of popular religious culture, the causes and consequences of war fascinate me. Since the 80s, I have paid frequent visits to the Imperial War Museum in London, which places human beings at the heart of military history. Still, unfortunate encounters with military historians in real life have led me to keep the field at arm's length.
Add the word "battle" to the phrase "American Revolution" to sum up some of my recent areas of interest, and you have a formula that, it seems, only a military history buff could love.
An unexpected treat when I went to the movies in Atlanta to see Denial, the engrossing new film about the libel case that British Holocaust denier David Irving brought against American historian Deborah Lipstadt. After the movie, the real Dr. Lipstadt (who teaches at Emory) held a Q&A with the audience. You can just about make her out in my awful photo below, but that's her also on the screen with Rachel Weisz, who portrayed her in Denial. The movie was great, but this isn't a movie review as such, and I want you to see it, so no spoilers here. Just know that it's a film you won't forget. The Q and A was even better, and it is a pity that it's not humanly possible for Dr. Lipstadt to be on hand for every showing.
Signing books at a local fall festival in Atlanta, I was asked (yet again) if my books are historically accurate. I weaseled out of that in my usual way, boasting of my doctorate in history. Believe me, he wouldn't have wanted to listen to the alternative: a lengthy lecture.
Academic & Public Historian, Middle-Grades Author (The Snipesville Chronicles), Practitioner of Non-Boring History, Mother. AnnetteLaing.com