Poppies



  • Blackadder, one of the goofiest sitcoms ever made, ends on a surprising, tasteful and emotional point.

    Good Luck Everyone - Blackadder - BBC – 03:17
    — BBCWorldwide

    "Who would have noticed another mad-man around here? ... good luck, everyone."

    Remember the heroes of the first fully-modern war, people.



  • Books:

    John Keegan's excellent (like everything he's written) overview of the war.

    A history of wartime camouflage, the men who invented it, and the fighting they had to do with the "old school" military officers to get it adopted. Much of the work is about WWII, but it includes chapters about the Dazzle camouflage used on ships in WWI, and steel sniper/observation nests constructed for the trenches and disguised as trees.

    Dazzle camouflage patters. The intent of Dazzle wasn't to render the ship more difficult to see (on the contrary: most Dazzle patterns are extremely visually distinctive), but to make ranging and targeting the ship more difficult-- for example, to mislead the viewer into guessing the wrong direction of travel or distance to the ship in an era before such things were measured by radar or lasers.

    Exactly what its title says, the first day of the Battle of the Somme and the build-up to it. This is the "turning-point" battle, the one after which both sides believed that trench defenses were virtually impenetrable and changed the war's tactic to a war of attrition.

    This book takes the opposite approach, instead of covering one small period of time, it covers one geological location of the length of the war. Recommended.

    Films:

    No commentary on these, as films are easier to digest and these films are pretty goddamned famous anyway:

    Stanley Kubrick is the greatest.

    <poop>

    Mel Gibson before he went insane

    <poop>

    More lighthearted fare. Clara Bow!

    Internets:

    This site has an immense collection of digitized WWI films from various European collections. Impossible to navigate and links have a tendency to take you to a million unrelated sites, alas, but the search field works pretty well.

    WWI in real-time. This has become kind of a trend on Twitter, someone will make an account that delivers the news as it happened 25/50/100 years ago. Shallow, but entertaining.



  • Books:

    Detailed treatment of how the war started. That's one of the most interesting parts for me. Good book.

    #Audio:

    ###Dan Carlin's Hardcore History: Blueprint for Armageddon

    The definitive WWI treatment. Still 2 more parts to go, but so far... well, it's hardcore history. It's the best thing ever.



  • Hmm, I'm trying to think of a good WWI movie, but not many come to mind.

    This one is about 20% WWI, and it was pretty good. Although not exactly about WWI.

    Mediocre Spielberg film. But still Spielberg.

    Sigh, I have to agree. Paths of Glory is the best. Although, someone still needs to make the Saving Private Ryan of the WWI.



  • @cartman82 said:

    Hmm, I'm trying to think of a good WWI movie, but not many come to mind.

    Most WWI movies are interwar, which is a problem for two reasons:

    1. They're not very accessible to people used to modern (post-1970ish) films or even "classic" (1940s+) films.

    2. Nobody remembers interwar films except the 4-5 most famous of them. And even then, only film buffs have actually seen, say, Metropolis-- sadly at this point in history, probably more people have seen this shitty anime homage than the original film.

    The instant WWII ended, studios basically instantly started making WWII films and forgot entirely about WWI. But to be fair, so did society-in-general... when I was a kid, WWI was like a paragraph in the history books, and WWII was like 4 chapters. Criminal.

    @cartman82 said:

    Although, someone still needs to make the Saving Private Ryan of the WWI.

    Have you seen Gallipoli? It's really, really good.

    One I forgot to mention, but for a shallow popcorn movie, I quite liked Flyboys: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flyboys_(film)


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @blakeyrat said:

    Dazzle camouflage

    Dazzle camouflage was an amazing innovation for its time. With its advent, the enemy had a very hard time even telling what kind of ship it was or which end was the front to know its heading. It really shows what can happen when you look at a problem from the other direction. Everyone was trying to make ships camouflaged and harder to detect, and then some guy comes up with the idea of going 180 degrees from that by using the wild patterns to obscure specific features. Positively ingenious.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Have you seen Gallipoli? It's really, really good.

    Yeah, I watched it a long time ago and remember it vaguely. It has that cool soundtrack.

    @blakeyrat said:

    Most WWI movies are interwar, which is a problem for two reasons:

    1. They're not very accessible to people used to modern (post-1970ish) films or even "classic" (1940s+) films.

    2. Nobody remembers interwar films except the 4-5 most famous of them. And even then, only film buffs have actually seen, say, Metropolis-- sadly at this point in history, probably more people have seen this shitty anime homage than the original film.

    The instant WWII ended, studios basically instantly started making WWII films and forgot entirely about WWI. But to be fair, so did society-in-general... when I was a kid, WWI was like a paragraph in the history books, and WWII was like 4 chapters. Criminal.

    Probably because for Westerners, WWI is seen in much more negative light than WWII.

    WWII has a ton of heroic Americans and a clear-cut enemy and flashy battles and the final glorious victory. WWI has none of that - friends and enemies are muddled, battles are dreary and indecisive, Americans barely enter into it militarily and in the end, thanks to crappy politics, none of it really mattered. All the major players lost, except Americans.

    Interestingly enough, WWI is on Balkans regarded much more highly than WWII. In WWI we were an important player (and one of the instigators too), we fought well and got nice booty in the end. A lot of Balkan peoples finally got their much desired nation states, on account of Austro-Hungary and Turkey going away.

    In WWII, on the other hand, we were a sideshow, easily swept aside and fucked over by the Soviets in the end. For Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Polaks and the rest, there was no glorious victory after which they got to ride away into a bright future. Just painful rebuilding and secret police and gulags and communist economy.



  • @cartman82 said:

    and in the end, thanks to crappy politics, none of it really mattered.

    What the FUCK are you smoking.

    Smuggling Lenin back into Russia was possibly the smartest move any General has ever made in history. That one event, even ignoring the BILLION of other bits of fallout (fall of the Ottoman Empire, Armenian Genocide, shitty cutting-up of Middle Eastern countries that we're still struggling with now a century later, etc.) is enough to justify the study of WWI.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    What the FUCK are you smoking.

    Smuggling Lenin back into Russia was possibly the smartest move any General has ever made in history. That one event, even ignoring the BILLION of other bits of fallout (fall of the Ottoman Empire, Armenian Genocide, shitty cutting-up of Middle Eastern countries that we're still struggling with now a century later, etc.) is enough to justify the study of WWI.

    Not that it didn't matter historically, you idiot.

    It didn't matter politically, for the victors. Because they ruined themselves to achieve victory and then failed to solve the German issue. Because WWII happened.



  • You think the rise of Communism didn't matter politically for France, the UK and the US?

    I don't even know how to address your post. It's so ridiculous on the face of it I must be misreading it.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    You think the rise of Communism didn't matter politically for France, the UK and the US?

    I don't even know how to address your post. It's so ridiculous on the face of it I must be misreading it.

    Once again, it mattered in terms of side affects. The whole world got turned on its head. The entire "modern" political landscape was created (Eastern Block, Middle East...).

    It didn't matter in terms of Atlantic vs Continental power divide within Europe. The whole reason the war got started in the first place. Germany was defeated in the worst possible way - not crushed militarily, but crushed financially and politically. This created an unstable situation, that eventually led to World War 2. So from the POV of the victors (the French and the British mostly), the war didn't solve their their situation and they had to fight again 30 years later.

    Thus, the victory "didn't matter" to them.



  • I'm still not wrapping my head around what you're saying exactly. And I disagree with what's laid-out there (Hitler is the reason WWII got started; his opinion that the surrender of 1918 was a betrayal to the German people was a by-far minority opinion before he took power. The government Hitler illegally seized power from certainly had no ambitions towards conquest or war.)

    But it sounds like you know what you're talking about.



  • I think I see the problem.

    You think I'm saying "War didn't matter".
    I'm actually saying "Victory didn't matter for the Atanta powers, because they had to fight again"

    As for the Hitler thing, that's debatable. To what extent is history shaped by Big Men versus historic forces? If Tandey shot Hitler when he had the chance, would WWII happened? And if it would, what form would it take? Who knows. IMO, some sort of conflict would happen, but it wouldn't necessarily be WWII.

    Interesting thought. Imagine 40-ies, 50-ies Germany without Nazism. The economic crisis is over. And they have both Einstein and von Braun on their side. And they still hold a WWI grudge. And then, there's the even bigger monster, Stalin. And Americans.

    Now that I think about it, I want to read an alternative history novel with that premise.



  • @cartman82 said:

    Hmm, I'm trying to think of a good WWI movie, but not many come to mind.

    For shame. One of my all time favorites (of any type of movie):



  • @boomzilla said:

    For shame.

    Oh damn. You're right. I've seen that and totally forgot about it.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Hitler is the reason WWII got started;

    There's plenty of blame to put on the Japanese, too.



  • @cartman82 said:

    I'm actually saying "Victory didn't matter for the Atanta powers, because they had to fight again"

    Right but by that logic, no victory ever matters anywhere ever. So my brain kind of rejects it.

    @cartman82 said:

    As for the Hitler thing, that's debatable.

    I don't think it is.

    @cartman82 said:

    If Tandey shot Hitler when he had the chance, would WWII happened?

    If it did, it would have spread primarily from the Japanese invasion of China, and been a much different war. Then again, western powers didn't give much of a crap about Japan's invasion until they extended far past Japan and attacked the Philippines (and of course Hawaii), which only happened after Japan got a "boost of confidence" by allying with Hitler.

    It's an interesting alternative history scenario. But the main question: would WWII have happened without Hitler? I'm leaning towards: no.



  • @boomzilla said:

    There's plenty of blame to put on the Japanese, too.

    The Japanese arguably started the war by invading China (depending on whether you count that invasion as part of WWII or something else), but the thing is nobody really cared about that except Russia, and even Russia didn't care enough to come to China's aid.

    The Japanese didn't expand the war beyond China until after they had assurances from Germany, though. Had they remained in China, would it have become a World War? I don't think it would have.



  • Possibly. I think it probably takes both of them to do it. I wonder how long we could have stayed out without Pearl Harbor.



  • I honestly don't believe even stuck-up superiority-complex Imperial Japan would have gone as far as Hawaii without assurances from Germany. They probably would have still have invaded the Phillipines, which would have gotten Anzac and British Empire-in-general forces involved. But does that flare up to a World War? Still not enough, IMO.

    (Interestingly, if it had, Germany would have been a non-entity. They would have strictly followed the surrender agreement in this alternative reality, and their military would have been small, poorly-trained and with obsolete equipment.)


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