New ‘Revisionist History’

By Ann Shayne
August 12, 2017

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35 Comments
  • Thank you.

  • Thank you. I will not spoil my vacation with this, but as soon as I get home I will listen. We saw Dunkirk last week and were terribly moved by it, especially by the young performers whose identities were unknown to us. I, too, find it hard not to think about war these days…how can we not?

    • Enjoy your vacation! I continue to be struck by how restored I feel after a change in scenery and thinking.

  • Excellent, thanks.

  • I, for one, try to not think about war. My worrying about it changes not one scintilla of it. All of the power associated with it lies high in a stratosphere of people I cannot possibly know or influence except at the voting box when the time comes. Some of these leaders I helped elect and all of them I have prayed for to deal with domestic and foreign barbarians and neanderthals. What I can do is just create a life around me that reflects sanity, love and peace. Knitting, in an important creative way, helps me with all of that.

    • Sanity, love, and peace. Yes!

    • Can’t help thinking about the lyrics of the beautiful song: “Let there be peace on earth
      And let it begin with me.”
      Hard to be peaceful these days, but knitting does help!

  • I guess one way or another, war is about boundaries, (to put it in the simplest terms). I never thought of it like that, though, till reading this letter. I have always been a little afraid of watching war movies. However, one that comes to mind is Stalag 17. I also liked the movie about post WWII issues, The Best Years of Our Lives.

    • The Best Years of Our Lives is so heartbreaking, so helpful. You know, the director is William Wyler, the very same director who made Memphis Belle, the documentary I write about today. I think about his experience in that bomber, during which he lost his hearing almost completely forever afterward, and imagine how he struggled to find the next film he would make. It premiered in 1946, when the flood of veterans coming home likewise struggled to return to daily life.

      • My cousin once said to me – and as I grew up I realized it – that the story of “The Best Years of Our Lives” was the story of my father and his generation.

        War (and all this bomb talk) makes me ill …as though killing people solves anything.

        My friend is going to a “celebration” of the restored fighter pilot her father flew in WWII. My father was a radioman in a Sherman Tank, 3rd Army, 13th Armored Division. Destroyed parts of his hearing as well. He stayed away from war documentaries.

        I think I am going to read Vera Brittain, or Wilfred Owen poems. and stop thinking of John Hersey’s “Hiroshima.” And put on some Barbara Cook cds.

    • I think it is Michael Ondaatje in The English Patient who says that without boundaries there would be no wars – I’m sure I have over simplified his words, but reading them was a light bulb moment for me. That was the first time I really looked at the dark side of patriotism/nationalism other than in the historical context of fascist or nazi regimes. Not that history isn’t important, although we never seem to learn from it.

  • Raveller Vanessanorth has done a free chart for the Dunkirk fair isle.

    http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/inspired-by-dunkirk

    And GQ has an article called “The Best Part of ‘Dunkirk’ is the Sweaters”

    https://www.gq.com/story/dunkirk-sweaters-are-the-best-part-of-dunkirk

  • “sometimes a sheep-shearing video is a luxury.” Beautifully said. Thank you for reminding me of this.

  • I have just returned from a quilt retreat or, as we called it, “quilt camp.” Thirty women gathered in the Maine woods with three extraordinary teachers and one kick-ass facilitator to dye indigo, sew improv blocks, and hand stitch. While I was there I recommended this site to several people. “I don’t knit much,” they would sometimes reply. “I don’t either,” I would respond. And then I would try to explain why I follow Ann and Kay and how much I enjoy what you share here. I hope my new friends check you out today ~ this post explains it all. Thank you for caring about the world and for sharing all that you do.

    • Thank you so much, Sharon. I can only imagine the fun you all had in the Maine woods!

  • Yes, thank you. The sheep shearing video can be soothing, but it shouldn’t be the only thing we think about these days. Nobody should keep their heads down and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist.

    • Man, is that something I struggle with these days. It’s hard to watch; it’s impossible to ignore. Rinse, repeat.

  • I found Dunkirk truly wonderful but exhausting to watch because of all the tension. Recently read: In Farleigh Field: A Novel of World War II, quire good not great. However, (mild spoiler alert) a dead soldier in English uniform, was thought to be a spy and one of the reasons was that a women in the M1 office said his sock heels were not turned in the English manner. Do not underestimate knitters contributions.

    • Quite not quire. Sheesh.

      • Ha! That’s brilliant!

  • Another great post, thanks for the info about Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast, I’m heading over there now.

  • I love Revisionist History! Gladwell is so good at finding the drama in the backstory. He can get a little shrill and soapboxy at times, but his points and observations are all very good and not considered/noticed by most historians or pundits.

  • My first awareness of the Dunkirk evacuation was watching the 1940 movie ‘Mrs. Miniver” years ago on TV. (Sorry about the quotation marks…couldn’t get italics to work). I was so moved by what the Brits suffered and their courage. Interestingly, the film also was directed by Wyler. I watch it again whenever i get the chance. I highly recommend it for the beautiful setting as well as the wonderful actors.

    it is “heavy rowing” to think about war, but it is always present. Knitting does help.

    I will be checking out the podcast and will see “Dunkirk.”

  • Thank you.

  • Battles in Charlottesville, VA, on TV this morning. It is happening now. We are so much better than this.

  • Thanks for highlighting this topic especially these days. I, too, always think of war: baby boomer and daughter of a Korean War hero. I will listen to Gladwell’s podcast and let my friends know about it. We need to remember and be aware of how the powers that be operated.

  • I do feel helpless to affect current events. As someone said, “I vote.” It didn’t help much, but the Serenity Prayer, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” is the best I can do. And to keep knitting.

  • Sometimes, the “heavy rowing” is a good thing, not pleasant but important. Thanks for this post, and for the wonderful photo of Winston and his men. Somehow, they really did save the world, so we can continue to ponder such things as knitting. God bless ’em, and all those men in those little boats.

  • My father enlisted as soon as he could after Pearl Harbor. He was a tail-gunner on a B25 and flew in missions over The Hump of Burma into China. I grew up listening to his stories, and in 1989 he went back through China ‘in search of ghosts.’ He wrote a book of that title comparing the modern China to the early 1940’s. He lived to be 89 and was one of last of his generation.

  • Did you see the Foyle’s War episode that included Dunkirk? I recommend the whole series, in chronological order of course. Foyle’s War is definitely binge-material IMO.

    • I’ve been meaning to watch it–thanks for the reminder. Broadchurch is about to run out!

      • If you’ve never watched it, I think you are in for a treat. I watched all of it years ago, and have a bit of a thing for Mr. Foyle. Also, to this day, when I pull the lid off one of my galvanized trash cans I sometimes think of one of Sam’s greatest moments and grin.

  • Dunkirk is incredible, though difficult to watch and imagine living. An incredible WWI book is “Regeneration” by Pat Barker. A must read. (The other two books in the trilogy are very good too).

  • One other thought: one of the best films from the war genre (or any other genre for that matter) is “Joyeux Noel”, a 2005 release about WW1 told from the English, French and German viewpoints. The audience in the little theater where I watched it, way back then, quietly and elegantly stood as one unified group, applauding in unison at the conclusion of the movie. The movie is so moving and illustrates more brilliantly than words can express about the young soldiers’ emotional and ethical conflicts as they wrestle with obedience to fighting battles dictated by their “superiors” while sacrificing their own basic humane values.

  • When Kissinger was negotiating nuclear treaties with the USSR, his lack of specific kniwledge also caused him to just throw out numbers of payloads, etc off the cuff. And that became the rule.