emma_in_dream: (Leia)
My Christmas present was a limited subscription to the UWA library. I used the time to download as much as possible.

The most interesting article I read yesterday was by an American folklorist who visited Afghanistan in the 1960s and tooled around gathering traditional stories about the Anglo-Afghan wars (of the late 1830-40s, 1870s-80s, 1919). He followed the route that the fleeing army took in the 1840s (16,500 people of which about 1,600 were soldiers, of which 1 survived) and asked the local villagers for stories about it. Naturally what he got back was telescoped with the events of the different wars conflated and the story tellers prioritised the doings of the ancestors in the different villages.

I guess what amazes me is that 1, I always forget that for a while in the 60s and 70s Afghanistan was an open society.

And 2, what the heck is the obsession with invading Afghanistan every generation. Look:

1840s, 1880s, 1919, not during the 1940s but they did partition India and Pakistan which impacted on Afghanistan, 1980s (on this occasion from the north not the south), 2000s.


Aug. 21st, 2017 05:53 pm
emma_in_dream: (Default)
Due to the enormous kindness of a friend who took my girls for basically all of Saturday, I got to see a movie after the home open.

I saw *Dunkirk* which was good, but not as good as the imaginary version that *I* would direct.

Nolan interwove three stories to try to show the complexity of the event, bringing them together at the end. This made it a bit choppy – it was night time in one timeline and Tom Hardy was still endlessly flying across the Channel in the afternoon in another timeline.

I say, why stop a three stories. There was tons more that I wanted to see. You could run it chronologically over the days of the operation but show a heap more stories. The poor sods who were selected for the rear guard, for instance, must have known that they were there to hold the line as long as possible with no chance of escape. It was death or imprisonment for them.

I want to know about the people waiting at home. At first the Government tried to hush it up for morale reasons, but then realised that they were about to lose the entire BEF and grovelled for small vessels to rescue people. Pretty much everyone must have been aware that if the army was lost, Britain could expect to be invaded very shortly.

I wanted more of the arguments between French and British troops over who was to be evacuated. And more of the high level arguments between Generals and Prime Ministers in which the British pointed out that all the rescuing ships were British and the French pointed out that the mole to reach them was French.

I wanted a lot more of the action that was going on. Nolan showed an essentially clean beach with one or two corpses and some orderly lines. I believe the BEF dumped in the harbour hundreds of trucks, tanks, and crates of weapons to destroy them before they fell into enemy hands. And I wanted to see more of the clever engineers who jury rigged proto-bridges to allow people to board further out. And the guys who managed to fix the mole after it caught fire. Also, the confusion, as orders shifted constantly about where to queue for best survival and the way stragglers who had lost their mates were shoved out of the queues by troops still in their groups. Also, mostly it was orderly queuing but there were some boats mobbed and overturned; some officers threatened to shoot troops who would not turn back from overloaded vessels.

I definitely wanted to know more about the people who lived in Dunkirk. In Nolan’s version the town was deserted. Was that really the case? I thought this was a very swiftly moving evacuation – did the whole population really evacuate through German lines? It seems impossible.

And I really wanted tons more about the small vessels. Look at the ridiculous names that the little ships had – all Lazy Days yacht names or Ferry no 2 for working ships. Not, you know, fighting names.

In short, I wanted something much closer to a documentary, showing me what was happening all over rather than following a few characters.


Sep. 8th, 2015 05:50 pm
emma_in_dream: (bucky)
My favourite thing mentioned on our union training was that in 1822 James Straighter, a convict shepherd, was sentenced to 500 lashes and a month of solitary confinement and an additional 5 years of penal servitude for ‘inciting his Master’s servants to combine for the purpose of obliging him to raise the wages and increase their rations’. Go you, James Straighter!
emma_in_dream: (Trek)
Life continues to suck, so instead of talking about what is happening in the real world, let me rave about my latest obsession. I recently watched the Captain America movies. (I had previously avoided them after watching like five minutes of Iron Man and being horrified by the way the whole of the Afghanistan war was just background to the American hero.)

I love the entirety of Captain America. I approach the text through slashy eyes of course, and the great big love love of Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes through time thing really pleases me.

Plus I am thrilled to find a fandom with so much backstory. Like literally 70 years worth. This must be how new Who fans felt in 2005 when they realised there was such a mammoth amount of canon. I am currently working through the oeuvre of Ed Brubaker, the guy who brought Bucky back from the dead.

And there’s so much history in the canon. I love that Steve Rogers is grounded in a specific time and place. I would highly recommend the historicallyacurateSteveRogers tumblr for a cornucopia of information about life in 1930s and 40s New York. Want to know what kind of slang the military were using? What people ate? The typical layout of a tenement? What kind of handwriting taught in schools? What slang was used for genitals at the time? What people wore on the streets? It’s all there.*

I shall now rave about a particular aspect of the canon. Marvel fans and those with a deep knowledge of America history can feel free to roll their eyes about my ignorance.

I had thought the title Winter Soldier was well chosen. It hints that he was kept (literally) on ice. It reminds us of General Winter, the great force in Russia’s historical battles. It suggests that he is cold and emotionless because wiped of his memories.

What I had not realised until I started reading fics is that it is a specific reference to Thomas Paine’s letters.

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

How fitting for a man who is like the longest serving POW ever.

Plus, it turns out that there was a famous Winter Soldier conference in 1971 In which veterans gave testimony about massacres and crimes they had witnessed in Vietnam, stating that they were the true patriots for calling the country on illegal war crimes. Some of their testimony eventually wound up being presented to Congress before the war concluded.

And then again veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have held similar hearings, with the information now available on Youtube.

I now appreciate the title Winter Soldier has layer upon layer of meaning, just like the fandom as a whole. I am really enjoying it.

· You remember how Steve calls Bucky a jerk and Bucky calls him a punk. Well, the modern meaning of ‘troublemaker’ was prevalent at the time but so was the meaning ‘effeminate guy’. It’s like Bucky is on the screen, ruffling Steve’s hair and calling him his twink.

May books

Jun. 1st, 2014 09:57 am
emma_in_dream: (Casablanca)
Some rather grim reading this month, including a pictorial history of the Great Patriotic War. The caption of each photo could basically have been the same - 'So this is the last thing I will see before I die'.

Read more... )
emma_in_dream: (Alice Liddell)
I knew that Ethel Turner was very involved in war work during World War One. I did not know she co-edited *The Australian Soldiers' Gift Book* (1915). Proceeds from the sales went to the Voluntary Workers, an organisation I had never heard of, which apparently bought land and built houses for disabled returned servicemen and their families in New South Wales at a place called French's Forest.

When I googled this organisation I got some hits for scanned in newspaper articles about people moving into houses so apparently it worked at least a few times.

The last paragraph reads: 'Let us realise that a generation will most surely arise which will turn a dull ear to the claims of those who bled and agonised that the Empire might live: let us strive now, when our hearts are filled with gratitude, to place those men to whom we owe so much in a position where penury and neglect will not embitter their later years.'

I don't know if I have a dull ear but I certainly don't understand World War One. No matter how many times I read about the network of alliances which pulled the various parties in one by one, I can never remember why it started or what any of them were trying to achieve. Nor can I fathom why anyone would fight that war. World War Two, yes, but World War One didn't have a selling point, a purpose.

The book contains works by Ethel Turner, Lilian Turner (her sister), Henry Lawson, Mary Gilmore, Dorothea Mackellar, and a whole heap of people I have never heard of. Also, illustrations by Norman Lindsay, May Gibbs, and, likewise, a heap of folks I have never heard of. The May Gibbs illustration is the only thing missing from the book, which is otherwise in good condition, so perhaps it was particularly good and was filched as a wall hanging?

My favourite of the otherwise frankly second rate and overtly jingoistic works is S Elliott Napier's sonnet to the great ally Russia. 'Implacable as are they arctic floes' Russia will not be moved. Except, you know, the way it was two years later with the Revolution.
emma_in_dream: (vintage)
Lots of golden age of detective fiction reading this month.

Also, I got the first volume of *Herstoria*, the women's popular history magazine. I got a subscription for my birthday - I love subscriptions because then you get presents scattered throughout the year.

Read more... )
emma_in_dream: (fred day)
In my book of Black Victorian art, there's an engraving of Jan Tzatzoe, Andriess Stoffles, James Read Sr, James Read Jr and John Philip giving evidence before a sub-committee of the House of Parliament.

They were leaders of the peoples being impacted on by the British settler expansion into Cape Province, and made an argument for their land rights (in order to promote 'the spread of civilisation' and 'the peaceful reception of the Christian religion').

Imagine if they had actually prevailed through reasonable discussion. There's scope for an alternate universe story.
emma_in_dream: (Daisy Duke)
It turns out Western Australia was bombed multiple times during World War Two. I'm sure this was never mentioned in history at school - I'm sure I would have remembered.

Places that were bombed - Wyndham, Broome, Port Hedland, Derby, Onslow, Exmouth Gulf, Kulumburu, and Port Gregory.


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