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Did You Really Shoot the Television

Max introduces Did You Really Shoot The Television: A Family Fable

Almost all of us are intrigued by our own heredity. In this book, I’ve recounted the picaresque little saga of mine. The Hastingses weren’t at all important people, but they did some extraordinary and sometimes pretty weird things. And because they were writers for three generations, they wrote them down. When I did BBC’s Desert Island Discs back in 1986, I was pretty discreet about our tumultuous rows and my admittedly pretty awful childhood behaviour. But when my mother, Anne Scott-James, was DID’s guest at the age of 90 in 2003, to the audience’s delight and my toe-curling embarrassment, she regaled Sue Lawley with some horror stories, not least about my doings. For weeks afterwards, people came up to me in petrol stations and other unlikely places, asking: ‘Ere- did you really shoot the television ?’. It’s because people seemed intrigued by that question that I made it the title of this book. I’ll explain it in due course, but I want to make plain immediately that the victim was not a big set. Read More
churchill

Max’s Lecture on Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940-45

To a remarkable degree, even in 2010 the period of Winston Churchill’s war leadership continues to define many British people’s view of our own country. We have been told more about him than any other human being. Thousands of people of many nations have recorded encounters. The most vivid wartime memory of a British Eighth Army veteran whom I once met derived from a day in August 1942 when he found the prime minister his neighbour in a North African desert latrine. Read More

Max’s Lecture on Armageddon: The Battle For Germany 1944-45

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Forty-something years ago, when I was a teenager, even then avidly preoccupied with the Second World War, the study of its history was still dominated by fiercely nationalistic perceptions. Americans wildly overrated their battlefield contribution to victory, and perhaps underestimated their decisive industrial one. The British, astonishingly enough, still perceived themselves as the inhabitants of middle earth. The Russians barely acknowledged that the western allies had participated in the war at all. Read More

Max reviews The White War by Mark Thompson

The White War by Mark Thompson (Basic Books) Many Anglo-Saxons perceive Italy’s role in modern history as marginal and verging upon absurdity. Few American or British people contrived to hate Mussolini and his nation in the Second World War as they hated Hitler and his, because they did not fear Italians in the same way. There were those ponderous jokes which pleased stupid men with large moustaches in English pubs in the 1950s, about Italian tanks lavishly equipped with reverse gears. The day after Italy entered World War I in May 1915, a Slovene child in the Hapsburg Alpine village of Caporetto contributed something to the same legend by exclaiming as he saw Bersaglieri troops cycling towards him in their exotic plumed hats: ‘Daddy, daddy, look at all the ladies coming here on bikes !’ (p.71). Read More

Max reviews The Crimean War

The Crimean War by Orlando Figes (Metropolitan Books) The Crimean War In The British Imagination by Stefanie Markovits (Cambridge) Considering the depth of mutual suspicion and animosity between Britain and Russia after 1815, it is astonishing that the lion and bear have fought each other only twice. At Winston Churchill’s behest, British forces played a desultory role supporting the White interest in the 1919-21 Civil War. The nations clashed much more fiercely between 1854 and 1856, when the Crimean War made a flagellatory impact on British society: it set a benchmark for political and military bungling, and public recrimination about it, which endures today. Read More

Critical acclaim for All Hell Let Loose

(Published as INFERNO in the US) From the New York Times: “Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945” sums up and surpasses all his previous publications: a new, original and necessary history, in many ways the crowning of a life’s work Read More

Welcome

Welcome to Max’s new website. Here you will find a host of information on Max’s work, including both archive and new material. Read More

A Glimpse of a Work in Progress

Max's next book is to be a study of 1914- the approach to the First World War, its outbreak and early campaigns up to December, when the vast European battles of movement ended, and the trench stalemate became acknowledged on both the Eastern and Western fronts. 1914: Europe's Tragedy will feature Max's usual blend of top-down analysis and bottom-up human experience, mostly based on research in archives around Europe. Below is a snapshot, a random sample, of a few of the hundreds of pages of notes the author has already assembled, before starting to write the epic narrative that will be published for the centenary in 2014. Read More