Monday, 29 June 2009

Michael Jackson and Patrick Hennessey on BBC Radio 4

I doubt whether Michael Jackson, the popular entertainer who died last Thursday, is of enormous interest to the readers of History Today. So I will comment no further than to note that he was described on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme as the equal of Mozart and Beethoven among the ranks of musical genius (which begs the question, which of his songs is the equivalent of one of Beethoven’s late string quartets), and that his death has received and will continue to receive greater coverage than the current events in Iran. Let us not despair though, for the same BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week has provided a remarkable insight into the life and mind of an elite soldier. Patrick Hennessey’s The Junior Officers’ Reading Club: Killing Time and Fighting Wars (Allen Lane) paints a remarkable picture of modern soldiering not least because it demonstrates what many choose not to believe: that a great number of soldiers, and this has been the case throughout history, like fighting, or ‘scrapping’ as Hennessey calls it. Uncomfortable but true.

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