Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Introduction to World War II - History of World War 2 Podcast Ray Harris Jnr

There is so much stuff around about the Second World War, and it is so familiar that I tend to ignore it.  And listening to the introduction to this series reminded me why.  It was a pretty dull repeating of stuff we have all heard before.  But I have noticed that a lot, most in fact, history podcasts get better as they go along.  So I sneaked a peak at some later ones and the whole of 24 and was quite impressed. Given that we all know the story, I think it is one where you can get away with jumping in at a later episode.  So my plan is to listen to them all, but only start reviewing them from when I find them worth recommending. 

In the meantime, the advice is don't judge it too quickly if you don't like the first one.  And if you do like the first one, you are probably going to become a fan.



  1. I am a Frenchman who likes history, always interested in what American are told in their history books about WWII.
    Holywood and textbooks as well as some political figures have created a great myth about these days. Saving the world, freeing their friends, paying the bill so generously that even the Soviets could not even have fought without the essential help from the USA.
    Western Europe kind of subscribed to this version, because post war Europe needed some capitalist propaganda to avoid political unrest, but the premise and the myth is baseless and unfair. The US entered the war after all the German forces were busy doing the real fight in the East. The US joined very late after the outcome was clear, just as for WWI.
    Hearing Americans lecturing Europeans about how hard and gloriously they fought is annoying, because most educated people know it is for their domestic consumption. History is written by winners, but and is very different history than the one in Eastern European books, and especially the un-written history that exists in Germany and the other countries that were on the other side, the side of the loosers.
    Ray Harris seems so far, to have been descriptive and correct about the Battle of France, and I really hope he continues in this direction. He seems to be unbelievably specific, but I am not a historian, and comes up with highly descriptive stories that seems to be extremely close to what possibly happened or make sense that it happened as he describes it.
    It is refreshing and I really have high expectations for anything that will follow in his next podcasts, especially when it will come to the beginning of the entry to war of the US in Western Europe, and hearing a more honest interpretation.

  2. Some good points there Phil. It is not often appreciated that Britain and Russia were both in pretty strong positions to fight off the Nazis, and as you say together there isn't much doubt that they would have won in the end. But maybe ending the war two or three years earlier is still a pretty worthwhile achievement for the Americans?

  3. I've just started listening to Ray's history and am currently up to the fall of Paris. I enjoy it immensely. Two comments I'd like to offer on the points you make, Phil...first both the French and the British dearly wanted US intercession. If it had occurred at the time of the fall of France, perhaps the outcome would have been different (and I am thinking negatively as opposition in the US may have galvanized against intervention and it may not have been as strong as "...after the outcome was clear..." which was after the US was ready to gear up, after Pearl Harbor). Secondly, let's not forget that the US was massively engaged in the Pacific theater as well and that the outcome was not clear there, even up until Truman decided that nuclear weapons would help bring a faster and less prolonged and painful conclusion to the war in the Pacific. Personally, I've always considered the European theater, for the US, as secondary. Could Europe have been recovered without the US? Probably. But it's hard to imagine the Soviets doing it without a strong ground presence from the west. And where else would that have come from before the US was ready, willing, and able to support the Allied war effort?