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#1
Old 03-26-2010, 05:56 AM
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Blithe, Band of Brothers

I'm watching the series again and one of the more haunting characters from the film, for me, was Blithe. Prompted by my second viewing to look up hysterical blindness, I ended up seeing this entry on the wikipedia page for the actual Albert Blithe:

Quote:
Misreports of an early death

Blithe is the subject of a particularly glaring error in the book and mini-series Band of Brothers. Fellow Easy Company Currahee veterans interviewed while writing the book and mini-series had believed, in error, that Blithe was wounded in the neck, and that he did not recover. In the book, author Stephen Ambrose reported those errors as fact, and stated that Blithe had died in Philadelphia in 1948. Ambrose's errors were compounded in the mini-series, in which the "Carentan" episode ends with a slide stating that "Albert Blithe never recovered from the wounds he received in Normandy. He died in 1948."

After viewing the mini-series, the Blithe family publicly corrected this historical error, and requests were made to edit the mini-series to remove it. Photographs and records documenting his service after 1948 and his 1967 death are now posted on the website of the 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment Association.[1] However, the error has not been corrected in the book (though the 2001 UK edition makes no mention of Blithe's death) and has been perpetuated in the DVD editions of the mini-series. It is still in repeated broadcast of the series as recently as the January 17, 2010 broadcast of the episode on HBO.

The Blu-ray version has an interactive guide called "In the field with the men of Easy Company", stating correctly that Blithe died in 1967.
I own the blu-ray box set and watched all of the extra stuff but don't remember seeing that correction. I'll look for it this time.

What I found haunting and compelling about the character in the film is that he was portrayed as a bit of a mess out in the battlefield, dazed and confused before, during, and after battle after battle, wandering around and acting not quite right, dismissed/tolerated as inferior by other men in Easy Company, and then he dies in 1948 as the result of getting shot in the neck in battle.

In actuality (again, according to Wikipedia), the guy enlisted 2 more times after WWII, made over 600 jumps, was Trooper of the Year in 1958, and died of a perforated ulcer in 1967, buried with full honors at Arlington.

The error and the creative license that it implies on the part of Stephen Ambrose seem particularly egregious to me. I feel bad for Blithe's family and their efforts to correct the facts and his portrayal. I'd be quite curious to somehow be able know how far off the portrayal in the book and film was (aside from the inaccuracies about his death) compared to the recollections of the veterans interviewed by Ambrose and any documents related to his research. And in turn, how for those recollections and documents may have been from who Blithe really was, if we can ever truly know such things about other people.

Last edited by ComeToTheDarkSideWeHaveCookies; 03-26-2010 at 05:59 AM.
#2
Old 03-26-2010, 10:54 AM
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That's really interesting. How do we know for sure that it was creative license rather than an honest mistake?

It'd be nice if they could edit future editions of the DVD. How hard would it be to do that? It's just a few lines of text.
#3
Old 03-26-2010, 11:03 AM
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In the book, ISTR that Blithe's disorientation and confusion was attributed to the air-sickness medication that the Airborne troops were given for the first time before the jump into Normandy. Some genius/idiot decided they should be given the medication before combat even though they'd never had it before, and had made many training jumps under simulated combat conditions, with those getting consistently airsick being transferred out. Many troopers had a bad reaction to the medication itself. Same with the leg bags - something they'd never trained with that was handed to them right before the real jump, only to find they had a tendency to tear loose when you exited the airplane, resulting in lots of unarmed soldiers (including Dick Winters) wandering around the French countryside.
#4
Old 03-26-2010, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ComeToTheDarkSideWeHaveCookies View Post
I'm watching the series again and one of the more haunting characters from the film, for me, was Blithe.
I thought that was probably the best made and most compelling episode in the series, so I was also a little disappointed to find out the story was factually inaccurate. I didn't feel that cheated though, as I expected a certain amount of dramatic license. On an emotional level, it felt authentic, if that makes any sense.

I also feel sorry for the family for the way in which his story was misrepresented.
#5
Old 03-26-2010, 02:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ComeToTheDarkSideWeHaveCookies View Post
I'm watching the series again and one of the more haunting characters from the film, for me, was Blithe. Prompted by my second viewing to look up hysterical blindness, I ended up seeing this entry on the wikipedia page for the actual Albert Blithe:



I own the blu-ray box set and watched all of the extra stuff but don't remember seeing that correction. I'll look for it this time.

What I found haunting and compelling about the character in the film is that he was portrayed as a bit of a mess out in the battlefield, dazed and confused before, during, and after battle after battle, wandering around and acting not quite right, dismissed/tolerated as inferior by other men in Easy Company, and then he dies in 1948 as the result of getting shot in the neck in battle.

In actuality (again, according to Wikipedia), the guy enlisted 2 more times after WWII, made over 600 jumps, was Trooper of the Year in 1958, and died of a perforated ulcer in 1967, buried with full honors at Arlington.

The error and the creative license that it implies on the part of Stephen Ambrose seem particularly egregious to me. I feel bad for Blithe's family and their efforts to correct the facts and his portrayal. I'd be quite curious to somehow be able know how far off the portrayal in the book and film was (aside from the inaccuracies about his death) compared to the recollections of the veterans interviewed by Ambrose and any documents related to his research. And in turn, how for those recollections and documents may have been from who Blithe really was, if we can ever truly know such things about other people.
That's not what I took away from the end.

Blithe, in the end, ended up a good soldier. IIRC, he volunteered to lead a scouting probe of a house and was shot. To me, that scene meant he was no longer a mess and a good man/soldier to have in the company...

Am I misremembering?
#6
Old 03-26-2010, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by BlinkingDuck View Post
Am I misremembering?
No, I remember that scene too. Didn't somebody get shot (not Blithe)?

Winters being calm and accepting with Blithe's blindness is one of the standout scenes of the series for me. How did Winters know to do that? Was it part of his personality -- if he was judgmental he hid it well -- or was it covered in his training?
#7
Old 03-26-2010, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by BlinkingDuck View Post
That's not what I took away from the end.

Blithe, in the end, ended up a good soldier. IIRC, he volunteered to lead a scouting probe of a house and was shot. To me, that scene meant he was no longer a mess and a good man/soldier to have in the company...

Am I misremembering?
That's how I remember it, and it's what I got from the scene, that he'd gotten over whatever issued he'd had in the beginning, and was going to turn into a very good soldier. Then he got shot in the neck, making his transformation tragic.

I can't remember where I heard this, so I have no cite and no idea if it's accurate, but part of the reason Blithe was killed off in the book was the other Easy Company men did think he died - he really was injured in battle, but returned to war when he recovered, just didnt' end up serving with the same men. They never saw him again, and assumed he died.
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Old 03-26-2010, 03:06 PM
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In the film he just starts to come out of his cloud, he kills an enemy soldier and takes the rare flower off of his body, then volunteers for a patrol to check out a farmhouse, where he is shot in the neck.

For me, the jarring part of the error with respect to the film is that the haunting mood is underscored by the fatalism that Blithe never recovers from his neck injury and dies from it.

It makes good cinema but there was no such tragic fatalism in this man's actual life. The creative license that I have a problem with is milking that false fatalism for all that it is worth, even if it made for compelling entertainment, because the film was supposed to be a well-researched and a portrayal that was striving for accuracy and authenticity.

I would not have any problem whatsoever if Ambrose had just created a fictional character to be the bearer of the drama that he used Blithe as the vehicle to deliver.
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Old 03-26-2010, 03:11 PM
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Apparently, he attended the first Airborne reunion but none after that. And even if all of those interviewed though he had died from his injuries, not doing follow up fact checking for a featured character for such an undertaking is just really really sloppy.
#10
Old 03-26-2010, 03:57 PM
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BOB had a very good 11th episode that they hardly ever show - it is interviews with the real vets. After HBO showed the full series the last 2 months the 11th episode was shown on Direct TV channel 101. I assume it is on the box sets.
#11
Old 03-26-2010, 07:10 PM
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It's not the first time a character has besmirched a real life person of good standing, like that bloke from Titanic.
#12
Old 03-26-2010, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by ComeToTheDarkSideWeHaveCookies View Post
I would not have any problem whatsoever if Ambrose had just created a fictional character to be the bearer of the drama that he used Blithe as the vehicle to deliver.
Lordy, I can't believe I'm defending Ambrose here, but...

My copy of Band of Brothers (book) mentions Blithe all of twice in the index. Neither place mentions that he died -- although it does have the hysterical blindness episode. Scanning the Postwar Careers chapter, I can't find mention of Blithe's fate. So I'd lay this particular fiction on the miniseries writers.

Much as I lay the character-assassination they did to Webster for the sake of story.

Now, Ambrose did apparently get all the details wrong about Floyd Talbert going all PTSD mountain-man before dying. Although that gaffe didn't make it into the miniseries.

edit: And, yes, the DVDs have the veteran interviews. That's the best part of the miniseries, really.

Last edited by Lightray; 03-26-2010 at 10:25 PM.
#13
Old 03-26-2010, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by ComeToTheDarkSideWeHaveCookies View Post
I own the blu-ray box set and watched all of the extra stuff but don't remember seeing that correction. I'll look for it this time.
I can vouch that it is in there. It's only there if you have the "In the Field..." special feature activated. It's not included in the normal episode as they didn't change anything from the originally aired versions.
#14
Old 03-27-2010, 04:16 AM
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Didn't Ambrose produce a couple of episodes and consult heavily on overall screenplay?
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Old 03-27-2010, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Lightray View Post

Much as I lay the character-assassination they did to Webster for the sake of story.

What do you mean? I've watched BoB multiple times & haven't noticed any character assassination. The episode The Last Patrol indicates that some members of Easy Co. thought he was goldbricking because of the length of his absence after being wounded, but it doesn't state that it was true. If anything, the episode portrayed Webster as being very concerned about the ragged state he found Easy Co. in.
#16
Old 03-27-2010, 08:01 PM
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What do you mean? I've watched BoB multiple times & haven't noticed any character assassination. The episode The Last Patrol indicates that some members of Easy Co. thought he was goldbricking because of the length of his absence after being wounded, but it doesn't state that it was true. If anything, the episode portrayed Webster as being very concerned about the ragged state he found Easy Co. in.
I mean that the actual person Webster bears utterly no resemblance to the character that they made up for the miniseries. Webster's own autobiography -- Parachute Infantry -- makes the difference between the reality and fiction quite apparent.

The real Webster was not on the Last Patrol, and never would have volunteered. He comes across as somewhat of a goldbricker and a whiner in his own book. He certainly would not have freaked out and pulled a gun on a German baker out of rage over finding the concentration camp.

Ambrose had read Webster's autobiography in researching his own book, so it looks like the re-write of reality for the Last Patrol was done by the miniseries writers in the cause of "better story". Although, really, that's the worst episode of the bunch.

Incidentally, I believe that Joe Liebgott's kids were also irritated at their dad's portrayal as Jewish, since he'd been raised and passed as Catholic, apparently to avoid being perceived as Jewish.
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Old 03-27-2010, 08:07 PM
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Webster's yelling at the German soldiers they were passing on the road after the war was starting to wind-down, and his apparent bias that anyone living in Germany was by definition guilty of looking the other way from Nazi atrocities, and his peripheral involvement with (i.e. not preventing) the murder of the man in Austria...and there may be another one or two seeming character flaws that I'm forgetting...I thought it was a compelling turning of the tables with Webster experiencing both ends of the spectrum of irrational hatred, but it doesn't necessarily shine a positive light on him.

Is that what you mean, Lightray?

Last edited by ComeToTheDarkSideWeHaveCookies; 03-27-2010 at 08:09 PM. Reason: Doh, should have previewed.
#18
Old 03-27-2010, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by ComeToTheDarkSideWeHaveCookies View Post
Is that what you mean, Lightray?
Yeah, that's the stuff. It's like whenever the writers needed a PoV character to do something to express what the audience may be feeling (yell at Germans, volunteer for patrol), Webster was their go-to guy. Even though it made his characterization erratic, at best.

Although the real Webster really wasn't fond of the Germans, he wasn't the sort of guy to go shouting at random Germans or waving guns in their faces.

I really recommend his autobiography, though. He was a good writer, and his personality comes through very clearly. Which I find irritating, because I like the guy in the book, despite his flaws; the guy in the miniseries just annoys me.
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Old 03-27-2010, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Lightray View Post
I mean that the actual person Webster bears utterly no resemblance to the character that they made up for the miniseries. Webster's own autobiography -- Parachute Infantry -- makes the difference between the reality and fiction quite apparent.

The real Webster was not on the Last Patrol, and never would have volunteered. He comes across as somewhat of a goldbricker and a whiner in his own book. He certainly would not have freaked out and pulled a gun on a German baker out of rage over finding the concentration camp.

Ambrose had read Webster's autobiography in researching his own book, so it looks like the re-write of reality for the Last Patrol was done by the miniseries writers in the cause of "better story". Although, really, that's the worst episode of the bunch.

Incidentally, I believe that Joe Liebgott's kids were also irritated at their dad's portrayal as Jewish, since he'd been raised and passed as Catholic, apparently to avoid being perceived as Jewish.

OK, I haven't read Parachute Infantry. So, you're saying that BoB paints a more sympathetic picture of Webster than he deserves?

I wish I knew more about Cobb. The miniseries portrayal of him is so negative that you have to wonder how he could have made it thru training.
#20
Old 03-27-2010, 08:25 PM
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OK, I haven't read Parachute Infantry. So, you're saying that BoB paints a more sympathetic picture of Webster than he deserves?

I wish I knew more about Cobb. The miniseries portrayal of him is so negative that you have to wonder how he could have made it thru training.
Not necessarily more sympathetic. I liked the real Webster just fine after reading his book. I think the miniseries is inconsistent in his portrayal. But the big thing is that the guy in the miniseries bears no resemblance to the real Webster.

Which is a problem for a miniseries purporting to be depicting real events.

I vaguely recall one of the other veterans' books -- maybe Winters' -- mentioning that Johnny Martin really didn't like Cobb at all, and finally got him busted out of the unit after the events in the Last Patrol. You can see him being taken away by the MPs in the miniseries as Easy Co pulls out in that episode, actually.
#21
Old 03-27-2010, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Lightray View Post
I vaguely recall one of the other veterans' books -- maybe Winters' -- mentioning that Johnny Martin really didn't like Cobb at all, and finally got him busted out of the unit after the events in the Last Patrol. You can see him being taken away by the MPs in the miniseries as Easy Co pulls out in that episode, actually.

Aren't we humans strange? I guess it's like the book The Right Stuff describes it - "it can blow at any seam". I think of Cobb having the motivation to volunteer & the toughness to endure Camp Toccoa, & then just losing it.

I recently watched The Conscientious Objector on Netflix. The captain who gave Desmond Doss the most grief was the first one to run when the fighting started.
#22
Old 03-28-2010, 10:54 AM
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Slightly off-topic, but speaking of factual representations in BoB:

I just finished re-watching the episode in which Easy Company leads the assault on Foy, and I realized that the song the nuns sing to them in the convent at the end, and which becomes the basis for the orchestral playout of the episode, is "Plaisir d'amour" ("Joys of Love") -- an 18th-century French secular song about an unfaithful woman and the fleeting pleasure of being in love. It pulled me completely out of the story because I spent the rest of the time wondering if a choir of catholic nuns would actually sing that...in church, no less?

I can't say one way or another, but it struck me as odd.
#23
Old 05-09-2011, 01:38 PM
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I just finished watching the 35th and final episode in 1973 Thames Television documentary, "The World at War," titled "From War to Peace," which is an "interview" -- actually a monologue -- with Prof. Stephen Ambrose.

You won't believe what Ambrose said.

"Manpower losses were almost insignificant; compared to the other combants, insignificant. Only slightly more than a quarter of a million Americans died during the war. America was the least mobilized of all the nations, of all the major combants in World War II. Altogether, we had an army and navy and air force of 12 million men out of a total population of 170 million. And of that 12 million, probably less than six million ever got overseas."

I'm not a professional historian, but even I can spot at least one elementary error here. Can you?

1) According to wikipedia.org, the U.S. had 416,800 military deaths, the most of any Allied country except the USSR.

2) The population of the U.S. at the time was 131 million, according to wikipedia. The number cited by Ambrose was the population of the U.S. during the 1960s. That's the elementary error I was referring to.

3) The U.S. did not have an air force during WWII.

I have not been able to check the other numbers, perhaps someone else knows. But even so, nearly one in 10 of all Americans -- men, women and children -- served in the military during WWII. This Ambrose calls "the least mobilized."

Wait, there's more. Speaking of American treatment of Europe after the war, Ambrose said:

"The Lend Lease Act, which Churchilll, of course, called 'the most unsordid act in all human history' may very well have been that, but there was much about it that which was petty."

Churchill, of course, was praising The Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe after the war, not the Lend Lease Act. In his comments, Ambrose seems to be completely confusing the two programs. In the process, he unjustly maligns both President Harry Truman and General George Marshall, not to mention America.

Ambrose said the Soviet attack on Japanese forces in Manchuria lasting only two days was the decisive event in the Japanese decision to surrender. While I believe professional historians are generally entitled to their opinions, saying the Soviets deserve the credit for defeating Japan seems a bit outside the mainstream.

Some thoughts come to mind.

How did this guy every get a PhD. in history?

Did anyone at Thames Television actually watch Ambrose's monologue, aside from the cameraman? (I can see why the British, from a nationalistic viewpoint, rather than an historical one, might have liked Ambrose's remarks.)

Why did anyone take Ambrose seriously after this? Ambrose should have been demoted to teaching high school history, at best. Yet he was allowed to write books by publishers who seemed to have the attitude that you should not let facts get in the way of a good story.

To be fair to the documentary, episode 35 was part of the extras, so it may not have been broadcast at the time. But portions of his comments were used in the main documentary.

I don't understand how a professional historian can get such basic, well-known facts wrong, and get away with it.
#24
Old 05-09-2011, 02:08 PM
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1)He's referring to "battle deaths". Per the same wikipedia cite, "Deaths in battle were 292,131." At worst this is disingenuous, but I wouldn't say it's outright wrong.

3) You're being silly. No, the United States did not have an Air Force. It did have an air force. (The "Air Forces" existed during the entirety of the war, so if you want to argue that he was capitalizing in speech, maybe he just left off an s.)

I would agree that #2 is indeed an error, even though you appear to only be counting US Census statistics. Even if you include the Philippines and other areas that military forces were drawn from, I don't think you're going to get to 170 million.
#25
Old 05-09-2011, 04:57 PM
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Here is the webpage I was referring to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties

All it says is "military deaths."

What Ambrose said was "manpower deaths":

"Only slightly more than a quarter of a million Americans died during the war."

He does not distinguish military from civilian from battle deaths.

If you compare total American deaths, including civilians, then the U.S. did, indeed, get off relatively easy, compared to the horrors seen in other Allied countries, not to mention the Axis. But that's not what he said.

I have not been able to check his 12 million and 6 million numbers; perhaps someone else can.

As to his listing the air force as a separate service, this is the kind of error you see from inexperienced journalists who are too lazy to check usage in the AP Style Manual. It is not the kind of error you expect from a military historian.

This, combined with the erroneous attribution of the Churchill quote, are the kinds of things that perpetuate historical inaccuracies in the public's mind.

You can perhaps excuse isolated errors, but what you see here is a pattern of sloppy thinking and just plain not knowing the facts. And that's without even getting into some of his bizarre opinions.

I don't want to make it seem I think everything he said was idiotic. Some of the things were correct and insightful.

But you should watch this episode. He even lambasts Churchill for neglecting maintenance on Britain's railroads and highways during the war, so that they were in bad shape afterwards!

I'm sorry, but Ambrose really doesn't have much credibility in my mind. I wonder why it took so long for people to catch on.
#26
Old 05-10-2011, 01:08 AM
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There is a footnote on the Wikipedia article explaining the number in more detail. It is there that the battle deaths number is listed.

Anyway, it's better to go to one of the actual sources used by Wikipedia, namely this congressional report (pdf). That also lists 15 million serving during the period of hostilities, so he was off on that number. It looks like the actual number who served in the military was ~ 11% of the population, going with 130 million for population. Ambrose's inflated population marks it down to 7%. A definite error, but to my mind, 12 million is in the neighborhood if he was speaking off the top of his head (which he probably should not have been, but may well have been).
I can't easily find any numbers about the percentage who were sent "overseas", other than an unsubstantiated "74%" from this page. I think it'd take some work to find the answer, and it appears Ambrose was giving an estimate. Also this was 30 years ago when he did so.

On what do your base your belief that Churchill was talking about the Marshall Plan? This page, which unfortunately cites some dead links but appears to be reliable, makes a few statements. For one, Churchill apparently only ever called the Lend-Lease Act "unsordid". For many years, however, it's been said he referred to both Lend-Lease and the Marshall Plan this way, but that page does't provide a reference for the latter.

I don't know why you would insist that Ambrose was listing a separate service. Having an air force is not the same as having The Air Force. Would you claim that Germany had no air force then because they had a Luftwaffe?

Ambrose has made a number of mistakes, but not so frequently as you suggest he did.
#27
Old 05-10-2011, 03:17 AM
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My source for the Churchill quote is President Harry S. Truman, in the source I cited in the Wikipedia entry, "Plain Speaking, An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman," by Merle Miller.

Given that he knew General Marshall and Winston Churchill personally, and was the one who created the Marshall Plan, and that the source quotes Truman directly regarding the quote, it seems definitive to me.

Besides, it has always been my understanding that it referred to the Marshall Plan. I had never heard otherwise until I looked on the web following hearing Ambrose's statement. It makes me wonder how much sloppy historians like Ambrose contribute to such misconceptions.

If errors get picked up by the press, this can perpetuate it. An interesting example is the falsehood that Marconi invented radio. Yet you can still see this today in the press.

And now with the internet, outright lies perpetrated by PR men a century ago can still circulate, such as the nonsense that aluminum cookware causes cancer. Pure PR BS concocted in the 1920s. I have heard this from both a cookware seller and a person from Russia just recently.

BUT, the internet can also be used to set the truth straight. With a little checking I was able to find the source of the aluminum rumor, the false attribution of cancer from using aluminum cookware to the death of Rudolph Valentino, if I remember correctly, by a PR man, about six months after aluminum cookware came on the market.

I don't contest your interpretation of the air force remark, beyond what I have said previously.

My points are that it is part of a pattern of sloppiness and inaccuracy, which raises questions about his other statements that are more difficult to evaluate.

And, most important, this 1973 interview/monologue shows there were serious problems decades before the books by Ambrose that are being questioned now. Not once does whoever is conducting this "interview" actually ask Ambrose a question on camera, or challenge any of his remarks. Yet many of them are begging for clarification or contradiction. And then Ambrose gets listed as one of the primary sources on the documentary.

I suggest anyone interested in the history of WWII to watch this and judge for yourself. At first glance, it looks like here's this very smart guy. But on closer examination, it starts to look pretty weird, some guy throwing around all sorts of off the wall judgments.

It should be noted that the Ambrose "interview" is the opposite of the Truman oral biography, which is a constant give and take between Truman and Miller. It is the real thing, unlike the Ambrose concoction with Eisenhower, based on hundreds of hours of recordings over several years.

Miller: Winston Churchill has called the Marshall Plan "the most unsordid act in history."

Truman: Well, there wasn't anything unselfish about it. We weren't trying to put anything over on people. We were in a position to keep people from starving and help them preserve their freedom and build up their countries, and that's what we did.

[Note that Truman doesn't mention that this help was offered regardless of whether a country was a former friend or enemy, the key to the greatness of the plan.]

Miller: Mr. President, the plan called for expenditures of sixteen billion dollars. Didn't that cause a lot of concern in Congress?

Truman: Yes, it did, but it had to be done, so I called in all the favors I was owed, and we got it through ....

Sam Rayburn asks how much it will cost, and Truman tells him:

Truman: Well, his face got as white as a sheet, but I said to him, "Now, Sam, I figure I saved the people of the United States about fifteen, sixteen billion dollars with that committee of mine, and you know that better than anyone else.

" 'Now we're going to need that money, and we can save the world with it.'

"And he says to me, 'Harry, I'll do my damndest. It won't be easy, but you can count on me to help all I can.' And he did, too, and so did a lot of others in both parties. There wasn't anything partisan about any part of this or anything else where foreign policy was concerned. Not when I was in the White House there wasn't."

I can't recommend "Plain Speaking" too highly.
#28
Old 05-10-2011, 04:46 AM
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My source for the Churchill quote is President Harry S. Truman, in the source I cited in the Wikipedia entry, "Plain Speaking, An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman," by Merle Miller.
If the bit you quoted is your cite, then it's worth noting that your source is Merle Miller, not Truman. Truman doesn't say the phrase applies to the Marshall Plan, Miller does. Truman doesn't challenge the attribution, but doesn't necessarily prove anything.
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Old 05-10-2011, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Miller View Post
If the bit you quoted is your cite, then it's worth noting that your source is Merle Miller, not Truman. Truman doesn't say the phrase applies to the Marshall Plan, Miller does. Truman doesn't challenge the attribution, but doesn't necessarily prove anything.
I guess you don't know Harry Truman.

Read the book.
#30
Old 05-10-2011, 06:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Explat View Post
I guess you don't know Harry Truman.
Well, no, not personally. What's your point?
#31
Old 05-10-2011, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Explat View Post
I'm sorry, but Ambrose really doesn't have much credibility in my mind. I wonder why it took so long for people to catch on.
I'm sorry, but it may be a wonder that it took you so long to catch on, but most of the rest of us knew to take Ambrose's stuff with a boulder of salt, years and years ago.

If you want well-researched fiddly details, Ambrose is not your go-to guy. He's good at conveying his information in an easy-to-read way. For the Band of Brothers (and other) stuff, he's good for having a lot of primary sources to draw from -- but he's not good at verifying that those primary sources were necessarily accurate.

Which, of course, had already come up in this zombie thread from a year ago that you've randomly appended your OMGrant to.
#32
Old 05-10-2011, 11:56 AM
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If what Miller implies Truman agrees with what Churchill said is true, then he may well have said it twice. (One problem with the internet page I cited is that they never really disprove he said it about both). But he definitely said it about Lend-Lease, which is what Ambrose said he did.

Here's the text of the speech. April 17, 1945 on the death of FDR.

And indeed, I agree with Lightray. I'm merely bothered that if your going to criticize someone you should maybe do a bit more research yourself. Back then, the internet didn't have all these sources readily available. We are in a remarkable age now.
#33
Old 05-10-2011, 05:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Explat View Post
I have not been able to check the other numbers, perhaps someone else knows. But even so, nearly one in 10 of all Americans -- men, women and children -- served in the military during WWII. This Ambrose calls "the least mobilized."
Now, I'm not a fancy History PhD, but even I know that 'least' is a comparative, and that there was more than one country involved in World War Two. So it's kind of hard to say he's wrong without knowing what percentage of Russians, British, Germans and Japanese served in the military.

Now I don't have the numbers handy myself, but I'd be willing to bet good money that the US is going to come out with the lowest number.
At any rate, his general point -- that the US came out of WWII in far better shape than any other combatant -- is so obviously true that I find it hard to take seriously anyone who argues against it. Unless you can point to significant US civilian casualties (outside of the Merchant Marine), significant bombing or shelling damage to US cities, damage to US crops or farmland, or even above average amounts of hunger in the US during or immediately after the war.
#34
Old 05-10-2011, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Explat
3) The U.S. did not have an air force during WWII.
So it was formally called the "U.S. Army Air Forces" from 1941 to 1947. But to the guys in it (including my father and his brother), they just called it the "Air Force". Take a chill pill.
#35
Old 05-10-2011, 05:47 PM
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Ambrose was pretty will known for his numerous acts of plagiarism, so it doesn't surprise me that he was also a sloppy fact checker.
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