Friday, January 14, 2011

Other Books

Most of the information here at Write Away is about the Mercenaries trilogy (and if you have come here to investigate those excellent works, please scroll down a bit; you will find copious material). Just now I’d like to say a bit about two other books.

AND GLADLY TEACH, published in 2001, is a short novel (174 pp., 12-pt. type) about life at a fictitious boarding school. It is droll, risible, piquant, or, in a word, funny. It is satirical—sometimes acidulous, even mordant. It is not mainly about students, rather the faculty and administration; most events are seen through the eyes of Mr. Jones, a history teacher. It has sold about 250 copies and many readers have enjoyed it a lot, if I do say so myself. Why not find out for yourself? (There is an excerpt here; go to the entry of February 1, 2010.)

THE UNITED STATES CONSTABULARY, 1946-1952 (190 pp.) comprises my doctoral dissertation and three papers I wrote in grad school. I exhumed these and retyped them (making a good many syntactical changes—I write better now than I did thirty-five years ago) so as to make some tiny contribution to my profession. They are, of course, very serious (although the dissertation is probably the only scholarly treatise with a smiley-face in the notes—inserted when I retyped it, as my dissertation committee would not have approved).

The United States Constabulary was a force formed from several armored cavalry regiments to police the U.S. Zone in occupied Germany. It spent most of its time trying to suppress the black market and handling problems created by the presence, among the ruins of southern Germany, of tens of thousands of DPs (displaced persons, mostly Poles and Polish Jews).

The three papers are (1) The Blockade of Brest, 1803-1805, a study of the most important military operation in history in which nothing happened, (2) The Struggle For The North: Latvia In 1919, about the role of German mercenaries in securing the independence of that Baltic country in the aftermath of World War I, and (3) German Intelligence On The Eastern Front: An Assessment, which is an assessment of German military intelligence on the Eastern front in three major operations (Stalingrad, Operation Citadel, and the Russian June offensive of 1944).

If any of these items pique your interest, you may obtain them from me, or from, or from the publishers (AuthorHouse for A.G.T., Lulu for the other two).

Oh, prices, including postage: AGT is $15, USC is $14.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Evelyn Waugh On Educational Reform

I read Waugh’s Scott-King’s Modern Europe many years ago. The last paragraphs impressed me then; in the last couple of years they have impressed me even more. In fact I am tempted to have them embossed on a great banner that I can hang on my classroom door.

Mr. Scott-King, a fusty Latin teacher at an old English public school, returns from an excursion that, much against his will, has taken him to a European dictatorship and a Palestinian refugee camp (from which he was rescued by a former student). The Headmaster tries to persuade him to teach something more ‘useful’ than Latin, since the number of Latinists at the school is dwindling.

“You know,” the Headmaster said, “we are starting this year with fifteen fewer classical applicants than we had last term.”

“I thought that would be about the number.”

“I deplore it as much as you do. But what are we to do? Parents are not interested in producing the ‘complete man’ any more. They want to qualify their boys for jobs in the modern world. You can hardly blame them, can you?”

“Oh yes,” said Scott-King. “I can and do. I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world.”

“It’s a shortsighted view, Scott-King.”

“There, Headmaster, with all respect, I differ from you profoundly. I think it is the most long-sighted view it is possible to take.”

Evelyn Waugh
Scott-King’s Modern Europe, 1947