falklands war poetry
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Falklands War Poetry

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Falklands War Poetry

London - Arabstoday

Winston Churchill is credited with the observation that history is written by the victors, although the closest uttering by him on record is the wittier \"History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it\". But whoever said that might usefully have added \"likewise, film, literature and poetry\". For evidence of this, look no further than the aftermath of the two world wars, out of which flowed much blood on all sides, but creative writing, it seemed, from only one. There were exceptions. The novel Nothing New in The West (translated into English as All Quiet on the Western Front) was written in 1929 by Erich Maria Remarque, a wounded veteran of the German army, but it stands virtually alone. The Second World War launched an entire fleet of films about British and American heroism and sacrifice. Noel Coward\'s patriotic Royal Navy epic, In Which We Serve, was playing to enthusiastic audiences on both sides of the Atlantic by 1942, yet it was 1981 before the comparable German experience finally surfaced in Das Boot, Wolfgang Petersen\'s claustrophobic tale of life and death on a U-boat. This loss of the other side of the story - a product, in the case of a guilt-bound Germany, as much of self-censorship as cultural reparation demanded by the victors - has the effect of distorting the whole experience. Valuable lessons that might have been learnt remain untaught, leaving the mistakes of the past doomed to be repeated. Take, for example, the poetry of the First World War. Much art has its own time and place but there are few entire genres bound so closely to such a precise period as war poetry; the very phrase seems incomplete without the prefix \"First World\". This was, after all, the period during which the genre, fed and watered by the blood and disillusion of doomed youth, blossomed and burst forth among the poppies in the churned fields of Mons, Ypres, Arras and Loos. Yet who in the English-speaking world could name a German poet from the Great War? For every Rupert Brooke there must surely have been a young German soldier equally resigned to his own approaching end, yet his voice remains silenced. From Passchendaele to Port Stanley; and it is this imbalance that is addressed by two books published to mark the 30th anniversary of the anachronistic war fought between Argentina and Britain over the Falkland Islands, invaded on April 2, 1982, by the former and liberated by the latter on June 14 the same year. They are very different books, yet each complements the other in asking our thoughts to dwell on the humanity of the losers. One is the updated reissue of a book originally published in 1987 by the only full-time British journalist who remained in Argentina during the conflict. In The Land That Lost its Heroes, Jimmy Burns offers a unique view of the country under General Leopoldo Galtieri, whose dictatorship cynically exploited a historical claim to the \"Malvinas\" in a bid to win back popular support. It is a fascinating book, full of surprising detail and charting the ebb and flow of nationalist sentiment that was so easily manipulated by the junta - until, that is, the bodies started coming home. In England, Galtieri\'s rash gamble would offer an opportunity to a Thatcher government also in need of an injection of distracting nationalistic fervour. The general had reckoned without this - surely, Britain was a spent force - and so, thanks to an unhappy convergence of rival political imperatives, the die was cast for the death of close to 300 young Britons and twice as many Argentines. The National

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