"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 15, Number 12, December 2012
“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.
For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;
Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.
I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.
I will show partiality to no one. Nor will I flatter any man.”
“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”
Shakespeare’s King Lear
Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34
[“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God. The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.
AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com. You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address. Back issues sent on request. All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org
All articles are by the editor (unless otherwise noted) and are copyrighted but may be reproduced for distribution, provided the following conditions are met: 1. articles must be reproduced in unedited, unabridged form; 2. the writer must be properly credited; and, 3. such reproduction must be for free distribution only. Permission to distribute in any other form must be secured in writing beforehand. Permission for reproduction in Christian print periodicals will generally be given upon request.]
“Over the River and Through the Woods. . .”
As Christmas draws ever closer, my mind drifts back to Christmases past, indeed very long past (not unlike the first of Ebenezer Scrooge’s midnight encounters). When I was a boy in the late 1950s and through the 1960s, our family had a routine that we all but invariably followed on Christmas Eve. Rather than driving “over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house,” we drove about eight miles from Westlink, a housing development in far west Wichita (at least it was far west then) where we lived in a series of three different houses in those years, to my maternal grandparents’ house on University Street (as in Friends’ University) and scarcely a mile from Wichita’s downtown district. We always left home so as to arrive around 5:00 p.m.
The house was an ordinary white-painted bungalow (with a very small detached garage), built either in the 1910s or maybe 1920s, with just two bedrooms, one bathroom, a long and narrow front room and a tight kitchen with barely enough room for a table and four chairs. The house also had a full, low-ceiled, unfinished basement, with scary, open stairs, and at least six or seven hook latches on the upstairs side of the door (Grandma once heard about a burglar who broke in through a basement window, came up stairs and murdered a family in their sleep--she wasn’t about to let that happen to her!). In the basement, there was an old still-sooty coal bin off to one side with a heavy metal external hatch that hadn’t been used since they switched to gas heat years before. On the front (south) side of the house, there was a covered open porch and on the back a screened porch. The house had no air conditioning until the 1960s and then only a window unit.
What is remarkable is that my grandparents had seven daughters, all still at home when they moved from the farm to that house around 1935! I have no idea what the sleeping arrangements were back then, but no matter how you arranged things, it had to have been crowded. And as for getting a shot at using the bathroom--Grandpa, living in a house with eight females, didn’t have a chance. He did work all night in the pressroom at the Wichita Eagle newspaper (a job he held for 53 years, and never missed a payday), so I suspect he had access while the girls were off to school.
Not all of the seven sisters and their spouses lived in town in the 1950s and 60s, but five of them did, and not all of the 28 cousins lived in town, but more than half did, so, the whole crowd in that small house on Christmas Eve, counting sisters, spouses, cousins and grandparents regularly topped 25! Plus Grandpa’s little dog Trixie. This was the one whole-family get-together for the year. To seat and feed this mob required that whoever had folding chairs, card tables and TV trays (do they still make those?) brought them, and everybody brought stuff to eat--salads, vegetables, rolls, meat dishes, and desserts of all kinds.
Everyone except the smallest children went through a self-serve buffet line. We boys--meaning my older brother Frank, our cousin Kenny who was exactly between us in age (our mothers were identical twins), and myself (we terrorized whole neighborhoods in those days, or at least we thought we did)--were usually at or near the front of the line since we were “dying of starvation” by the time everything was spread out and ready to eat around 6 p.m. Grandpa--or occasionally one of my uncles who was a deacon--offered the prayer before we went through the line to fill our plates. Naturally enough, we boys got done quickly, returned in search of seconds (often before everyone had gotten through the line for the first time), were first to get desserts, and then, ever-so-conveniently, grabbed our coats and went outside for our annual Christmas Eve walk, while everyone else finished eating and the clean-up took place; we wanted no part of that.
We always walked around the block counter-clockwise, and we always walked around just one single block. But our progress was slow, our conversation abundant, and our delight immense. We walked and talked and laughed through the winter darkness and chill and generally whooped it up. If any of the neighbors took notice of us, they must have thought we were half-demented. In fifteen minutes, we were back at the house, refreshed by the cold night air, and ready to open our gifts.
We all sat down in the long living room, the adults in chairs, the children on the floor. Someone--an aunt or an older cousin--read the Christmas story from the Gospels, and as Grandma or an aunt played the piano, we sang “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Silent Night,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” and a variety of other Christmas carols. One song we kids didn’t like was “The First Noel.” On the chorus, our mothers would sing ”No-o-e-el, no-o-el, no-o-e-el, n-o-o-EEE-el,” singing and holding the “E” in the final “noel” on a very high note. We always cringed when we realized it was coming, made faces, and covered our ears.
Now for the gifts. The gifts from our grandparents were usually small, inexpensive items--a small book, a handkerchief or such; they couldn’t afford to be extravagant, with 28 grandchildren to buy for. We also got some small gift from our parents. Our grandparents sat side by side in their rocking chairs, Grandpa’s dog always on his lap. They were given all kinds of “practical” gifts by their children and grandchildren--socks, gift certificates to grocery stores, a shirt, and one year a small black-and-white television set (their first--around 1965). One time, my brother and I gave them a hand-written “gift certificate” for anything they wanted “free” from our large vegetable garden (Grandpa “redeemed” it the next summer, personally selecting several of our best cantaloupes). Grandpa always opened his packages with his pocket knife, cutting the tape or string. Every year there were also gifts for the dog.
It was all over by nine o’clock. After numerous good-byes, my family left, but
didn’t head straight home. We had
another stop--at my uncle (my dad’s brother) and aunt’s house in a housing
tract in the far northwest part of town.
Here were four cousins (including a boy a year younger than me) from
that side of the family, as well as our out-of-town grandparents who drove down
each year from
We always stayed there until midnight (by which time we had managed to sorely aggravate our parents), then were driven sleepy-headed the nine or so miles home. There would be more presents, and great food, the next day.
All the grandparents are gone, even long
gone. All the aunts but one are gone, as
are all the uncles but one. Even the
cousins have begun to pass away. The
little bungalow on University is still there, and visible from the west-bound
lanes of the main highway through
Fifteen Full Years
This, the 180th consecutive monthly issue of “As I See It,” marks fifteen full years of publication since we began in January 1998. For those 180 issues, we have written, at a quick estimate, some 350-plus articles (some of them quite extensive, including several detailed series of articles) on very wide-ranging subjects, reviewed approximately 350 books, and run quotations, some brief, some full-length articles, by perhaps a hundred and more different individuals. And not a few of our articles have been, with permission, reproduced by various print publications or posted to various blogs and web-sites. At times, the “barrel” of ideas has run perilously close to dry, and enthusiasm for the whole enterprise has occasionally flagged to the point of near-abandonment (my sole “compensation,” besides what I personally learn in the process, is the satisfaction I get from informing, persuading and sometimes entertaining the readership by what is published). But we press on.
Some background: with the advent of free internet mail service in the mid-1990s, I threw caution to the wind and decided to launch a free, monthly cyber-magazine. I’d been part of a small print subscription quarterly publication at the beginning of the ‘90s (circulation never reaching 200) and earlier, in the mid-1980s, was the assistant to the editor of a twice-monthly Christian publication with circulation in the thousands (where I was a researcher, writer, advertising manager, proof-reader, book reviewer, shipping clerk, lawn maintenance engineer and anything else the editor could think up for me to do!). I had also written articles for several other print publications, but had a great deal more I wanted to say and write than could or would ever appear in such publications. I could have continued writing for hoped-for publication in those places, but doing so always entailed the inevitable delays between writing and publishing (hey, I like “instant gratification” as much as the next guy), the occasional rejections (which I’ve always found to be real “downers), and the ever-present “danger” of being subjected to “bad” editing (trust me, it has happened more than once that someone altered--without notice--what I had written, and always to the detriment of the clarity and force of my arguments). Having my own publication immediately eliminated all these problems.
Our original editorial was our “mission statement”--
"As I See It" (AISI) will aim at quality, not quantity. I don't plan on wasting your precious time with trivialities or petty controversies, nor will I ride hobby horses or run a matter into the ground. I will frankly and, I hope, intelligently address important issues in the world of contemporary Christianity with some attention given to the culture and society in which we live. I will major on issues rather than personalities, though personalities sometimes must be addressed.
AISI will also major on good literature. In 28 years as a Christian, I have very greatly benefited by the reading of books and periodicals. Oftentimes, I have searched for years for good treatments of various subjects (e.g. the matter of wine in the Bible, or a biography of Calvin), not knowing were to look and knowing no one sufficiently well-informed to serve as a competent guide. If the reader can benefit from my reading and study and can be thereby directed to a book, an author, an article that will increase his understanding, improve his perspective, inform his opinion, or encourage his spirit, my intended purpose will have been met.
We have never had any photos, drawings, charts, maps, or graphics of any sort in AISI, focusing entirely on content rather than format. Our only possible claim on the reader’s attention is if our content is deemed worth the investment of the necessary time to read it. If so, we succeed; if not, we fail. Simple as that. Without any solicitation of subscribers (except at the very beginning), our readership has steadily grown in numbers and is currently at or close to its highest number ever.
I wrestled in my mind over what to name my cyber-magazine, and toyed with a number of names. Several good ideas had to be rejected since they were already “taken.” I finally settled on “As I See It” since it would indeed be my perspective, opinion and view-point that would control the content (I discovered a couple years into publication that there was or had been a column in a Christian monthly magazine called “As I See It” but by then, it was too late to make a change).
Our intended target audience was and is conservative, fundamentalist (in the original sense of the word) Christians, especially pastors, preachers, missionaries, professors, and seminary and college students, who are academically inclined and interested in increasing their store of information. We have tried to maintain some balance between articles that are technical, “popular,” and devotional, and do recognize that not everyone will want to read every article or review in each issue, though we think that there is something worthwhile for everyone in our target readership in every issue (and it sometimes surprises us which articles, reviews, and quotations elicit the greatest response).
Above all, our aim has been to be precisely correct in our quotations, documentation, and characterization of persons and viewpoints. We have not willfully or knowingly misrepresented anyone or “shaded” the “facts” to fit our perspective (and have issued 6 or 8 “corrections” when we subsequently discovered we had been in error regarding some detail). We have gotten our share of dissenting, occasionally angry, and sometimes even threatening letters over the years (commonly, the most heated are from those who are KJV-only zealots), but we have also gotten a good many letters expressing appreciation for timely information on Bible-related topics. Not a few question-bearing letters have served as the stimulus for our study of a particular topic or Bible passage, and the composition of a detailed account of our findings. I very much enjoy the research and writing involved in seeking to answer the genuine, sincere Bible-related questions of those who are open to be instructed.
While some of what we write is “ephemeral”--of interest only in the present day (such as our refutation of the nonsensical claims regarding Christianity made in the novel The DaVinci Code), on the other hand, some of what we have written is intended to remain worthwhile reading for the longer term: our character sketches of important Christian figures, histories of Bible translations in several languages, and more.
I had been a commuting missionary to Eastern Europe for almost seven years when As I See It was launched, having made something on the order of twenty or more trips there by then; I’ve now been traveling east for almost twenty-two years, and have just finished trip number sixty (I never imagined it would be that many when I began). Back then, we had one grandchild; now there are 13. Then, I was all of 45, now I discover that somehow, I’ve turned 60. I’ve used three different computers over those 15 years, and am poised to switch to a fourth (I’ve delayed doing so for several months; I hesitate to dive into that always-nightmarish process) At times I have found the writing / compiling and sending of 12 to 13 pages each month exhausting, but a year ago, I took on the additional task of writing a weekly gardening / nature column for a small local weekly newspaper. It serves as a refreshing distraction from other labors, and gives me a venue for stuff that would be largely out of place in AISI, and may be suitable material for a book in the near future.
Our future plans for AISI? Oh, we have them, far exceeding our energy level or time available to address them all. There are several topics I want to write about in detailed studies (Messiah and His Kingdom in the Psalms, for example, and a study of Biblical covenants and dispensations). And there are still thousands of books I want to read between now and my demise. And droves of excellent quotations to discover and pass on.
I suspect we’ll still be at it for some while longer.
Myopic Lingua-phobia Among American Preachers
Some weeks back, on a preachers’ discussion site, I shared an extended quotation from the great Greek scholar A. T. Robertson (1863-1934) on the extreme importance, even necessity, for Bible preachers to study and learn the Greek language, for the sake of their ministry. In part, that quote said--
The physician has to study chemistry and physiology. Other men may or may not. The lawyer has to study his Blackstone. The preacher has to know his Bible or the people suffer the consequences of his ignorance, as in the case of the physician or the lawyer. The extreme in each instance is the quack who plays on the ignorance and prejudice of the public.
It is true that the minister can learn a deal about his Bible from the English versions, many of which are most excellent. There is no excuse for any one to be ignorant of his English Bible, which has laid the foundation of our modern civilization. But the preacher lays claim to a superior knowledge of the New Testament. He undertakes to expound the message of the gospel to people who have access to the English translations, and many of these are his equal in general culture and mental ability. If he is to maintain the interest of such hearers, he must give them what they do not easily get by their own reading. It is not too much to say that, however loyal laymen are to the pulpit, they yet consider it a piece of presumption for the preacher to take up the time of the audience with ill-digested thoughts. The beaten oil is none too good for any audience.
Now the preacher can never get away from the fact that the New Testament was written in the Greek language of the first century A. D. The only way for him to become an expert in this literature of which he is an exponent by profession is to know it in the original. The difficulty of the problem is not to be considered. One will not tolerate such an excuse in a lawyer or in a physician. The only alternative is to take what other scholars say without the power of forming an individual judgment. Some lawyers and physicians have to do this, but they are not the men that one wishes in a crisis.
The preacher lets himself off too easily and asserts that he is too busy to learn his Greek Testament. In a word, he is too busy about other things to do the main thing, to learn his message and to tell it. Fairbairn says: 'No man can be a theologian who is not a philologian. He who is no grammarian is no divine.' Melancthon held that grammar was the true theology, and Mathias Pasor argued that grammar was the key to all the sciences. Carlyle, when asked what he thought about the neglect of Hebrew and Greek by ministers, blurted out: 'What!? Your priests not know their sacred books!?'
(These words are taken from Robertson’s superb little book, The Minister and His Greek New Testament, pp. 80-83; I quoted them at greater length in AISI 2:11).
At least one preacher on that discussion list took offense at the quote, thinking it merely a gratuitous slam at “English-only” preachers, and was intended only to denigrate them and their ministries. There was certainly no such intention on my part in posting the quote (rather, it was to stir others up to undertake this important study, or at least undertake some foreign language study), nor, certainly was that Robertson’s intention.
Robertson was writing chiefly with regard to seminary students--he taught Greek to more than 6,000 such students in his 46 years at Southern Baptist Seminary. And he was speaking about those who had the opportunity to learn Greek during their seminary training, but failed to do so, or having gone through the motions and secured the necessary credits to graduate, nevertheless wholly neglected this tool in their ministries. Obviously, a man's attainments are to be evaluated on the basis of his opportunities, and Robertson knew by direct experience many a man with great educational opportunities who nevertheless squandered them. On the other hand, there are those with no formal Bible schooling and no chance to formally study Greek, who nevertheless make much of their opportunities to read widely and gain a mastery of Scripture. Noel Smith (1900-1974), founder and editor for a quarter century the Baptist Bible Tribune, was one such individual (and he often said that one of his life's regrets was not mastering a foreign language. He had, to be sure, mastered English).
If a man has no opportunity to formally
study Greek (or Hebrew) then maybe the local college or junior college (or
even the local Christian school) offers Spanish, or German or French
(I learned the rudiments of Spanish by sitting one hour per week in the
beginning Spanish class in the Christian high school where I taught
history). And there is "Rosetta Stone" and other
computerized language learning programs which may be of some use all by themselves.
(incidentally, Stonewall Jackson, a devout Presbyterian, read the Bible daily
in Spanish--which he learned during the Mexican War,--and French, which he
Learning one or more of these (or other) languages--in fact, practically any language--will help immensely in sharpening one's linguistic acumen--including, nay, especially, his understanding of English,--and reading the Bible in a foreign language or two will cast a flood of light on the Scriptures and often correct numerous misapprehensions derived from reading just the English. For example, both the Spanish and the Romanian versions correctly show (agreeing with the Hebrew) that what God promised to preserve in Psalm 12:7 was NOT the "words" of v. 6, but the "poor" of verse 5; the antecedent of the pronoun “them” is grammatically ambiguous in English.
Americans generally have lingua-phobia: they are afraid of foreign languages and have a negative attitude toward the suggestion that they should--and can--learn one or more of them. We are a lot like my algebra students years ago who lamented: "I just can't do story problems." With that attitude, they in fact could not, and were defeated before they started (of course, by breaking down the story problems into their components, they discovered they in fact could do them; the same is true of languages). Virtually every preacher can at least learn the Greek alphabet (and Hebrew, too) in as little as an hour's time (I've taught it to many in just such limited time), enabling him to at least consult Greek and Hebrew dictionaries, and correctly pronounce Greek and Hebrew words, as well as begin to make some sense out the remarks of Greek scholars like Robertson, Alford or Lightfoot. A little knowledge is a big improvement over nothing. And learning the alphabet may well lead to further study.
In evaluating whether foreign language study is important, consider the following-
--Paul "spoke in tongues more than they all" (I Corinthians 14:18)--not the miraculous gift, but languages he had learned, including, at least, Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, and possibly Latin and one or more local dialects spoken in and around his native Tarsus.
--Without his being "trilingual" (Latin, Greek, Hebrew), Jerome could never have produced the Latin Vulgate Bible version, which is superior to any of the other early Bible versions in Greek (the Septuagint), Latin, Syriac, Coptic, Gothic, etc., and is in fact the single most important translation of the Bible ever made (see our articles, “The Latin Vulgate Bible Translation in Historical Perspective,” parts I & II, AISI 5:4, 5:5).
--The Reformation would have been essentially impossible without the extensive linguistic training of the Reformers, who all knew Latin and Greek and in many cases Hebrew as well--Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Tyndale, the Geneva translators, Reina and Valera, and more (poor Coverdale was limited to Latin and German, besides his native English!)
--John Brown of Haddington (1722-1787), an 18th century Scottish orphan boy who herded a neighbor's sheep, first learned Latin--while still in his early teens--with the help of his pastor, and then taught himself Greek from a borrowed Greek NT by comparing the Latin which he knew with the Greek which he didn't--the story is recounted in Robert Mackenzie, John Brown of Haddington (reprinted by BOTT in 1964), chapter 3, “The Acquisition of Languages” (pp. 29-35). How he acquired his first Greek NT (a gift from a university professor) is a remarkable tale all by itself. Brown went on to learn several other languages and became a noted theologian.
--The famous John Newton (1725-1807), "a slave of slaves", who had no formal schooling after age 7, when converted and called to preach, devoted himself first to Latin and then to Greek. And somehow his gaining such knowledge did not dampen his zeal (as some foolishly suppose language study will do) or prevent him from writing "Amazing Grace"!
--Unschooled William Carey (1761-1834) taught himself more than half a dozen languages while he tutored boys in his school, repaired leather goods, and prayed over his home-made world map; he learned many other languages after he arrived in India. He went on to be acclaimed during his lifetime as the world's greatest linguist and had a part in the translation of all or part of the Bible into 40 languages.
--Missionaries Adoniram Judson (especially) and J. Hudson Taylor, to note only two among many, also used their knowledge of Latin, Greek and Hebrew in their missionary and translation work.
--Until the 1800s, you could not get into
college (such as
--Today we would not (or should not) tolerate a career missionary who fails to "get the language" of the people he is ministering to. Among the first questions I ask of anyone who says God has called them to a particular country is: "What are your plans to study and learn the local language?" And if they are at all hesitant or befuddled by my question, I assure them that this is really the most important thing--after conversion and a definite call,--because without it, there is no communication of the Gospel (such failure to learn the local language is a not-so-subtle insult to the nationals whose language is de facto denigrated as "not worth learning").
I know myself that without good capacity in Greek and Hebrew (and Aramaic) on the one hand, and several modern languages on the other, it would be utterly impossible for me to write with authority about the accuracy or inaccuracy, the adequacy or inadequacy of Bible versions in English, German, Spanish, Romanian and more. And I would be often "stuck"--unable to answer my own questions (and those of others) about the meaning of a particular word or phrase or verse in the Scriptures. But with this linguistic knowledge, I can address any such question and can discover the truth (as far as it is discoverable). And there is a freshness in reading the Biblical text in the original that no translation or group of translations can fully convey.
So, while we are often disinclined toward it, and regardless of a deficiency of the education opportunities of some a generation or two in the past, learning a foreign language is today within the opportunities and grasp of almost everyone of average or better intelligence, and that opportunity can often include Greek and / or Hebrew studies. If such opportunity arises, we do well to grasp it and invest the time, energy and money necessary to make good progress in such studies. They are studies that, though requiring the most effort, also yield the most benefits.
Bacon and Fludd and the KJV?
I have communicated with you some in the past, and now have a couple
of questions concerning the KJV:
1) Who were the four or five others named to the KJV translation committee but did not participate or whose names do not appear on [the] list of the translators? Was Robert Fludd or Francis Bacon among them?
2) What influence did the two men named above have on the KJV, if any?
In my library, I was able to locate 4 "complete" lists and one incomplete list of the men credited with producing the King James Version revision of the Bishops' Bible--
1. Alexander McClure, The Translators Revived (New York: Charles Scribner, 1853), in the table of "Contents," pp. viii-ix, lists 49 names, followed by two supervisors of the work. He presents a biographical sketch (as far as his often quite limited information allowed) of each man in the body of his book.
2. Brooke Foss Westcott, A General View of the History of the English Bible (New York: Macmillan, 1916 printing of third edition revised by William Aldis Wright, 1905), pp. 112-113, lists 47 names, plus, in the footnotes, 4 other names.
3. Ibid., pp. 343-350, the reproduction of a 17th century document--circa 1630/40--supplied by the reviser of the 3rd edition (Wright), being the results of one man's attempt in that day to identify with certainty who the KJV translators had been. 43 names are mentioned, before the document breaks off in mid-sentence.
4. Gustavus S. Payne, The Men Behind the King James Version (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977 reprint of 1959 edition titled The Learned Men), appendix 1, pp. 184-5, lists 47 translators, one editor, and 9 others who are mentioned in some sources as having had a part in the work.
5. Adam Nicholson, The Power and the Glory
The above-noted lists are mostly identical, with the greatest amount of variation being in the sub-list of those who constituted the second Oxford group, which was assigned the revision of the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation. None of the lists mentions either Robert Fludd or Francis Bacon at all.
Robert Fludd (1574-1637) was trained in medicine and chemistry. The Dictionary of National Biography entry about him mentions nothing at all in connection with the KJV. What limited amount is said of his religious connections identifies him as a "Rosicrucian," an obscure cult of the era; certainly nothing is said in connection with any Bible translation work.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was trained in law, served in Parliament and later was an advisor to James I, but is most noted--indeed is rather famous for--his writings and philosophical works.
I find it rather remarkable that anyone would even imagine or suggest either Fludd or Bacon as possible translators of the KJV--neither having the training, background or standing to have taken part.
[In a subsequent letter, our correspondent listed several inter-net sites that make the absurd claim that Fludd and Bacon influenced, even greatly influenced, the wording in the KJV. This claim is patently preposterous--ed.]
World War II in the
Mediterranean 1942-1945 by Carlo D’Este.
This volume is one in a series, Major Battles and Campaigns, edited by John S. D. Eisenhower. At the time of publication, there were two other volumes in the series (one about the American Revolution, the other on World War I). This is a brief summary account, and since it covers the period after direct American involvement in the war in Europe began (that is, after the German occupation of most of North Africa and Greece, and beginnings of the British push back against the Nazis in Egypt), and since it says only a very limited amount about either the sea war or the air war in the target region, and nothing about the war in Greece or the Balkans, it would have been more precisely and accurately titled “The Allied Land War against the Axis Powers in North Africa, Sicily and Italy.”
The greatest amount of attention in the
voluminous literature on World War II (as is equally true with the “popular”
media of television and movies), has been on the fighting in Northern Europe
and the war in the Pacific, to the general neglect of lands bordering on the
Mediterranean Sea. Of course, American
involvement in armed combat against the Axis powers began with the November
1942 invasion of
Nowhere else in America’s involvement in
World War II did a single campaign last as long as the fight for control of
Italy--a full seventeen months, beginning in autumn 1943, and not ending until
the surrender of Germany in May 1945.
Allied prosecution of the war on the Italian front was hampered by
preparations for the Normandy Invasion; the Allied Armies were heavily depleted
in both equipment and manpower by those preparations. Further, when the invasion of
At times, the amount of incompetence and indecision displayed by Allied Generals, and the grossly inadequate training and equipping of Allied troops, especially early on in the war, make it somewhat surprising that the Allies were able to succeed at all.
Carlo D’Este, who has written a growing
shelf-full of books on World War II, is so far the only author able to catch
and hold my attention for an entire 9-hour flight across the Atlantic (his Patton: A Genius for War did just that
when I read it in March, 2005; reviewed in detail in As I See It, 8:4). Among
other works, D’Este has written much longer accounts of two major foci of this
present brief work: Bitter Victory: the
In as much as it is absolutely true that “Only the dead have seen an end to war” (George Santayana), it behooves the living to be informed regarding the causes of war, the potential means of honorable avoidance of it, its successful prosecution when unavoidable, the limits of what it can accomplish, and its aftermath.