In This Review

History at War
History at War
By Noble Frankland
Giles de la Mare, 1999, 248 pp

In many countries, World War II elicited masterpieces of scholarship that were accessible to the lay public and shaped by personal wartime experiences; such work was also important in shaping strategic decisions after the war. Harking back to this tradition, this book discusses not the theory of military history but its practice. Together with distinguished diplomatic historian Charles Webster, Frankland wrote the British official history of strategic bombing during World War II before going off to head the Imperial War Museum in London. His latest book is a set of reflections on the writing of official history, its place in political debates, and its preservation and interpretation. Tart but occasionally generous, Frankland's contributions to official history were examples of integrity and courage combined with shrewd judgment and literary skill. The issues covered are alive in any country that wages war: how to ensure that a candid, comprehensive, and open account of military operations reaches the public, and how to create museums that can instruct without preaching.