Military historian Antony Beevor is screenwriting for the first time, for a World War Two television series directed by Ridley Scott. The project has a high bar – Beevor hates “virtually all war movies” because of their inaccuracy, he told Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs in 2017. He didn’t always embrace academia: as a child, he thought the 14-years-olds discussing Proust at his boarding school should “get a life”, then proceeded to fail his English and history A-levels. He went to Sandhurst and joined the 11th Hussars. It was only the boredom of one posting to Wales that drove him to pick up a pen.
Studying the darkest moments in human history can take a toll, Beevor says. After writing about the mass rapes committed by the Red Army as it invaded Germany, he collapsed in tears in front of his editor. But the duty of the historian is to fight generalisations: “Not every Russian soldier was a rapist.” And there are “moments of joy and warmth even in the worst times”, he says – like Russian women massaging the frostbitten feet of German soldiers, “hoping that some mother somewhere might do the same to her child”.
🎵 Concerto in C major, Vivaldi
🎵 Union City Blue, Blondie
🎵 Trumpet Voluntary, Jeremiah Clarke
🎵 The Regimental Slow March of the Royal Hussars, Michael Haydn
🎵 Concerto No 1 in E minor, Chopin
🎵 Dreaming, Blondie
🎵 Mandolin Concerto in C major, Vivaldi
🎵 Trumpet Concerto in E flat major, Joseph Haydn
📕 Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev
🎁 A fishing rod and tackle
Listen to the full episode here.