Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The World Wars

I watched the first episode of THE WORLD WARS on the History Channel, "Trial By Fire", and I found it fascinating.  I'm a World War II buff, so I was looking forward to seeing it.  I'm certainly not an authority on the subject, so there were some surprising tidbits of information in the program, so that made it worthwhile.

The program begins with a message from President Obama.  He mentioned that the start of World War I was 100 years ago, something I hadn't realized.  It's incredible to think it was that long ago.  My grandfather was born in 1910, and I hadn't thought about the fact that he would be over 100 years old.  One note about the President:  all politics aside, I've never heard a more insincere sounding President.  To me, every time he speaks, he sounds like he's not being sincere, that he's just going through the motions.  This was just one example of that.

One thing I really didn't expect about this program is the dramatic recreations of the historic moments described, such as the battles, the encounters, and the people involved.  I tend not to like these things, and this one was no exception.  There's a lot of over-acting, and I really dislike some of the actors used to represent the historic figures.  There are actors representing young versions of Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, George Patton, Joseph Stalin, Douglas MacArthur, Benito Mussolini, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.  The actors for Hitler and Churchill are particularly hard to watch, as accurate as they may be.  Young Churchill is nothing like I expected.

The program's first scene is of the trench warfare during World War I, focusing on a gas attack on the Germans.  One soldier is trying to put his gas mask on, but it won't seal properly because of the length of his mustache.  He decides to just hold his breath until the gas dissipates, and he survives.  Not wanting to get caught in a situation like this again, he begins trimming his mustache on either side, leaving the iconic short mustache of Adolf Hitler.  We're then told this is the young Hitler.  I was surprised to learn that Hitler was a courier during the war.  Another fact that surprised me is that the US was the first to use mustard gas, which was horrible on the enemy soldiers.  It caused blisters and sores all over their bodies, and blindness.  Hitler was apparently gassed and spent time in the hospital.  Another incident was the time that an injured Hitler, during a German retreat, is confronted by a British soldier by the name of Henry Tandey, who had his gun pointed at Hitler.  Tandey couldn't pull the trigger, and Hitler walked away.  One can't help but speculate how history might have changed if Tandey had shot and killed the young Hitler then.

The scenes are interspersed with comments from various authorities on that era, including historians, authors, and biographers, in addition to several noteworthy figures, such as retired US Army General Stanley McChrystal, US Senator John McCain, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.  The program is narrated by Jeremy Renner, who does a really good job.

I'm looking forward to the next several parts of The World Wars, and recommend it for anyone interested in that era of history.  It's a pretty good program.

Have a great evening, everyone!

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