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24 Historically Speaking November/December 2005 He had just published his wonderful book on the Franco-Prussian War. I try to visit the battlefields ofthat war once every year, and I take Howard's book with me. That book, written in the mid-1960s, has aged so very well. It still delights me as much now as when I first read it. So I was enormously influenced by him, and I was lucky enough to have him as an external examiner when I did my doctorate. The second person who has influenced me is someone who is far less well known, though he ought to be equally well regarded. His name is Christopher Duffy, and he taught military history at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst when I was there. He earned a doctorate from Oxford, and he is an old-fashioned scholar, with an extraordinary ability to read almost all European languages. He has produced a stunning series of books, concentrating mainly on fortification and the armies of the 18th century. One ofthe delights of working at Sandhurst—it had numerous "undelights " as well—was being able to chat with Christopher over coffee each morning and to pick that massive brain of his. I am never ashamed to admit that throughout my career I have depended hugely on the wisdom of my elders and betters. Nowadays it's my own graduate students who stimulate me with great ideas. People ask why I don't make my living entirely by my pen, and I respond that I teach because I love it and because it brings me into contact with distinguished colleagues and bright students. Yerxa: What are you working on now? Holmes: Sahib is finished and by the time this interview appears it will be in print. And it will look very much like Redcoat and Tommy: a thematic treatment of the British soldier, this time in India, 1750-1914. By the British soldier , I mean British mercenaries working for Indian princes, the British East India Company's officers and men, and regular army regiments serving in India. I hope to finish very soon a book about Iraq. This is not a history of the Iraq War or Richard Holmes's views on the war; this is a book about 650 men in a battalion ofthe Princess ofWales's Royal Regiment in a hot and steaming Iraqi town for six months doing a particular job. It is based partly on my own observation. But since I was only there for a short time, it is based far, far more on what these soldiers have written. I have private accounts from the battalion commander down to private soldiers, who would not ordinarily see themselves as literary types, talking about this strange sort of War where you are delivering humanitarian supplies on one block, enforcing the peace on another block, and fighting high-intensity War on a third block. The book is an anatomy of a single battalion in a single bit of Iraq at a particular point in our history. And I'm writing it because I think they deserve to be written about. The surprise for me and some of the elder members of the battalion—people like the company sergeant majors and company commanders—was how good the Play Station generation is. These are the guys that before they were in the army used to cause trouble on the street corners, wear hoodedjackets, etc. But when you see them in Iraq, they are magic. And the older soldiers wanted me to relay how good, how comradely, how brave, how restrained these young soldiers are, and how much their story deserves to be told— which is why I am writing the book. Is the European Union Really in Crisis? George Ross For the European Union "crisis" is almost a way of life, given the EU's creaky institutions, powerful but faceless bureaucracy, and chronic wrangling between member states. It is also addicted to brief summits where leaders face hard deadlines to agree or fail over huge decisions, creating a rhythm ofperiods of mysterious opacity punctuated by frenetic high-level bargaining . Still, what happened in late spring 2005 is so extraordinary...


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