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Antony Beevor Stalingrad

History of The Second World War
Stalingrad and Berlin - The Downfall, 1945

The award-winning military historian Antony Beevor was born in England in December 1946 and when he was small suffered from a condition called Perthes disease, which makes the hipbone go soft, with the result that medical treatment, between the ages of four and seven, required that he go on crutches.

His second level couurse of education was pursued at Winchester College where he failed his final A-level course due to what he regards as his own 'undirected bloody-mindedness'.
From Winchester Beevor went to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, where he studied under Sir John Keegan who was himself a recognised military historian.
A regular officer 1967-70 with the 11th Hussars, he left the Army to write. He has had four novels published beginning with Violent Brink in 1975, and six works of non-fiction. They include The Spanish Civil War (1982), Crete — The Battle and the Resistance (1991), which was awarded a Runciman Prize, and Paris After the Liberation, 1944-1949 (written with his wife Artemis Cooper - 1994).

These early works gained some critical acceptance and seemed to offer some hope of material rewards but it was with Beevor's Stalingrad, first published in 1998, which won the first Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson Prize for History and the Hawthornden Prize for Literature in 1999 that his celebrity as a military historian was firmly established.
The British edition, a number one bestseller in both hardback and paperback, has so far sold over half a million copies. The book is also published in the United States and will be appearing in twenty-four foreign editions. Worldwide sales exceed 1.1 million.

It was not, in fact, his own idea to endeavour to produce Stalingrad but had the subject suggested to him by a literary editor of some of his earlier works. Antony Beevor has said of this work that the tactical aspects of the story had been very well covered previously but that in terms of his own approach to the subject 'The challenge was to put back in the detail of human experience'.

It is such reconstructions that Beevor has made his signature. Few describe with more sympathy and pathos the quotidian business of soldiering: the lore, the rituals, the sorrows, the joys - even the jokes.

"Those surrounded by danger do become intensely superstitious," Beevor explains. "Outsiders sometimes fail to understand that armies are very emotional organisations; on the surface is discipline and hierarchy but the emotions boiling underneath are terribly strong."

"Even the German army in its most murderous mode in Russia was appallingly sentimental.
Appallingly because while the troops were celebrating Christmas in Stalingrad in 1942 - and being terribly sentimental about their camaraderie, loyalty and their families at home - they were busily starving to death Russian prisoners, who were reduced to cannibalism."

Another of his works considering the Second World War entitled Berlin – The Downfall 1945, published in 2002, was accompanied by a BBC Timewatch programme on his research into the subject. The book will also be appearing in twenty-four foreign editions. It has already been a No. 1 Bestseller in a number of countries apart from Britain.

Antony Beevor was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French government in 1997 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. He was the 2002-2003 Lees-Knowles lecturer at Cambridge. In 2003, he received the first Longman-History Today Trustees’ Award. He is a member of the management committee of the Society of Authors and the London Library. He is also Visiting Professor at the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck College, University of London. He lives in London with his wife and two children.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson

RALPH WALDO EMERSON (1803-1882) was, in his time, the leading voice of intellectual culture in the United States. He remains widely influential to this day through his essays, lectures, poems, and philosophical writings.

In the later eighteen-twenties Ralph Waldo Emerson read, and was very significantly influenced by, a work by a French philosopher named Victor Cousin.

A key section of Cousin's work reads as follows:
"What is the business of history? What is the stuff of which it is made? Who is the personage of history? Man : evidently man and human nature. There are many different elements in history. What are they? Evidently again, the elements of human nature. History is therefore the development of humanity, and of humanity only; for nothing else but humanity develops itself, for nothing else than humanity is free. …
… Moreover, when we have all the elements, I mean all the essential elements, their mutual relations do, as it were, discover themselves. We draw from the nature of these different elements, if not all their possible relations, at least their general and fundamental relations."
Introduction to the History of Philosophy (1829)

Even before he had first read Cousin, (in 1829), Emerson had expressed views in his private Journals which suggest that he accepted that Human Nature, and Human Beings, tend to display three identifiable aspects and orientations:
Imagine hope to be removed from the human breast & see how Society will sink, how the strong bands of order & improvement will be relaxed & what a deathlike stillness would take the place of the restless energies that now move the world. The scholar will extinguish his midnight lamp, the merchant will furl his white sails & bid them seek the deep no more. The anxious patriot who stood out for his country to the last & devised in the last beleagured citadel, profound schemes for its deliverance and aggrandizement, will sheathe his sword and blot his fame. Remove hope, & the world becomes a blank and rottenness. (Journal entry made between October and December, 1823)

In all districts of all lands, in all the classes of communities thousands of minds are intently occupied, the merchant in his compting house, the mechanist over his plans, the statesman at his map, his treaty, & his tariff, the scholar in the skilful history & eloquence of antiquity, each stung to the quick with the desire of exalting himself to a hasty & yet unfound height above the level of his peers. Each is absorbed in the prospect of good accruing to himself but each is no less contributing to the utmost of his ability to fix & adorn human civilization. (Journal entry of December, 1824)

Our neighbours are occupied with employments of infinite diversity. Some are intent on commercial speculations; some engage warmly in political contention; some are found all day long at their books … (This dates from January - February, 1828)

The quotes from Emerson are reminiscent of a line from another "leading voice of intellectual culture" - William Shakespeare.
There's neither honesty, manhood, nor good fellowship in thee.
William Shakespeare: Henry IV (Pt 1), Act I, Scene II

Plato, Socrates and Shakespeare endorse a 'Tripartite Soul' view of Human Nature. Platos' Republic

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The preparation of these pages was influenced to some degree by a particular "Philosophy of History" as suggested by this quote from the famous Essay "History" by Ralph Waldo Emerson:-
There is one mind common to all individual men...
Of the works of this mind history is the record. Its genius is illustrated by the entire series of days. Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history. Without hurry, without rest, the human spirit goes forth from the beginning to embody every faculty, every thought, every emotion, which belongs to it in appropriate events. But the thought is always prior to the fact; all the facts of history pre-exist in the mind as laws. Each law in turn is made by circumstances predominant, and the limits of nature give power to but one at a time. A man is the whole encyclopaedia of facts. The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn, and Egypt, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, America, lie folded already in the first man. Epoch after epoch, camp, kingdom, empire, republic, democracy, are merely the application of his manifold spirit to the manifold world.