Author of Stalingrad, and of 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 education was completed at Winchester College
where he failed his 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
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.
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.
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."
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.
Popular European History pages
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.