Monday, June 29, 2009

Instead of silence

The curators of the National Army Museum might want us all to ignore the Kiwi connection to the Spanish Civil War, even as they sanitise the fascist general who started that war: Mark Derby, however, has other ideas. Derby's new book Kiwi Companeros tells the stories of the New Zealand soldiers, doctors, nurses, and journalists who took part in the 1936-39 war, as well as the stories of the foreign veterans of the war who settled in this country after the guns fell silent.

Derby discussed Kiwi Companeros on National Radio's Ideas programme last Sunday morning, and this week the Scoop Review of Books has published responses to the text by Simon Nathan and yours truly. Neither review is intended as a definitive treatment of Kiwi Companeros, and I hope that the comments box at the Scoop Review of Books will see other readers express their opinions. A vigorous, serious discussion would make a nice contrast to the mixture of revisionism and forgetfulness that has so far marked the National Army Museum's treatment of the Spanish conflict.


Blogger Jake said...

There was a guy doing a PhD in History at Auckland a few years ago on this very subject. But he dropped out.

2:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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The more money we spend, the more mine is worth Jack
The Bible says we’re a people under God,
Usin radar for radical Jihad
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The standards of my crew ain’t republicans dude
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I’m starting to see a modern day Jimmy Carter
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My views are rock solid, no chance you can break me”

4:04 pm  
Blogger ejh said...


11:44 pm  
Blogger Marty Mars said...

I have heard some of this series on NatRad and it was very moving. You just cannot beat a person telling their story, their way.

9:22 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maps your review could not be understood by most of the men who went to Spain. They were simple working class people who weren't interested in long words and theory. You are just complicating things when what we need is a simple powerful message.

9:31 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also why are you always going about poetry. who cares what WH Auden thinks. he wasn't fighting now was he! why don't you quote the fighters not the poets!

9:34 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Jake, at the top of this thread.

That former PhD candidate is Michael O'Shaughnessy who gets a fulsome acknowledgement in my book for his groundbreaking research into International Brigades archives held in Moscow and only recently made available to outsiders. You're right that he seems to have dropped, or at last suspended, his doctoral research, and he was extremely generous is passing on his findings to me for my own very different project.

Michael's now a career diplomat currently based at the NZ Embassy in Seoul, although he's back here temporarily and in fact he dropped in to see me over the weekend. I think he feels reasonably satisfied with the outcome of his academic work.

Mark Derby

11:19 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephen Oliver on the Poet as a Fraud:
You must first recognise your man. I say man because the poet is emotionally an androgyne, and I nominate the male gender because, traditionally, this is where the greater number of poetasters, poseurs and confidence tricksters prevail. He is that bookish academic intent upon building verbal monuments to himself and overcoming a deprived South Auckland childhood.
No, our man is the quintessential modern man and is, quick as a jack rabbit. Wham bam thank you ma‘m!
The best thing that might come his way is the middle class expectation of measurable success, prestige and political opportunity offered him by a sociology degree and appointment to an English department in a leading city university. Better than the dole isn’t it but they will expect you to do some work.
He doesn’t consider himself a seer, but instead - something of a missionary, his dutiful obligation to impart knowledge and learning to the undergraduate - and in some politically incorrect instances, to the female undergraduate. There are to be observed, therefore, innumerable variations on a theme.
The people you admire laugh at you behind you back. Turn quickly you will catch them doing it.
Sound like you Scott – close to the bone?

1:37 pm  
Blogger Jake said...

Mark -- It's good to hear Michael is doing well. I haven't heard much of him since he moved to Wellington. And it's also good to know he was involved in the production of your book (although, as you say, his was a very different angle).

9:37 am  
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9:19 pm  
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4:00 am  

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