I don't always, or indeed usually, agree with Max Hastings, but today he discusses a book by the Dutch-Israeli military historian Martin van Crefeld, the core viewpoint of which, as presented by Hastings, is one I share: for unilateral withdrawal by Israel from the occupied territories, behind the pre-1967 frontiers.
Ten days ago I attended an event in Edinburgh which went under the title of 'The Challenge' (see here). The challenge in question was issued by Drew Scott to 15 or so of his friends, and it required each of us to submit to him a list of 10 songs that in our view 'changed the face of rock music'. There were rules: like only one song per group or artist, and it didn't have to be your favourite by that group or artist but rather the one you thought to be 'their seminal contribution to the genre'.
Finally, Drew wasn't obliged by any of our nominations, taken either singly or together. He was the sole judge. For this privilege he paid an extremely heavy price on the night, with questions and, why, even some cavilling, not to speak of loud objections, about some of his judgements. Yet it must also be said that Drew put an enormous effort into these sometimes finely-balanced judgements and therefore deserved and received - well, after a fashion - the thanks of all concerned.
Starting today, I'll be bringing you the results of this whole process. In the first of a series of posts, I give you the list of winning songs. After that, you'll get Drew's reasons for having chosen as he did. I could quarrel with some of what follows - as I may have done once or twice on the night. (He definitely should have had 'That'll Be The Day' rather than 'Peggy Sue'. And no 'Rock Around The Clock'?! Well...) But perhaps I should stand back and let everyone make up their own minds.
The 40 Most Influential Songs in Rock
1 Rolling Stones, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (1965)
2 The Beatles, Please Please Me (1963)
3 Elvis Presley, Heartbreak Hotel (1956)
4 Bob Dylan, Like a Rolling Stone (1965)
5 Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze (1967)
6 Led Zepplin, Whole Lotta Love (1969)
7 The Beatles, Strawberry Fields Forever (1966)
8 The Who, My Generation (1965)
9 Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat (1967)
10 Robert Johnson, Cross Roads Blues (1937)
11 Chuck Berry, Maybellene (1955)
12 The Byrds, Eight Miles High (1966)
13 Bob Marley, Stir it Up (1972)
14 Muddy Waters, Mannish Boy (1955)
15 The Beach Boys, Good Vibrations (1966)
16 Pink Floyd, Astronomy Domine (1967)
17 Prince, Little Red Corvette (1983)
18 David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust (1972)
19 Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK (1977)
20 Pixies, Cactus (1988)
21 Marvin Gaye, What's Going On? (1971)
22 MC5, Tonight (1970)
23 Joy Division, Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980)
24 The Kingsmen, Louie, Louie (1963)
25 Link Wray and the Raymen, Rumble (1958)
26 The Ramones, Blitzkreig Bop (1976)
27 Grand Master Flash, White Lines (Don't do It) (1983)
28 Run DMC and Aerosmith, Walk This Way (1986)
29 Kraftwerk, Autobahn (1974)
30 Crosby, Stills and Nash, Guinnevere (1969)
31 James Brown, Please, Please, Please (1963)
32 The Doors, Light My Fire (1967)
33 Buddy Holly, Peggy Sue (1958)
34 Jackie Brentson, Rocket 88 (1951)
35 The Miracles, Shop Around (1961)
36 Stone Roses, Made of Stone (1989)
37 Nirvana, Smells Like Teen Spirit (1991)
38 The Shirelles, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (1960)
39 Steppenwolf, Born to be Wild (1968)
40 Bert Jansch, Backwater Side (1962)
You might like to know that I, personally, scored 50%. Five of my own ten choices made it on to Drew's list, appearing there as numbers 1, 3, 4, 15 and 37. (He should have had 'That'll Be The Day'.)
Jody Biehl reports on a new book by historian Goetz Aly:
A well-respected German historian has a radical new theory to explain a nagging question: Why did average Germans so heartily support the Nazis and Third Reich? Hitler, says Goetz Aly, was a "feel good dictator," a leader who not only made Germans feel important, but also made sure they were well cared-for by the state.
To do so, he gave them huge tax breaks and introduced social benefits that even today anchor the society. He also ensured that even in the last days of the war not a single German went hungry. Despite near-constant warfare, never once during his 12 years in power did Hitler raise taxes for working class people. He also - in great contrast to World War I - particularly pampered soldiers and their families, offering them more than double the salaries and benefits that American and British families received. As such, most Germans saw Nazism as a "warm-hearted" protector, says Aly, author of the new book "Hitler's People's State: Robbery, Racial War and National Socialism" and currently a guest lecturer at the University of Frankfurt. They were only too happy to overlook the Third Reich's unsavory, murderous side.
Financing such home front "happiness" was not simple and Hitler essentially achieved it by robbing and murdering others, Aly claims. Jews. Slave laborers. Conquered lands. All offered tremendous opportunities for plunder, and the Nazis exploited it fully, he says.
Aly cites secret Nazi files showing that from 1941-1943 Germans robbed enough food and supplies from the Soviet Union to care for 21 million people. Meanwhile, he insists, Soviet war prisoners were systematically starved.
Aly's theory is not only fascinating for its brazenness, but also for the ruckus it is causing in Germany, where lately the trend has been to accept that Germans, too, suffered under Hitler and under the Allied bombing raids at the war's end. Aly is now negating much of that suffering, insisting that every single German benefited from Hitler's culture of killing.
Germans are... starting to talk about their own suffering during the war, particularly during the relentless Allied bombing of German cities such as Dresden. Aly accepts such suffering as truthful, saying talking about it shows that Germans have made advances from the shame-faced decades just after the war when no German academic could look at the war objectively. The question, he says is, "how do you relegate that suffering? We were also victims of our own aggression."
The important thing, he says is that German perspectives continue to evolve. He sees his book as an important part of that process.
No sooner are the words out of my mouth - about winning Labour the election (previous post) - than my attention is drawn to this: the Conservative Right opening a new front in the run-up to the general election, blogging 'social conservatism', breaking the power of the broadcast media, that sort of thing. (Thanks: BC.)
I don't much get involved in arguments about the effectiveness of blogs in achieving this, that or the other, because I don't have a clear view, much less a researched conclusion, on how effective or otherwise blogs generally are. I'm vaguely familiar with one or two of the more widely-canvassed claims about blogging successes, and that's it. I was surprised, therefore, to find normblog credited with the following modest accomplishment. The piece is from the Wall Street Journal for February 21 and is not online (except maybe to subscribers). I only know of it because the paper version was sent to me by a friend. Under the heading 'School Daze':
Score one for European bloggers in the fight against the Old World's not-so-subtle anti-Americanism. On Feb. 4, Norman Geras drew attention on his Internet site to the text that the language center at Holland's University of Leiden was using for its English proficiency test.
Titled "Idiot Nation," it identifies the U.S. as the "Dumbest Country on Earth"... [etc. - see here]
Once news of this test spread around the Net the past two weeks, the university withdrew it. [Also here.]
Well, I dunno... Next up, let's see if I can win Labour the election.
This is Zimbabwe is the new blog of Sokwanele-Zvakwana. They describe themselves thus:
Sokwanele-Zvakwana is a peoples' movement, embracing supporters of all pro-democratic political parties, civic organizations and institutions. Sokwanele- Zvakwana will never aspire to political office. [It] is a peoples' force through which democracy will be restored to the country and protected jealously for future generations to ensure that Zimbabweans will never be oppressed again.