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Cliches in Historical Fiction

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kodiakblair
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Post by kodiakblair » Thu April 4th, 2013, 10:22 pm

Divia i couldn't agree more. I'm sick of these young heros becoming
great warriors after 5 minutes. It takes a certain mindset to fight
something the Top Brass know. These youngsters pick up a sword
or a gun and have a grasp of tactics Hannibal would be proud of.
It's just nonsense same as the older more experienced men deferring
to them. Now young people can be taught to fight witness the dreadful
situation in certain African Nations. Brutalised, Drugged and Scared none
of these poor kids will get the girl in the end sadly. In WWII about 20%
of men fired their weapon. This was seen as a problem and training was
improved and by Vietnam 90% did. It took an awful lot of work to achieve
that.
Same with injury i have the feeling some writers watched too many westerns.
All those flesh wounds shrugged off. Head wounds are the worst, very rarely
is anyone seriously hurt. I read one where the hero was knocked out at
least three times in one book with no ill effects. One even had trepanning done and got back in the fray after a short while.

There must have been a glut of sociopathic geniuses with the constitution
of an Ox in the past.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu April 4th, 2013, 11:56 pm

[quote=""kodiakblair""] In WWII about 20%
of men fired their weapon. This was seen as a problem and training was
improved and by Vietnam 90% did. It took an awful lot of work to achieve
that.
[/quote]

Kodiak, that statistic is from a completely fabricated study by S.L.A. Marshall that has since been debunked. I know he wanted to believe that troops were reluctant to kill, but the simple fact is that when other people are trying to kill you, survival instinct kicks in.

And there are many millennia of military carnage to prove the point.

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Fri April 5th, 2013, 2:29 pm

[quote=""MLE""]Kodiak, that statistic is from a completely fabricated study by S.L.A. Marshall that has since been debunked. I know he wanted to believe that troops were reluctant to kill, but the simple fact is that when other people are trying to kill you, survival instinct kicks in.

And there are many millennia of military carnage to prove the point.[/quote]

Agreed. And not to mention you might just be trigger happy (scared you start shooking at everything)if you are out in the woods somewhere and the bushes start to move. ENEMY!!! When really its a rabbit or something.
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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Fri April 5th, 2013, 3:39 pm

The PTSD war veteran has reached epidemic proportions in fiction these days. I do expect war to leave scars, but when PTSD manifests itself in the same dramatic fashion for every war veteran you come across, it needs to be re-examined. Too often it's being used to create drama or to replace any kind of character development.

Best friend mortality is quite high in war fiction. The war hero often loses his best friend near the beginning (to kickoff the drama) or near the end (as a final dramatic moment). When watching movies (as well as reading fiction) hubby and I can usually predict who is going to live and die. The suspense therefore comes down to not if but when and under what circumstances.

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Fri April 5th, 2013, 3:45 pm

[quote=""Ludmilla""]The PTSD war veteran has reached epidemic proportions in fiction these days. I do expect war to leave scars, but when PTSD manifests itself in the same dramatic fashion for every war veteran you come across, it needs to be re-examined. Too often it's being used to create drama or to replace any kind of character development.

Best friend mortality is quite high in war fiction. The war hero often loses his best friend near the beginning (to kickoff the drama) or near the end (as a final dramatic moment). When watching movies (as well as reading fiction) hubby and I can usually predict who is going to live and die. The suspense therefore comes down to not if but when and under what circumstances.[/quote]


Both are excellent points Ludmilla!

There are some people who come outta war just fine. There are some who have experience horrible things but do not talk about it.

And the best friend dying thing is a bit old.

Or shall we extend it to "My brother died and now I'm gonna show those guys what for!" And then brother enlists to kill off the enemy.
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kodiakblair
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Post by kodiakblair » Fri April 5th, 2013, 6:21 pm

[quote=""MLE""]Kodiak, that statistic is from a completely fabricated study by S.L.A. Marshall that has since been debunked. I know he wanted to believe that troops were reluctant to kill, but the simple fact is that when other people are trying to kill you, survival instinct kicks in.

And there are many millennia of military carnage to prove the point.[/quote]

I'm aware of S.L.A Marshall's position but agreed with a lot Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman had to say in ON KILLING
The Psychological Cost of Learning
to Kill in War and Society. In fact the Marshall report is one of the first topics dealt with.
I also don't subscribe to the Survival Instinct idea. The spread of street crime almost proves this. When confronted with violence the majority are shocked and comply. Then they have to listen to " If that was me I would have done X Y Z " mostly from folks who haven't been in the situation. Telling yourself " It's not worth getting killed over X Y Z ". Granted some fight back Headlines of " Grandmother foils robber " compare them to the all too often " Victim was treated for ". Violence is an alien concept in everyday life, people cannot comprehend it's actually happening to them. Flight is the common instinct. The cornered rat idea a rarity the process to go mentally from escape to attack poles apart.
Revenge is often talked about and when acted out generally excessive. The build-up to gear oneself to act to great to control. The mindless attack has it's merits but the experienced fighter usually rides it out until The Mistake then they end it.

We have different opinions I think.

Yours K.B

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
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Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri April 5th, 2013, 7:28 pm

KB, I think that the difference in our opinions comes more from a different experience. Although mine is vicarious, I spend a lot of time with people from the undeveloped world. Violence is unusual here in the first world, and so we tend to imagine that this is a normal state. But in Rwanda, Kenya, Palestine, Pakistan, Iran, Peru, and many another place on the globe where someone who writes the 16th century would do well to research, violence IS a normal state of affairs.

Sadly, that is the usual state of humankind, whenever resources are scarce and security is precarious. Just look at what happened in the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina.

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kodiakblair
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Post by kodiakblair » Fri April 5th, 2013, 9:51 pm

I was of course meaning the developed world. Though I would not propose that because violence occurs in the developing world the people Are violent. Notice the populace flee if they can when outbreaks happen or they are caught up in it. In some cases quite often the men have to go into hiding else they are forced into fighting by one side or the other. No choices given there I'm afraid.
As for the Mob Rule effect see link below.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/se ... trina.usa3

I noticed " unreported " which is not to say never happened. There are always Scum watching for opportunities to strike. It was a thing I saw in fights when they were breaking up someone always sneaked in for what we call A Free Dig. Would never fight themselves but if they could hit somebody and not get caught never missed the chance. Like I said Scum.

I kind of drifted off topic here my beef was the untried hero who fights better than everyone, becomes a leader instantly , and has the plan to beat the bad guys. All this courtesy of the father he never knew type thing. I should have just stuck to that.

Cheers K.B

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri April 5th, 2013, 10:37 pm

Interesting article. And I have to agree that the press make everything much worse. But my info on Katrina comes from Margie, my young friend who was sent there with her platoon from Ft. Bragg. She had just come back from her second hitch in Iraq, and she said the sense of menace was far worse in New Orleans.

Margie is not a newcomer to war -- she spent her first 12 years in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and when she came here, she and her siblings used to hit the floor every time a car backfired. (My friend, who adopted them, was completely baffled the first few times she saw them do this.)

But perhaps her experience was more because she is a woman and black. According to Margie, black men in America are much more disrespectful to their women than Ethiopian men.

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Sat April 6th, 2013, 9:54 am

[quote=""MLE""]KB, I think that the difference in our opinions comes more from a different experience. Although mine is vicarious, I spend a lot of time with people from the undeveloped world. Violence is unusual here in the first world, and so we tend to imagine that this is a normal state. But in Rwanda, Kenya, Palestine, Pakistan, Iran, Peru, and many another place on the globe where someone who writes the 16th century would do well to research, violence IS a normal state of affairs.

[/quote]

I recall my late father in law talking of the everyday violence in his early childhood life which was spent in the 1920's among the impoverished of London's East End. His view was that society had always been violent and he would cite incidents from his childhood to bolster that detail. And also the much more pragmatic approach to life and holding it more cheaply. He used to earn coppers for himself as a boy by drowning the neighbourhoods unwanted litters of puppies and kittens. His uncles were bare-knuckle fist fighters. Everyone carried a knife. His grandma used to beat up his grandad, once knocking him through the wall of their shanty house! But his experience was very different to that of my dad - similar era, raised as prosperous working class with food on the table every day, a comfortable life by comparison, and a scholarship place at grammar school. One size definitely doesn't fit all.

KB - totally agree re your original point :)
Also the James Bond style hero who manages to come back from every trauma even though you know in reality he'd be dead. I read one not so long ago set in the 16thC where one of the characters had been tortured and shot in the thigh, but still managed to conduct a daring rescue of a fellow prisoner by climbing a rope and then fighting off the guards. Even Daniel Craig couldn't have managed that one!
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Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

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Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

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