Victor Davis Hanson has a worthwhile article on the impossibility of getting complete truth after a battle:
Even in daytime fighters do not perceive anything; indeed, nobody knows anything more than what is going on right around himself.
So the fifth-century B.C. military historian Thucydides commented on the confusion of battle on the heights above Syracuse (413 B.C.), and, indirectly, on the inability of historians such as himself to sort out the conflicting accounts provided by veterans of all battles.
Fear, panic, noise, dust, motion, all the rare stimuli that so overwhelm the everyday senses, combine with the vagaries of memory both to inflate and to diminish what happens in those rare brief seconds when men’s lives are won or lost. Such are the usual burdens of military history, both ancient and modern. When investigating the death of my namesake on Okinawa, or reconstructing some of my father’s 39 B-29 missions, I was struck by the difficulty in reconciling all the oral remembrances of the combatants, both with one another and with supposedly “official” histories of the theater.
The commendable tact of Steven Ambrose’s popular oral histories of the American soldier lay in his diplomatic treatment of first-hand accounts that simply could not be reconciled with one another â€” or with other criteria, such as official histories and the unyielding facts of weather, machines, or topography.
…and it’s just the start of a fascinating ride through millennia to discuss Kerry and Nemesis.
Good reading. It’s a great ride. I wish I knew what “epigone” meant.
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