Thursday, July 03, 2003
Sent: Tuesday, July 01, 2003 9:48 PM
Subject: What's up?
Nailing down #5 shortly. Any idea what you want to do for 6? BTW, I wrote the Ukrainian guy and got no response. If you have any contact with him, please see if he got my email. Thanks. Steve says you are writing a piece on the Turks and Mongols. What time period/battle? Projected completion date? Have a happy Fourth!
Hi Andy. I just want to say first of all that I love your enthusiasm for ATO, and I think you are doing a great job.
I am not sure about my topic for #6. I usually come up with subjects fairly easily, so I haven’t narrowed it down to anything. I was toying with something about one of the following:
* Folklore and modern warfare. In the face of military inferiority, we get stories of Iraqi farmers shooting down Apache helicopters with one shot from an old hunting rifle; we heard similar things from the Arab-Israeli wars where Syrians claimed to have shot down Israeli jets with crossbows. The psychological implications of these fantasies.
* Without God on our side. What happens when a force ginned up by religious fervor realizes that God ain’t coming to their aid.
The article I talked about with Steve was a piece on the Battle of Angora (Ankara) in 1402, which had very little in English written about it. I had some French and German secondary sources that I was prepared to mine for interesting details. But, alas, MHQ suddenly came out with a very nice article on this battle about a year ago, which pretty much stole my thunder and killed my desire to write about the engagement in any specific way.
For future stand-alone articles, I am thinking of:
* Further research into the question of Black Jack Pershing’s reported use of pig fat on bullets against Muslim guerillas in the Philippines insurgency. The urban legends site snopes.com has an excellent article on this subject but I think there is more primary research to be done in contemporary newspapers and newsmagazines. This one would have to wait until the fall when I have better access to the excellent periodical stacks at Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr, and Haverford, where I do the bulk of my research. I can’t promise that I will come up with anything, but I am very curious and am prepared to dig very deeply.
* The Arab conquests in trans-Saharan Africa that set up the chattel slavery culture that endured until the coming of the British and French in the nineteenth century. Because of various political biases, this is at the present a sort of historical black hole that I would like to examine in more detail.
* More generally, something about the centuries-long conflicts between the Ottomans and the Safavid Persians over what is now Iraq. Visually these battles must have been spectacular, but there has been precious little in English on them.
I really, really wanted to do something with Eugen’s article but it was so spare I knew I would essentially have to write it myself. Which I wouldn’t mind, but in order to do it I’d need some extensive research materials, and there is almost nothing in English on the engagements discussed in the article, and Eugen wasn’t forthcoming with Russian-language sources. So I reluctantly let it drop.