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By Angus Calder

Images of conflict and its commemoration are a daily presence in modern tradition, from the embedded reporter within the box to the final put up on the Menin Gate.  Disasters and Heroes: On battle, reminiscence and Representation revisits campaigns from the plains of Troy to fresh occasions within the Balkans, studying how wars are represented and remembered.  Angus Calder exhibits how the 'facts'of struggle are remodeled into myths that later responses to warfare, and the way the development of reminiscence starts off with wartime occasions themselves.
Beginning with a bit dedicated to struggle memorials and the general public remembrance of warfare, corresponding to D-Day commemorations, the essays gathered in Disasters and Heroes then examine the lived event of conflict for 'ordinary' humans, whereas the ultimate part bargains with literary illustration of conflict, from The Iliad to T.E. Lawrence and directly to Christa Wolf's CassandraDisasters and Heroes is a thought-provoking assortment facing problems with significant importance which contemporary occasions have made painfully topical.

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Forced back in 1914–18, Germany, under Hitler, tried again and was more savagely defeated. Since then, revived German superiority has been accommodated within the European Union. Meanwhile, the USA, rightly thinking that for the moment the Germans were more dangerous than the Japanese, intervened massively in Europe (while doing enough to secure Pacific victory) and established a world hegemony – de facto ‘empire’ – challenged only by the Soviet bloc, itself a kind of empire, though differently based.

But ‘religion’ in this primary sense, involving ties to family, city, country and conceptions of virtue, is an indigestible proposition for the bureaucratic state. It cannot understand that artworks not placed in churches – which have a definite legal status like football clubs and trade unions – may nevertheless possess a religious function. They are conceived to be saleable objects, their value wholly determined by market forces. Yet our liberalpluralist society cleaves to the baneful idea that ‘art’ is something different from the rest of life, set apart by ‘beauty for its own sake’.

Scots, D-Day 1994 33 Welsh, and very large numbers of Irish, from the south as well as the north, moved all over Britain as the demands of the fighting services and ‘war industry’ dictated, giving people as never before the sense of belonging to one community which was so faithfully propagated by Ealing Films. Though the big push in June 1944 came from southern England, where forces had been concentrating for months, material support and will-power from the whole north-west European archipelago flowed behind it.

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