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> Your view: The best Romanian historical books, The best, the 2nd best, the 3rd best
Florin
Posted: October 25, 2014 05:40 am
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The end of the Communism in Romania also ended the era of the politically correct history books.
Starting with 1990 countless books were printed – many a welcomed coverage of the "forgotten" era occurring before August 1944.
Every few weeks another Romanian historical book is presented in this Forum.

So, in your personal opinion, which are the best, the second best and the third best Romanian historical books about World War Two ?
Expressing your views may be useful to the readers less aware about the variety of titles available.
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Dénes
Posted: October 25, 2014 07:23 am
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This is a very good topic. I would also like to know if historically accurate book(s), free of political interferences and the usual clichés have been published in Rumania in the past 25 years.

Several books, claimed to be such - for example, O istorie sincera a poporului roman - turned out to be a disappointment (at least for me), as I could find the same "truths" already vehiculated during national-communism of the Ceausescu era.

I am looking forward for your input.

Gen. Dénes
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Agarici
Posted: October 25, 2014 02:28 pm
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QUOTE (Dénes @ October 25, 2014 07:23 am)
This is a very good topic. I would also like to know if historically accurate book(s), free of political interferences and the usual clichés have been published in Rumania in the past 25 years.

Several books, claimed to be such - for example, O istorie sincera a poporului roman - turned out to be a disappointment (at least for me), as I could find the same "truths" already vehiculated during national-communism of the Ceausescu era.

I am looking forward for your input.

Gen. Dénes


Hello. Several questions for you, Denes:

1. What do you mean by national-comunism? It is not the first time that you use here such a controversial formulation. Which is the theoretical and empirical base for that very debatable construct (apart from Hungarian nationalist - and Hungarian nationalist lobby - media and clichees)? Authors and uncontroversial facts, please. In your understanding of national-communism, do you include the foreign and cultural policies of Socialist Hungary durind the '70s and '80s of the Cadar era (which produced, for example, the infamous - and backed by the communsit officials - "History of Transylvania" in mid-1980's), and if not please bother to explain why??

2. Based on what right (and with what sort of arguments) did you decide that ENTIRE generations of historians, with tens of years of study and expertise, working and writing before 1989, had done a crappy work, profesionally and morally wise? Please don't mind me asking you to bother to provide arguments for your gross generalization...

3. Don't you think that your initial question, I quote "I would also like to know if historically accurate BOOK(s), free of political interferences and the usual clichés have been published in Rumania in the past 25 years", is at least RUDE? Do you mean book, as in 1 (one)? It is good that you provide, even as a less probable possibility, the chance for those books to be more than one, at least 2 or 3... As a personal curiosity, why do you persist in such a defying and impolite attitude? Hasn't the Hungarian nationalism and revisionism caused enough deaths and victims in the past, the last being those of 1989-1990?

4. Regarding "O istorie sincera...", and many other books (have you ever heard of N. Djuvara, or of L. Boia?), should they had been meant to please you, personally? The way I see things, I witness series after series of Romanian history books wrote in a rather historical deconstructivist manner, opposed by XIX century-style Hungarian historical writings and official celebrations (after 1990, I mean), Millenia aniversation and dubious procession at the monuments of various assortments of (alleged) war criminals. But hey, with a quasi-fascist prime-minister in Hungary nowadays, that should not surprise us too much...

Looking forward for your answers.

This post has been edited by Agarici on October 25, 2014 02:33 pm
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Naire
Posted: October 25, 2014 05:18 pm
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I haven´t noticed Denes would praise Hungarian nationalism or nationalist history. Despite I would have some objection against some of his statements (in his, otherwise very nice book about Hungarian army in czech language), in his posts is nothing like that. Dont understand, why are you so mad at this statement.

1. I think this could be a mix of stereotypes any myths created during national revival/pre-war period, mixed with the phantasmagorias created during the years of communism. In the first case, every modern nation, which formed during 19th century has some, even the works of historians like Xenofon, Giorgescu, Calinescu, Panaitescu, and sadly the modern academic Istoria Romanilor are full of that etc. These myths and stereotypes are mainly similar to their hungarian (and german, czech, polish, italian, greek, bulgarian etc.) counterparts, just a side is different. Nothing which should need so furious reaction. The problem is, that in some countries (like Hungary, as far as I know, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Turkey) still hasn´t come any serious critical revision of these ideas, so the historical works are still sometimes deformed by these ideas.

2. These things dont have to do anything with the actual erudution of concrete historians. Even a spectaculary educated man (and I met some of these, admire them and I use their works) can lower his long-term value work to some degree by the fact, that the work influenced by the 19th century/communis nationalist views. This doesn´t mean, all of them are like that, it also differs by the intensity, topic etc. it´s not something, which can be generalised of course. I´ve read many perfect and interesting works of romanian historians, but still, if you look on the general works, I really can´t point at one, which wouldn´t be at least partially deformed by these ideas (at lest for the medieval period I normally study). It´s logical in the older books and nothing wrong with it, but in the book written after 89 it´s a bit problem.

3. You can really find at least some of these clishés in the most of the books, sometimes it´s understandable, sometimes, not really, but they are there, even in the books of people I admire very much. And military history of any country is especially voulnerable against them, even in the "western" countries. The fact they are here isn´t something tragic. But they need to be discussed withnout much emotions and even if the final counclusion can be closer to some "national" point of view, the pseudo-patriotic cries does nothing to find this conclusion, and this is valid in the every single "national" historiography.

4. You may be suprised, but the fact, that people don´t agree with some point of view, doesn´t mean the need to agree with it´s complete oposite. I am not sure about Boia´s books, I haven´t read them, but the main books of Djuvara are full of the errors and misconceptions exactly because for the autor, his idea is more important, than his wish to find more, even if would mean he´s wrong. That´s something he has common with these clasical "national-communist" ideas (but even "capitalist" countries has some of these myths, so I also wouldn´t use this term, but from different reason).

The world is noth black/white, romanian/hungarian as you may think. Try to think about the possibility people can love Romania (history, culture, people, everything) and be, in the same moment, a little critical about it and try do understand them rather than form the answers and charge nose and national flag first in the battle.......it can help understand your nations and others better, even if you wont agree with them in the end.
It´s only my point of view, of course.
Take care

This post has been edited by Naire on October 25, 2014 05:50 pm
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Agarici
Posted: October 26, 2014 12:08 am
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I am not mad at all. The only thing is that I fail to see the point of your post. So, you haven't red L. Boia, the historian with the most published (and reprinted) editions after 1989 in Romania, but you have firm oppinions about the Romanian historyography from that period. Well, I cannot help to find that strange, at least. And you find Djuvara's writings full of errors, even if the point of my intervention was not the presence or absence of errors, but of the nationalistic biases and clichees. And, by the way, your credentials that justify such a straight-forward judgment ("full of errors") about the work of a historian are...? Perhaps you may find that, unless you are fluent in Romanian, it would be a bit difficult for you to have a documented oppinion on that matter.

I wasn't discussing Denes history books, for which he has my admiration. Only, as a contributor on that forum from around 10 years (a little bit more than you, I guess), some of his repeated interventions here, obviously affected by a nationalistic bias or agenda (the most clear example - the continual denying, in spite of all the evidence, of the "diktat" characteristic of August 1940 "Vienna arbitration").

This post has been edited by Agarici on October 26, 2014 01:26 am
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Radub
Posted: October 26, 2014 08:52 am
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Every historian has a bias. Writing history books takes time, effort, dedication. There is no "money" in it. So, the only reason why anyone does any such work is because of "care", "love", "interest". These are emotions. It is no wonder that such books often evoke "emotive reactions" rather than "logical reactions." I know many historians, Romanian, British, American, German, French, Italian, and they all have strong views, especially nationalist views. We cannot blame Denes for doing what EVERY other historian does.

As for "errors", everyone makes mistakes. Even "sacred monsters" make mistakes. "History" consists of written records of recollections. That is why good researchers tend to corroborate a number of sources. That is not a bad thing, it is only natural. Picture a scenario: take two people, an educated person who speaks two languages and travelled the world and a farmer with four years of schooling who never left his village. These two people go to war far away and end up witnessing the same battle, one as an officer in a warm command post with maps, spotters and telephones and the other as a frontline soldier after ten other similar battles where he moved from one featureless trench to another. Only one kept a diary. You interview these people fifty years later, but get different accounts. Which one tells the truth? Both! THAT is the trouble with historic research. Saying that "one must be wrong" is silly.

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Naire
Posted: October 26, 2014 09:48 am
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To Agarici

Yes, you´ve really failed to see the point. Sorry, I just tried............

Sorry, my mistake, I didn´t specify, that I meant mostly (but not exclusively) the medieval oriented historiography, which Boia is quite irelevant for (as for the military history, as far as I know). In this field I think I have solid knowledge, even for the period after 1989. You can ask, why is that relevant for the more modern periods. It´s so, because many of these clichees takes arguments exactly from here. I´ve read only one of Boia´s book (slovak translation), but it was more publicistic, than historical work, so there is no point in arguing with it. But you have the point, I will read something from him.

Because Djuvara´s errors only means, that he is trying to fight "nationalistic biases and clichees" with just other biases and chlichees, just "antinationalistic" (for examply his thery about Cuman origins of the Wallachian nobility). I´ve read his books, also the polemics with other romanian medievists, also the documents he´s refering to.......so my opinion on his work can be wrong of course, but it is based on some solid amount of books and it´s definitely not straight-forward.
And yes, I am fluent in Romanian.

That´s funny, we had the same discussion in our country with the Munich agreement. During communist rule, it was also called "Munich diktat", but this was gradually removed from use after 1989. The same is with the First Wienna arbitration (yeah, there were more of them). Not because the change of the opinion about it, but because the word "diktat" has strongly emotional character and "dictates" the way historians should look at the events, so it has nothing to do with a serious historical works. That´s why you find, for example, even in the czech books (where the autors have generally more symphaty for Romania) the term "Second Wienna arbitration". It isn´t really a matter of nationalistic bias of agenda (If I use the term Munich agreement in CZ, noone will accuse me for having "german biased antipatriotic view" and it really doesn´t mean I would support what happened there), it´s a matter of using some internationally acknowleged standards for historical resarch and discussion. That´s exactly why (for example) the Treaty of Trianon isn´t called a "Trianon diktat" or something like that.

But yeah, I am just some zero (but still I was reading this forum little more years before I created this account, so I know what are you talking about), so if you can´t find a point, don´t worry, I won´t try anymore.

This post has been edited by Naire on October 26, 2014 10:00 am
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Agarici
Posted: October 26, 2014 12:29 pm
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Naire, I didn't mean to upset you, and if that happened I appologize. I never meant that you are ”some zero”, only that you are new in this type of discussion with Denes.

Now, getting back to the basis of it and regarding what Florin and Radu said, they both have a point - the debate about facts and values in the field of humanities and social sciences is an old and long one, and we will not live to see the end of it. However, I am convinced that we could use logic and reason to sort some things out of it. So, on the one hand I won’t go that far in saying, like K. Mannheim, that ALL in our worldview/weltanschauung is ideology, but I neither agree with the anti-weberian stance that all the values are subjective and/or relative and that we should get rid of them, or accept ALL with equal justification. I do consider that there is a core of values upon which the large majority of cultures agree, even if the members of some societies neglect/trespass them during particular timeframes. These are the respect for life, the rejection of the arbitrary, an idea of justice, etc. Now, starting from here, to give equal justification to any type of value claim altogether is not justified.

Let’s take the case of WW 1, from which start we commemorate nowadays 100 years. Many contemporary revisionist approaches, starting from real facts and their complexity, tend to put the all the things together, contesting any tipe of particular blame or responsibility. The explanations lies only in that epoch’s intricacy, ideology, arms race, etc. I do not (and I cannot) know if the war was unavoidable (as they say), but I DO know (and I don’t say that without having red a few good thousand pages on that matter) that there WAS a German militarism (while France and Britain were representative democracies), that Austria-Hungary and Germany did attack and invade Serbia and France, that Belgian neutrality was trespassed by the Germans and that, at least in part, their behavior in the occupied zones justifies the unfortunate use of the label “Huns”.

Naire mentioned the second (yes, I know there were two :) ) Wienna award/diktat. For Christ sake, it was done by people like Goering, Ribbentropp, Ciano, not to mention Hitler and Mussolini, not by mainstream, bureaucratized or elected politicians. From the other hundreds of pages about the event we KNOW already that the Romanian delegation was lured to participate at a discussion about the criteria according to which the Romanian-Hungarian dispute is to be dealt with, without having asked for an arbitration (see Ribbentrop letter to Manoilescu, the memoirs of Manoilescu, king Carol and the official statement of the Romanian government), than blackmailed in the most plain sense of the term to accept a decision in a incredible short timeframe (see the memoirs of Manoilescu, Pop, Bossy, the transcript of the Romanian Crown Councils, the recollections of Ciano) of face German military intervention, in order to give away a territory with Romanian ethnic majority, granted by the status-quo, the international treaties and, according to most of the observers (Hitler and Goering among them) by the direct rapport of forces between Romania and Hungary. Now you may call that an arbitration, an act of justice, Victor Orban’s national holyday, but I stick to arguments to call it a gangster-type, mafia-like Diktat. If those people behaved like some thugs, I will not say the opposite because of the sake of "historical neutrality" (?).

PS 1: Naire, apparently you fail to see the justification of the Romanian historiography for Transylvania’s status after 1918, and this is why you suggest a comparison between Trianon 1920 and Wienna 1940. That was based not upon Trianon, wich only translated the fact in the International Law, in a treaty-like form, but about the act from Alba-Iulia, which followed popular consultation. I’m pretty amazed that you have missed that completely.

PS 2: about the “non-biased, clichés free” Romanian historians I mentioned, I’m taking the liberty to mention the name of two of them, who are from Cluj and whom I had the chance to know personally (at least one of them "being around" even before 1990): Sorin Mitu and Ottmar Traşca. They tried not to substitute one set of clichés with another, but to look at the other side of the things, by using (mainly) German and Hungarian sources and documents. And each of them wrote more than one book...

This post has been edited by Agarici on October 26, 2014 01:01 pm
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Florin
Posted: October 26, 2014 09:17 pm
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Maybe in the starting message I did not choose the best approach.
It can be hard to decide what was the best historical book about WWII published in Romania after 1990, even with the options "second best" and "third best".
As of now, thank you for your comments and arguments, but there are no recommended titles yet.

I am trying to make it easier . . .
We do not need to decide for "the best, the second best, third best".
Just mention on your behalf:

" I would recommend for you to read. . . "
It could be 3 titles, 5 titles or more - but if you will mention too many, the matter will become meaningless.
You do not need to explain why you are choosing a title.
It goes as obvious that at least you read that book from start to end, or most of it, and you as an individual agreed with the content (or if I may say: You liked the content )
I think that books including the preluding interwar period, or also "touching" World War One for matters linked with World War Two, also qualify as WWII books.
I am aware that the subjects may be very different (from ground forces to aviation, from technical equipment to sentimental witness accounts), so indeed pushing to 3 books - best 1st, 2nd, 3rd was not such a good idea.

This post has been edited by Florin on October 26, 2014 09:20 pm
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Daniel Focsa
Posted: November 04, 2014 05:23 pm
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1. Gheorghe Barbul, Memorial Antonescu. Al treilea om al Axei
2. Cornel Marandiuc, Cavalerii bimotoarelor de asalt
3. Cristian Ionescu, Zece femei impotriova mortii. Escadrila Alba

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Florin
Posted: November 05, 2014 05:10 am
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QUOTE (Daniel Focsa @ November 04, 2014 12:23 pm)
1. Gheorghe Barbul, Memorial Antonescu. Al treilea om al Axei
2. Cornel Marandiuc, Cavalerii bimotoarelor de asalt
3. Cristian Ionescu, Zece femei impotriova mortii. Escadrila Alba

Thank you.
Hopefully others will follow your lead, and express their opinion . . .

This post has been edited by Florin on November 05, 2014 05:13 am
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Dénes
Posted: November 11, 2014 01:19 pm
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My top three historical books dealing with Rumania (in chronological order, as I read them):

- Cornel Marandiuc: "Inimi cit sa cuprinda cerul Patriei", editura Dacia, Cluj, 1985.
- Lucian Boia: "Istorie si mit in constiinta romaneasca", editura Humanitas, Bucharest, 1997.
- Béni L. Balogh: "The Second Vienna Award and the Hungarian-Romanian Relations, 1940-1944", Published by Atlantic Research and Publ. Distributed by Columbia University Press, New York, 2011.

There are many other books on Rumanian history I liked a lot, but somehow these three ones popped in my mind first.

Gen. Dénes

This post has been edited by Dénes on November 11, 2014 01:27 pm
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Dénes
Posted: November 11, 2014 01:24 pm
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QUOTE (Agarici @ October 25, 2014 08:28 pm)
Hello. Several questions for you, Denes:

1. What do you mean by national-comunism? It is not the first time that you use here such a controversial formulation. Which is the theoretical and empirical base for that very debatable construct (apart from Hungarian nationalist - and Hungarian nationalist lobby - media and clichees)? Authors and uncontroversial facts, please. In your understanding of national-communism, do you include the foreign and cultural policies of Socialist Hungary durind the '70s and '80s of the Cadar era (which produced, for example, the infamous - and backed by the communsit officials - "History of Transylvania" in mid-1980's), and if not please bother to explain why??

To Agarici. I post here an excerpt from the book of Béni L. Balogh, I mentioned above (more excerpts at the topic's proper location: http://www.worldwar2.ro/forum/index.php?ac...195#entry92120).

(IMG:http://i61.tinypic.com/15yg177.jpg)

(IMG:http://i57.tinypic.com/30w1g7s.jpg)

Please mind, that my stance on "national Communism" of Ceausescu's Rumania of the 1970s/1980s was experienced first hand; and I formed my opinion back then. The above excerpt from a book written recently by a Transylvanian scholar of this topic only strengthens my stance.

If you wish to comment, please do so in the aforementioned thread.

Gen. Dénes

Late edit: I was just reading an editorial in Gandul on-line magazine, related to the current political events, when I stumbled upon the following sentence: "Propaganda naţional-comunistă a intrat în această săptămână în mod natural în etapa luptei contra străinilor." http://www.gandul.info/puterea-gandului/ul...dealul-13489235
It seems, the connection between these two terms was not mine only...

This post has been edited by Dénes on November 11, 2014 08:26 pm
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Agarici
Posted: November 12, 2014 09:43 pm
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Denes, thank you for sharing the pages from the book with us. I'm rather busy these days, but I will read them and formulate an answer as soon as possible.

However, wasn't the question from the topic about Romanian history books (with emphasis on Romanian)? The book from which you presented the excrept is written by a Hungarian historian (judging by the name - I never heard about him) and published by an American publishing house. So, what exactlly makes it Romanian?? Would you mind to ellaborate a bit on that?

OFFTOPIC: Regarding the link from "Gandul" newspaper, unless you intend to make electoral campaigning on an "official" historical forum (but I guess this would be OK if you'd move the discussion in the "General discussion" thread), I guess you should be kidding in justifying a so-called sientific formulation ("national-comunism") with a newspaper article related to an electoral campaign. However, even the stance/bias/affiliation of the newspaper/site (and of the author, F. Negrutiu) is clear, so I don't get what you are trying to "prove". The article has nothing of an detached/objective (not to say social-science oriented) approach, it presents a pure artistical/emotional/literary view (Ghita-TV, şoşonari, "Mandrul Român", etc).

More offttopic: If you would like to have a more structured discussion (as in "with arguments and without name-calling" - but it seems that, at least in matters of politics, you tend to favour the latter - see the above link to the article) on the national stereotypes used in the present electoral campaign, unfortunatelly for them, those who started using them were, from the very beginning, the advisors from Mr. K. Johannis staff. But apparently they failed to realize (or to predict) that once you start using a stereotype with its positives side, the negative part also came into discussion. Hence, the recent (and oversimplifying) connections made between the post-1989 German Democratic Forum in Romania and the 1930s organization with a similar name (which obviously was NSDAP-controlled), and the extrapolation between L. Tokes extrem-nationalist agenda (which is rather a matter of evidence) and his (alleged) support for K. Johannis.

This post has been edited by Agarici on November 12, 2014 09:44 pm
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Dénes
Posted: November 13, 2014 06:00 am
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QUOTE (Agarici @ November 13, 2014 03:43 am)
The book from which you presented the excrept is written by a Hungarian historian (judging by the name - I never heard about him) and published by an American publishing house. So, what exactlly makes it Romanian?? Would you mind to ellaborate a bit on that?

The Author was born in Rumania (Timisoara), and graduated from the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, History Department, in 1984 (thus he is part of the group of 'new generation of historians' from Cluj you were referring to earlier). In his book he is referring to Ottmar Trasca several times, whom you also mentioned often, in good terms.

Gen. Dénes

P.S. Please disregard actual politics, don't deviate from the topic. I am not very familiar with the current events, and it does not matter.
All I was emphasising with that particular occurrence I stumbled upon these days that others, in Rumania, also use the term 'national communism' in Rumania you vehemently object. There must be many more similar samples.

This post has been edited by Dénes on November 13, 2014 11:10 am
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