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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Star Wars vs Donald Trump

The Swedish Star Wars fan film "Threads of Destiny" (Director: Rasmus Tirzitis).

It is a period of civil war. But also wars called civil wars that are more international than internal. Add to this a president-elect who has repeatedly bullied in public and does not seem to understand the meaning of basic words such as sacrifice. His main slogan was one big deception, as with every passing day it becomes clearer that what he really is going to do is MAKE AMERICA ONE GREAT REALITY SHOW.

If I had a shrink, I am sure I would be told that my recent behavior is escapism. I mean, analysis of actual wars - that´s basically my livelihood. But instead of writing more I find that I have lately been writing less. I find that I am spending too much time musing about space fantasies. Such as the coming Episode 0 of Star Wars, i.e. "Rogue One", fan films like "Threads of Destiny" and films about fans like "Elstree 1976". Thanks to SciFiNow magazine I now know a lot more about how the first Star Wars movies were designed. If you suffer from the same geekness you too will want to read the SciFiNow interview by Oliver Pfeiffer with Roger Christian, one of the main designers behind the worn-aesthetic look of Star Wars (esp the first three movies). Just the story of the most iconic Star Wars weapon of them all, Luke´s lightsaber, is well worth the price of the mag (Issue 126). And guess if I´ll be getting Roger Christian´s book? The title is Cinema Alchemist: Designing Star Wars & Alien.

So, dear humanity, as I am now unable to deal with reality I wish to at least provide you with insights about Star Wars trivia.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Finnish Hurriganes in Sweden

The Finnish rock album "Stranded In The Jungle".

The other day I made an unexpected discovery in Luleå, the largest city up here. This 1978 rock album entitled "Stranded In The Jungle" by the Finnish group Hurriganes. I now understand that this album was quite different in appearance in Finland, where it also got another name.

It may seem like a misspelling in the name of the group, "Hurriganes" with a "g". But it is a kind of joke. Having listened to them now I reckon the Hurriganes can be viewed as old school rock performers. I also just learnt the band is still around. Who knows more about this cover and especially why it was not used in Finland?

The place where I bought this rock gem is Antikvariat Samlarshoppen and here is the link to their Facebook-page.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Great US Presidential Trivia From Sweden

Theodore Roosevelt, Badlands hunter and later president of the USA. Note the Tiffany bowie knife. Photo: George Grantham Baine

By coincidence (or not) I can today blog about a new and partly Swedish book in English about US presidents. It really brings home a lot of both funny, inspiring and important facts about past presidents.

99 Peculiarities of American Presidents
by Dr Fergal Donnelly and Professor Wilhelm Engström (from Uppsala, Sweden) actually is a kind of entertaining mini-history of the United States, including some military history. Among the peculiarities let me mention that one president had actually been a hangman and another one was involved in as many as 100 duels - most of which were fought to defend the honour of his wife.

Of most interest to me were the pages about Dwight "Ike" Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt (the Roosevelt who was president 1901-1909). It is a truly amazing story how Roosevelt finally got his Medal of Honor only in 2001, from President Bill Clinton just before he left office. It was for actions against Spanish forces in 1898! I had believed the medal was just a PR stunt by Clinton. Now I understand why it took so long. BTW, Roosevelt's first book was The Naval War of 1812, which had a great impact on the formation of the modern US Navy. I must confess that before I picked up 99 peculiarities of American presidents I was also ignorant of the fact that President Roosevelt´s eldest son, Theodore Roosevelt Jr, was the only general on D-Day to land in Normandy by sea. Some weeks later he died of a heart attack. He was 57 and had kept his heart trouble secret. Like his father would be in 2001, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was posthumously awarded a Medal of Honor (on 28 September 1944) for his actions on D-Day.

Incidentally, I have previously blogged about the mysterious division in honour of Theodore Roosevelt that was set up by a Swedish volunteer, Ivor Thord-Gray.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Catastrophic Love

An unexpected and very moving love story. From Sweden to South Africa and back.

If you are reading this you probably know that my research, as well as this blog, is focused on conflicts. Well, lately I have become more interested in southern Africa - due to the armed conflicts there during the classic Cold War years, that involved also South African, US, Soviet and Cuban weapons & forces.

I am now going to write a bit about a South Africa book that you may be surprised to find here. It is an autobiography by a Swedish missionary, Eivor Jele. In 1963 Mrs. Jele left Sweden for South Africa. She was prepared for a lot but not to fully confront the apartheid system - nor to fall in love with a local man. This is the thing with her book, in spite of having read about the apartheid system since my school days, it was only this book that truly made me realize a number of things about the nature of the system. Aside from that, this book is a strong love story that starts with a "catastrophe". Mrs. Jele is a talented writer, and one feels both her love pains and smiles.

I cordially recommend this book to all Swedish-speakers with an interest in Africa. The title of the book would in translation be (Im)possible. It is so far only available in Swedish, as (O)möjligt. It is available through any Swedish library.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Mosul´s Swedish Commander

Uniforms of the Swedish-led Persian gendarmerie were a mix of Sweden and Persia.

The Iraqi city of Mosul is in the global news, but few are aware of the fact that a Swedish volunteer was once in command of the city. His name was Knut Killander and he was from Stockholm. He was part of the Swedish officer contingent serving in Persia between 1911 and 1916, who were split up by the outbreak of World War One.

Captain Knut Killander survived Mosul and other postings during WWI and joined an insurance business, to die peacefully in 1951. His fate is one of many strange and exotic ones in Swedes at War 1914-45, available in both English and Swedish. Some artifacts from the Swedish volunteers in Persia, such as the above headgear, can now be seen in the Army Museum in Stockholm.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The King´s Choice

The new Norwegian WWII movie "The King´s Choice".

I am really, really keen to see this new Norwegian movie, about the German invasion on April 9, 1940 and the immediate aftermath. The Norwegian king looks a lot like the real man, and everything else looks good too, at least in the above trailer.

It has after just a few weeks become Norway's most-watched film of the year. Any day now half a million Norwegians will have seen it.

Oscar stuff, perhaps?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

German Eyes On Nordic States

Tore Pryser´s magnificent book about German intelligence in the Nordic region.

Norwegian Professor Tore Pryser´s so far probably most important book is about the German intelligence services in the Nordic states - which is also the title in Norwegian of the book in question (Tyske hemmelige tjenester i Norden). Sadly, it has not yet been translated. But if you can understand Norwegian you really should get it, as it is a goldmine.

This book differs from almost all books about WWII in the Nordic area, as it does NOT start in 1939 and it is NOT limited to one of the Nordic states. Instead, Pryser starts his original study in the early 1930s and looks at how Nazism in the Nordic states, although small, was the foundation for much of the northern activities of the German secret services. Not being limited in scope to Norway, Pryser is also able to tell the full story - as northern German intelligence operations not seldom were cross-border ops.

Another great bonus with this book is that it does not stop in 1945 but rather in 1950. The book also looks at German war aims and war plans, e.g. against Sweden.

So, if you have a serious interest in Nordic WWII history, Tyske hemmelige tjenester i Norden is a real must.