Pierre Miquel : "Les Poilus d'Orient"
end 1998 by Editions Fayard, "Poilus d'Orient" (Privates of the
East) was written by Pierre Miquel, one of the better known French
specialists on the Great War.
start with, it tells the story of the Gallipoli Campaign and the French
army engaged there. In a second part, it deals with the expedition to
Salonika. The latter is beyond the scope of this website, but reading the
Gallipoli history as seen by a French historian, might offer some new
information and a fresh view on the 1915 Campaign.
new it is.
give a few examples, Pierre Miguel informs us about the exact landing
place of the Australians and the situation on 26th April, one day after
the landing :
Australian readers finally get to know that no positions inland were
captured on the first day of the landing, and that places like Lone
Pine, Quinn's Post and the Nek did not exist. Moreover, this is only
logical, when one understands at last that the landing was made south of
Gaba Tepe and not some miles north of it, as all the other books about
Gallipoli seem to state.
know, it might be too harsh to condemn an author because he did not go
to Turkey to have a look himself. Not consulting -at least- the official
histories of the Gallipoli campaign is already a different matter. What
is entirely unacceptable however, is the fact that he simply fills in
the gaps in his knowledge with pure fantasy. Not only is this a
procedure for which you fail in your first year at university, it is
simply a lack of respect towards the reader and history itself. Call it
an arrogant way of using one's reputation as a historian (?), call it
laziness or making a perverse use of the innocence of French readers,
the result is there. When reading Miquel's pulp fiction, I can't help
wondering how naive one must be as a historian, to think that nonsense
of this kind might go unnoticed.
the back cover of the book, the publisher declares : "This less
well-known episode of the Great War is here told with devotion and
passion by Pierre Miquel, whose publications about WWI have been a
reference for years."
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