If you smash a city when you’re trying to capture it, you actually end up providing the perfect terrain for the defenders while blocking the access for your own armoured vehicles.
The vital thing for me is to integrate the history from above with the history from below because only in that way can you show the true consequences of the decisions of Hitler or Stalin or whomever on the ordinary civilians caught up in the battle.
The duty of a historian is simply to understand and then convey that understanding, no more than that.
When I was a child I had something called Perthes’ Disease which meant I was on crutches, so I was bullied at school and all that sort of stuff.
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest, with his martial cloak around him.
I was planning to stay in the Army all my life, but I ended up being posted to a training camp in Wales and was so bored there, I wrote a novel.
The great European dream was to diminish militant nationalism. We would all be happy Europeans together. But we are going to see the old monster of militant nationalism being awoken when people realise how little control their politicians have.
Restorers of paintings and pottery follow a code of conduct in their work to distinguish the original material from what they are adding later.
The power of historical fiction for bad and for good can be immense in shaping consciousness of the past.
I expect the worst both from reviewers and sales and then, with any luck, I may be proved wrong.