It takes me three or four years to research and write each book and the individual stories stay with you for a long time afterwards.
I feel slightly uneasy at the way historians are consulted as if history is going to repeat itself. It never does.
I think it’s outrageous if a historian has a ‘leading thought’ because it means they will select their material according to their thesis.
To begin impatiently is the worst mistake a writer can make.
I believe passionately in preemptive pessimism, especially before a book comes out. I expect the worst both from reviewers and sales, and then, with any luck, I may be proved wrong.
Alpacas are very endearing, and they all have very different personalities.
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.