Roger Moorhouse shortlisted for the Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History 2020
The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) is an independent think tank engaged in cutting edge defence and security research. A unique institution, it was founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington.
On 20th January RUSI announced the shortlist for the 2020 Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History, which includes Roger Moorhouse’s book FIRST TO FIGHT.
Formerly known as the Duke of Westminster Medal for Military Literature, the award was created in 1997 and aims to reward on an annual basis the best English language writing on military history, interpreted widely to include the role of the armed forces, the conduct of wars, and the impact of conflict on nations and societies, over any period up to the present day.
The 2020 shortlist is available here.
FIRST TO FIGHT: The Polish War 1939 was published in September 2019 by the Bodley Head.
The Second World War began on 1 September 1939, when German tanks, trucks and infantry crossed the Polish border, and the Luftwaffe began bombing Poland’s cities. The Polish army fought bravely but could not withstand an attacker superior in numbers and technology; and when the Red Army invaded from the east – as agreed in the pact Hitler had concluded with Stalin – the country’s fate was sealed. Poland was the first to fight the German aggressor; it would be the first to suffer the full murderous force of Nazi persecution. By the end of the Second World War, one in five of its people had perished.
The Polish campaign is the forgotten story of the Second World War. Despite prefacing many of that conflict’s later horrors – the wanton targeting of civilians, indiscriminate bombing and ethnic cleansing – it is little understood, and most of what we think we know about it is Nazi propaganda, such as the myth of Polish cavalry charging German tanks with their lances. In truth, Polish forces put up a spirited defence, in the expectation that they would be assisted by their British and French allies. That assistance never came.
FIRST TO FIGHT is the first history of the Polish war for almost half a century. Drawing on letters, memoirs and diaries by generals and politicians, soldiers and civilians from all sides, Roger Moorhouse’s dramatic account of the military events is entwined with a tragic human story of courage and suffering, and a dark tale of diplomatic betrayal.