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The Red Book

The Germans had a secret weapon during the Second World War that’s seldom discussed. It was called the Red Book. It was American. It was the standard school history text book read by many American kids. All nations need myths and new nations need them more than others. American nation building required a rather black and white account of the American War of Independence. The truth is that it would be better described as The First American Civil War. The subtleties of the conflict were lost in the Red Book and the British were reduced to brutal redcoats serving a tyrant king. This probably wasn’t much of a problem until the British and the Americans had to work closely during the Second World War. Many American commanders came to the war table with a deeply ingrained dislike and distrust for their British colleagues. The patronizing attitude shown by many of the Brits didn’t help. What the Americans didn’t realise was that those self-same Brits were equally patronizing to many of their fellow countrymen. The Red Book did much to lay the groundwork for American Anglo-phobia. Perhaps one of the miracles of the war was that so many American generals managed to hide it until the closing months of the war. Some of the smarter, or wiser, ones even managed to look beyond the Red Book, but truth to be told, not many and not enough of them.

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