I’m wondering if you have any combat veterans (specifically any who’ve served in the last few decades) among your friends, family, or acquaintances with whom you discuss battle, war, or fighting in combat?
I’ve read dozens of your books (all of the Sharpes, Starbuck, Hookton, & Saxon series). Over the years I’ve often noticed that your writing on being in the heat of battle - the madness, chaos & unbridled violence - effectively transcends historic and cultural barriers. I think that’s quite normal, as the act of fighting in military combat has become about as global and human as partying, sex, music and religion. However, I’ve found that your writing can actually be used to help people today who’re struggling with the process of transitioning from the soldier (or marine) mentality back into civilian life. More specifically, I find that glancing through history at warriors’ accounts (even if fictional) of the violence of battle could provide a feeling of grim but comforting normality to some who, today, I think feel very separated, distant, and misunderstood by a modern, Western culture that’s become (thankfully) so far removed from war.
I think exposure to anecdotes from people who’ve felt the terror of combat (regardless of the time in history) can provide a strange comfort base I can only describe as a "warrior ghost support group.” Since WWII or perhaps Vietnam, in the developed world, the population of combat vets walking and working among us has shrunk significantly (which is perhaps a good thing). Although, that’s a cultural shift that may actually make falling back into post-service life quite difficult for those who’ve been exposed to, or acted with, the savagery of battle.
So, I’m just curious whether you talk with combat veterans who’ve served in the last few decades, because your writing suggests that you have, even though you’re writing about Agincourt or Badajoz (instead of Ramadi or Marjah). Additionally, have you considered writing a more contemporary war novel, or even a nonfiction piece (perhaps like your excellent accounting of Waterloo) that connects some war / battle-related themes present in all time periods of your writing?
I sincerely appreciate your time & consideration in answering these questions, and also for providing some people with a source of empathy, even if unknowingly or unintentionally.
Post Script: Sorry for being a bit winded, but I thought a little explanation might help make my questions more clear, I’m not much of a writer!.