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How to Win the War

Foyle's War is a TV drama written by Anthony Horowitz that takes place during and shortly after WWII.

So far I have only seen up to 1944 but I am impressed with the high quality of this production because of several reasons.  First the characters are not simply foils to the plot - they are written and acted as real people living in difficult conditions. Second the program does not stray from the context of that time. Third what is revealed is the many ways in which war oppresses people, even those who are rational, ethical, well educated, living in highly developed societies.  Each episode reveals the destruction by showing us how the characters deal with the difficult situations.

The most heart breaking episode is "Broken Souls" which tells the story of the mental health of soldiers and civilians.  It focuses on a psychiatrist who is operating at a very compassionate level even though he has lost his home and family.  Coming from Poland to England he works with ex-military men whose lives have been interrupted by mental illness. Like the character of Foyle he is an example of a deep commitment to life and the moral standards that demands.  We watch the souls breaking and being broken by the conversations and conflicts between each character, and each character deserves compassion.

(This compares to blockbuster movies - where the good are magical and the evil mechanical robots who struggle for power with high tech weapons.  Watching a fine production such as Foyle's War really contrasts with the modern propaganda for the arms industry.)

In the "Broken Souls" episode the good doctor discovers that his wife was killed in a death camp, and filled with remorse for surviving his family he attempts to kill himself.  His suicide is interrupted and he is rescued.  But later he discovers through a Pathe News Reel the conditions of the prison camp his family were taken to.  Distraught he leaves the movie theatre and walks by the river where he is knocked down by a young German prisoner of war trying to escape.  It is while he is down in the mud that his reason is overtaken with rage just for a few moments and he picks up a rock, throws it at the German, killing him.

It is the doctor's retelling of this event that is the poetry, the illustration of how a soul is broken.  It is the narrative of every fine soldier, healer and human who survives the break down of the world around them.  It is the door to our understanding how no-one wins the war in the end. There are always broken souls who seek to mend them by causing the next war, and the next, and the next - and so it goes.

The only way to win the war is to value life more than power. This too is not an end to war forever, not a lasting solution, because once we attempt to control the lives of others, we step back into the devil's deal of power and move away from life. This is a principle of our evolution not a strategy or an ideology.


  1. Yes I look forward to that although I don't know when it will come to KCTS.


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