Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

When the newspapers get it right: Orwell records two reports from August 1939

In our cynical age it is easy to forget that sometimes the newspapers get it right. I was struck while reading George Orwell’s diaries by the reports he cites in August 1939, just weeks before World War II began in Europe. The Manchester Guardian comes off particularly well. It reports that month that "German mobilization ...

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Wikimedia
Wikimedia

In our cynical age it is easy to forget that sometimes the newspapers get it right. I was struck while reading George Orwell's diaries by the reports he cites in August 1939, just weeks before World War II began in Europe.

The Manchester Guardian comes off particularly well. It reports that month that "German mobilization will be at full strength halfway through August & that some attempt to terrorise Poland will be made."

A few days later, Orwell notes, the same paper's diplomatic correspondent predicted that "Spain will almost certainly remain neutral in case of war."

In our cynical age it is easy to forget that sometimes the newspapers get it right. I was struck while reading George Orwell’s diaries by the reports he cites in August 1939, just weeks before World War II began in Europe.

The Manchester Guardian comes off particularly well. It reports that month that "German mobilization will be at full strength halfway through August & that some attempt to terrorise Poland will be made."

A few days later, Orwell notes, the same paper’s diplomatic correspondent predicted that "Spain will almost certainly remain neutral in case of war."

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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