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Author, film researcher and member of the Swedish Military History Commission.

Friday, December 28, 2012

What Mattered In 2012

The book of the year, if you ask me.

Looking back at 2012 I would say it again was a year of the rise of Asia and in particular China. As for my own work during this year, North Africa was a major focus.

Judging from recent reports, the world in 2013 will be no less shaped by what takes place in Asia, starting January 1.

The Syrian Civil War may evolve into something much worse. Another serious hotspot is of course Iran, and, as always, there is Israel and North Korea. The latter country is the subject of this year´s strongest book IMHO, Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden. But for some reason I reckon that the East China Sea holds the greatest dangers during 2013.

In case we are fortunate enough that no new major wars break out in 2013 the world may still suffer greatly, perhaps as much as from war, by further inactivity in the field of energy, i.e. by not seriously going for alternative energy sources. Here the US, China and the EU probably hold the largest keys.

Moving away from things of global importance to my own work, in 2012 I was writing mostly on a book about a special forces unit in North Africa, Ghost Patrol. It was released a month ago. I also wrote several articles about more or less recent military history, one which was extra special, as it to a great extent was the result of exciting discoveries in the mountains by some very energetic readers of mine.

Speaking about readers, I only now found this study in English about Swedish volunteers in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, partly based on Swedes at War. Well, in 2013 I will return to the subject of Swedish volunteers, first those in Finland and Norway in 1940, and then, in another book, all over Europe and Asia.

Goodbye 2012 and wishing all my readers a Happy New Year!

When I wrote the above I was not aware of this article re. the worsening security climate China-Japan.

But, you may ask, what about a Swedish connection to Escape From Camp 14? Well, although the book makes no reference to Sweden or any other Nordic country, Sweden played a largely unknown role during the first combat phase of the still unfinished Korean War. There was both a Swedish field hospital where everyone wore US uniforms and in addition a handful of Swedish volunteers and many more Swedish Americans in US combat units. More about them in a coming book by me and Lennart Westberg. Although Escape From Camp 14 is not about a soldier but about a man born in a North Korean concentration camp, it does provide valuable insights also into Korean history. In addition, yours truly during four years lived right beside the North Korean embassy in Switzerland. This gave me several opportunities to learn about North Korea. I got to talk with several persons living inside the embassy, especially one Kim. It was, however, not the Kim now ruling North Korea, as he arrived in Switzerland only after I had left the country. Still, I have some idea about the wonderful environment where he spent some of his formative years. I tend to think those years must have done him and the world some kind of good.


  1. Most of what we hear about the Hermit Kingdom comes from defectors, but there's a lot more to the country.
    Read this article giving nuance to these tales, published by GlobalPost (http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/commentary/north-korea-defectors-real-life), by the author of the new book A CAPITALIST IN NORTH KOREA: MY SEVEN YEARS IN THE HERMIT KINGDOM

  2. Dear anonymous,

    The article you refer to is interesting but in my opinion the author, Felix Abt, does not quite fairly explain about the lie that Harden was indeed told. If you read the whole book I believe you can see that the lie was an understandable survival measure. Harden in no way covers up the lie but instead exposes it fully.

    Kind regards,


  3. P.S.
    "Tales" is not a word I would use.