Recently, I have been reading a nice old set of military history books by a fellow named J.F.C. Fuller. It’s called A Military History of the Western World. I was reading it in preparation for a possible post I’ve been working on about Napoleon Bonaparte. Then I looked up Fuller, and decided that he was worth a post all by himself.
Fuller was a Major General in the British Army in the First World War. He also came up with idea of using lights to aid with maneuvering troops at night. He was also called “Boney” for his admiration for Napoleon.
So far, this seems pretty normal for a military historian. But then I got to the weirder bits of Fuller’s bio. He was also really into the occult, and a follower of Aleister Crowley. Says Wikipedia: “While serving in the First Oxfordshire Light Infantry he had entered, and won, a contest to write the best review of Crowley’s poetic works – he was apparently the only entrant to the contest.” You can read it if you want–I tried, but it’s the most over-written, incoherent mythological babble I ever read, and I’ve read Clark Ashton Smith.
At this point, it’s pretty clear that Fuller was not really the very model of a modern Major-General. It gets worse: thanks to his influential theories on mechanized warfare, “Fuller was an honoured guest at Adolf Hitler’s 50th birthday parade.” During the war, the British government did not call him back to serve, due to his suspected Nazi sympathies.
Needless to say, after reading all this, I was a little less enthusiastic about his military history than I had been. You don’t expect to find out that the author of a rather dry history was also an occultist Nazi. I mean, if I read a story with a character like that, I would say it was over the top. But now, I am tempted to write something with such a character as a villain. It offers some interesting possibilities.