The bombing of Caen by the Allies in 1944 was 'close to a war crime', according to Antony Beevor. In one respect, it is hard not to admire that weaselly phrase 'close to'. Beevor has managed to generate a lucrative controversy which will shift a few of his books, while keeping a bolt-hole into which he can flee when pursued. 'The whole thing is a grey area', he elaborates when pressed by a journalist, 'and I don't say it was definitely a war crime.' I don't say that Beevor is definitely a shameless self-publicist.
A forthcoming conference in Caen next May will consider representations of war in the 20th and 21st Century. Papers may focus on graphic art, fiction, poetry, music, life-writing, journalism, film, video, etc., as well as 'commemorative supports' such as museums and monuments. Does Beevor's book constitute a commemorative support?