I think it's outrageous if a historian has a 'leading thought' because it means they will select their material according to their thesis
I just write the sort of book that I would enjoy reading myself, a book that is both scholarly and recreates the experience of people at that time.
The great European dream was to diminish militant nationalism. We would all be happy Europeans together. But we are going to see the old monster of militant nationalism being awoken when people realise how little control their politicians have.
The British bombing of Caen beginning on D-Day in particular was stupid, counter-productive and above all very close to a war crime.
If you smash a city when you're trying to capture it, you actually end up providing the perfect terrain for the defenders while blocking the access for your own armoured vehicles.
It takes me three or four years to research and write each book and the individual stories stay with you for a long time afterwards.
I feel slightly uneasy at the way historians are consulted as if history is going to repeat itself. It never does.
The vital thing for me is to integrate the history from above with the history from below because only in that way can you show the true consequences of the decisions of Hitler or Stalin or whomever on the ordinary civilians caught up in the battle.
It was only after five years in the army, when I was having to do a very boring job in a very boring place, that I thought: 'Why not try writing a novel?' partly out of youthful arrogance and partly because there had been a long line of writers in my mother's family.
When I was younger I used to get my best writing done at night, but now it has to be during the day. I usually finish work at half past seven, then go back to the house to open a bottle of wine, have dinner, and then read or watch television.
The duty of a historian is simply to understand and then convey that understanding, no more than that.
The majority of soldiers and officers of the Soviet Army and the allied armies treated the local population humanely.
To begin impatiently is the worst mistake a writer can make.
I expect the worst both from reviewers and sales and then, with any luck, I may be proved wrong.