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Oct 31, 2023

My Guests

Bill Whiteside is a sales and marketing executive turned software salesman turned lay historian turned narrative nonfiction writer. He is the author of an engaging memoir, Everyone Knows a Salesman Can't Write A Book, and to further debunk the myth that he can’t write, he's finishing up a much-anticipated book about a little-known incident in Winston Churchill’s tenure as Britain’s Prime Minister during World War II.

After completing an undergraduate degree in history and political science at Simon Fraser University, Paul McNicholls spent a career in insurance claims investigation. When nearing retirement, he was approached by the UK publisher Helion and Company, and the result was his first book “Journey Through the Wilderness.” He is now writing “Canadians on the Veldt,” which chronicles Canada’s role during the South African War between 1899 and 1902. In 2021, Paul received the Howard Browne Medal from the Victorian Military Society.



History is the story of our humanity – and inhumanity – and is essential for understanding our present and shaping our future. In this podcast, our two lay historians discuss the importance of history and memoir writing through a study of Fatherland: A Memoir of War, Conscience, and Family Secrets by Burkhard Bilger.

In this discussion, we explore the complexity of historical figures' actions and motivations and the importance of writing histories with personal stories and critical analysis.

Throughout the podcast, the authors share their writing and research techniques and reflect on the ways in which history, war, and personal growth can all intersect.

This podcast is an informative exploration of the human condition, and it will appeal to anyone interested in history, memoir, or the power of storytelling.

Topics in this episode

The appeal of history and writing books. (2:27)

History and its importance in understanding society. (6:22)

A family history book set during WWII. (8:48)

Nazi history, current events, and personal perspectives. (15:31)

The complexity of a historical figure's actions and motivations. (18:00)

Writing histories with personal stories and strategic analysis. (19:58)

Winston Churchill's actions during World War II. (24:31)

Writing, character flaws, and personal curiosity. (29:16)

History and politics with a focus on the first half of the 20th century. (34:19)

Nazis meeting to manage the "final solution" of Jews. (35:44)

History, gray areas, and personal stories. (39:06)


Fatherland: A Memoir of War, Conscience, and Family Secrets

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