I have just finished reading "Band of Brothers" (about E Company of 101st Airborne Division) written by Stephen E. Ambrose who also wrote "Pegasus Bridge". One thing that Ambrose learnt that after "Pegasus Bridge" where he did not let the men of Major John Howard's D Company, Oxfordshire and Bucks Light Infantry, or the other 30 British gliderborne troops he had interviewed review his book before publication, he allowed the men of E Company to review the manuscript to correct inaccuracies and conflicting accounts. Ambrose admitted that he now wishes he allowed the "Pegasus Bridge" men to review before publication.
One thing, incidentally, that struck me about the Band of Brothers
was not how much the front-line soldiers knew of the conflict, but how little. The "Battle of the Bulge" narrative here is especially illustrative. The 101st was trucked out in the middle of the night ... E Company was dumped in a forest, they dug holes, were shelled like shit, did a few local assaults and then they were trucked out. You will thus get the detail of a tiny fragment of the war from them, but don't expect the bigger picture.
When it comes to modern wars ... of which the occupation of Iraq was a good example ... one must also remember that communications are far better. Thus, London is in the decision-making loop. Even local tactical decisions can sometimes require command approval from London, and even political input.
This drives a hole through the "I was there" meme. In telling the whole story, no one was "there". The trouble is that "there" is a multitude of locations and no one can be in several places, in different countries, at the same time.