Frank LoBuono
4 min readFeb 22, 2024


Recently, I was fooling around with a TV and Apple stream box that I set up in my basement. It’s a finished basement so, you know, it’s perfect for the so-called man cave. At least I can pursue my various nefarious activities with my other equally depraved friends without exposing my most gentle partner, Amanda, to the indignity of such behavior.

Anyway, I was surfing through what was available to me for free with the streaming device. I had already stumbled upon some real gems like Wolf Hall on PBS Masterpiece Theater, when I saw a title, 1864. The photo associated with the program was of soldiers wearing blue uniforms and sporting the military weapons of the day. So, being a BIG Civil War buff, I thought it would be in that genre and I began watching the series.

Well, it IS a war drama but not about the American Civil War at all. It’s actually a Danish series about the Second Schleswig War between Denmark and the German Federation. It’s told in both Dutch and German with English subtitles.

The story is told through the eyes of a young, very hip, very rebellious young woman who takes a job caring for an old man whom she thinks is senile. After her initial aversion to the old man and the job, he wins her over by having her read a worn, dusty diary that tells the story of 2 bothers, their loves and friends in the crucible of this vicious and savage war. Once she begins reading, she cannot put the diary down.

Simply put, I was so overwhelmed by the production, in EVERY way, that I actually had a visceral reaction to it. I mean, it made me FEEL so many emotions. I laughed. I cried, etc. The acting and writing were simply superb. The battle scenes were staggeringly real AND effective. You could FEEL the terror of battle. In fact, there were times that the carnage of combat was so horrific that I had to look away. And when I did return my gaze, my eyes were filled with tears. I believe that, for as violent and gory as some of the scenes were, the bloodshed was NEVER simply gratuitous. The level of human savagery at such times was clearly displayed and, despite the very real moments of desperate bravery, always left me with this message: there is NO glory in war. And even the victors are effected. No one can survive that and NOT be changed.

There is a point at the end of one of the episodes that brings us to a special hospital after a particularly brutal battle. It is special because the patients are not suffering from physical wounds but, rather, ones of the mind and SOUL. Today, we call it PTSD. In those days it was known as Battle Fatigue. There bodies may be alive but their souls have died. This creates a type of emotional conflict that only be described as madness. And EVERONE is affected by it to different degrees. Yes, even the so-called victors suffer. The only thing that ultimately eases their pain is the belief that they won because their cause was more just.

But, doesn’t EVERY soldier feel that way?

This is another important theme expressed in the series.

They say that this cauldron of unspeakable brutality reveals both the best AND worst of human nature. And the battle scenes within the series reinforce this tenet.

There are warriors whose fierce ethos allows them to not only survive but actually thrive in battle. There are those whose lack of character labels them as cowards. And, of course, there are the rest of us who do our best to acknowledge our fear while at the same time finding the strength to overcome it. However, they are ALL human!

In the end, the message I took from this outstanding series, especially considering what is happening around the globe, is that there is no such thing as a good war. EVERYONE suffers. And, it begs the question; if we KNOW it to be so horrible, why do we keep waging it?

Rhetorical you say? Perhaps. But, I’d like to think we have the answer. We even have a word for it — LOVE.