Ricky D. Phillips styles himself as a ‘Military Historian’. His work (which apparently consists of a few pop-history books and a blog) is full of sensationalist, grandiose conspiracy theories that he holds tell the ‘true story’ of something-or-other that no one else (including actual historians) has ever figured out. This sort of writing is a big red flag by itself, so it’s no surprise that with little bit of digging, it becomes clear that Ricky D. Phillips is not a historian. There’s no evidence of bona fides such as university qualifications or peer-reviewed academic publications (not in journals nor academic presses). He has been called a ‘Military Historian’ only by himself, and in a few slow-news-day tabloid articles about his book that evidently took him at his word without bothering to do any further research.
NOTE: This article has been updated on both January 1st, 2019 and May 12th, 2019. Continue reading to see the updates.
Ricky has admitted his lack of historical background himself in the past, in 2015 stating on his own website that he has never studied History. Yet now, three years later, he’s calling himself a ‘Military Historian’ at every opportunity.
He appears to have been emboldened by the release of his book, The First Casualty, published in 2017. This book, however, is self-published. In an effort to lend his work an aura of faux authenticy, he established his own publishing company that just so happens to only publish his own books, BEIC Books, LTD. This company then published The First Casualty. In the book, he takes the testimonies of British soldiers who claim to have killed upwards of 70+ Argentines in the initial invasion of the Falklands at face value, when both sides officially acknowledge the death toll as 1. This is an absolute bombshell claim that would turn the study of the war on its head, so the facts that this book has not been cited in a single academic work in two years and that it was not published by an academic press speak for themselves: it’s evidently just not an academic-quality book. Rather, it’s a pop-history book telling a grand nationalist narrative. Pop-history writing may be fun and it may sell copies, but those that write it are not historians unless they have the qualifications and the academic publications to match.
What about his bona fides? Well, as mentioned, it appears that Ricky D. Phillips has no relevant university qualifications. According to his LinkedIn page, he holds an Engineering qualification from Southgate Technical College, but this obviously does not qualify one as a historian. There is no indication that he even holds a Bachelor’s degree in History, let alone a Master’s or a PhD–the latter generally being the bare minimum qualification required to be considered a historian.
Is Ricky D. Phillips employed as a professional academic historian by a university? There’s no evidence of this whatsoever; he has no official ties to any institution, which should be obvious given the lack of evidence of the required qualifications. He has stated that he’s been a guest lecturer at the University of Glasgow, but whether this claim is true or false, it would not make one a historian.
As far as journal articles, citations, and reviews for his book go, Ricky also comes up short. Despite claiming in a Reddit discussion [archive link] that he has been “published in many journals… we’re talking many hundreds”, as of the time of writing, searching powerful academic aggregators such as JSTOR, academia.edu, and Google Scholar for his name pulls up zero results; he seems unaware of the fact that it’s very easy to disprove that claim, as essentially every single academic journal is archived online in searchable databases. He has also never been cited in an academic work, nor have his books been reviewed in an academic journal, despite his lofty claims about the importance of his aforementioned book. In another comment, Ricky claimed that “he has had dozens of academic journals published after him”. It’s unclear what this statement actually means; he seems to think that academic journals are some sort of book published by specific authors. Despite claiming to be a well-known and revered historian, this combined with his claim that he’s been published in ‘many hundreds of journals’ make it clear that he has little idea of what academic journals are or how they function. This is a basic fundamental of academia that any undergraduate student should understand without ambiguities, let alone a ‘historian’.
I am not the first one to call Ricky’s qualifications into question, either. In 2017, under the alias ‘Real History Man’ (yes, really), he made repeated attempts to edit the Wikipedia article for the 1982 Invasion of the Falkland Islands, citing his own book and making grandiose claims about himself in the process. Or, rather, he was pretending to be “a friend”, but the writing style and the vitriol make it obvious that this ‘friend’ is the man himself. Ricky was challenged by other Wikipedia editors to provide information on his qualifications and credibility. This resulted in a discussion in which Ricky wrote long, bizarre diatribes about how qualifications don’t matter in the History field, appealed to his friendships with historians, and made veiled threats at other users, all while providing absolutely no information about said qualifications. In the end, the community unanimously concluded, much like I have, that he had no historical credibility whatsoever.
Indeed, the Wikipedia affair seems to have been a bit of a hit to the ego, as he came back this December after about a year’s absence and tried to erase any evidence of it ever having occurred, deleting the entire discussion:
Despite all of this, Ricky has nonetheless gotten himself an audience on the less formal website Quora, where anyone can post anything about anything and make any claims about themself that they want without being questioned at all. Here, he peddles more conspiracy theories, such as the bizarre idea that the Argentine death toll in the Falklands War was at least 1,500, substantially more than the official toll of 649. While he may get the attention he craves in a community with such low-quality discourse, he nonetheless can’t account for the fact that no one other than him has made such a claim in the 35 years since the war, nor has there been any of the massive media scandals that 900+ additional, unacknowledged dead obviously would have caused. He seems to rely on the fact that his audience doesn’t care enough to undertake even the most basic Google search to see that there’s been literally nothing about this printed ever, not in Spanish and especially not in English; apparently the families of 900+ people who’ve been erased from history just don’t care enough to bring it to light. When challenged on this, he repeatedly makes unsourced claims about how there actually has been a grand scandal, it’s just apparently never been mentioned anywhere on the entire internet nor anywhere else.
His eccentricity doesn’t stop there. In his incredibly weird ‘about the author’ page, clearly written by himself, he states that he has a “reputation for a fresh, fast-paced, narrative style combined with painstaking and in-depth research” and that he is “considered one of the foremost ‘new historians’ in the industry today.” I’m not sure who considers him to have this reputation, but there’s certainly no one out there saying it other than himself. Ditto on the ‘new historians’ bit; the only result on the entire internet for “Ricky D. Phillips” and “New Historian” is this very page itself. He also seems to think that listing people who he’s friends with gives him legitimacy as a historian, doing so numerous times on this page and frequently whenever his credentials are questioned. Unfortunately, having friends with qualifications obviously doesn’t qualify one as a historian by osmosis. He goes on to make dozens more lofty claims about himself, few of which can actually be confirmed.
This is pretty much the theme with Ricky D. Phillips. Every single claim about his fame and importance stems from himself, with there being little to no evidence beyond his own word. In any sort of discussion about him or his sensationalistic work (which always makes the sort of ridiculous, over the top claims that actual historians very rarely make), he will inevitably show up and repeat the same talking points about how being a historian doesn’t require qualifications or academic publications, that he’s incredibly famous and has friends in high places, etc, etc, and promptly provide absolutely no real evidence of any of that; hardly the sort of behaviour characteristic of an actual historian.
It’s unclear whether Ricky is conscious of the fact that he’s not what he claims to be, or if he actually believes it all. He doesn’t seem to be aware of how easy it is to disprove his claims about himself, achievable with a simple Google search. This points to him either being a bit unversed on the power of the internet, or him actually having convinced himself that he is some sort of important and celebrated historian who has uncovered dozens of secrets in dozens of different areas of study that actual, bonafide historians who’ve spent years exhaustively dedicating themselves to one area just happened to miss.
Writing pop history is hardly a crime, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a history enthusiast/buff who isn’t a bonafide historian. But Ricky D. Phillips presents himself as a renowned historian and his self-published, unscholarly writing as authoritative and groundbreaking when both he and them are evidently anything but. If you somehow found your way here after the sea of stuff that he’s written about himself just didn’t add up… Well, now you know.
UPDATE MAY 12TH 2019:
Starting off with the lighter side, Ricky apparently recently tried to pass off a poor hoax photo as a real photo of the Loch Ness Monster, which got him some airtime in the tabloids (he seems to survive off tabloid attention). However, the Loch Ness Monster hunter community investigated his claims and found that he was trying to pass off a log as the monster. See the drama here. As we all know, real historians try their hand at Nessie hoaxes for some fleeting publicity all the time!
Now, onto the really fun stuff: Ricky was recently mistakenly invited to an academic conference on the Falklands. Multiple attendees, including journalist and OBE Jimmy Burns, relayed their disbelief that he was invited. Burns states this on Ricky in his account of the event:
Thankfully the navy man had the courtesy not to refer to dead floating Argentines as ‘Erics’ (sic) ,a term invoked by another speaker who had not fought in the war, and had no academic qualification but who still presented himself as a leading Falklands War historian while unashamedly promoting his book as the definitive account of the resistance put up by British marines on the first day of the invasion.
This speaker found himself upsetting several other delegates including the war’s honoured official historian Sir Lawrence Freedman who challenged his claims of exclusivity, failing to provide supportive evidence, and simply making factual errors.
I have also been contacted by two other attendees who corroborate Jimmy Burn’s version of events. Not only that, but according to each of them:
- Ricky claimed that he is often pulled aside by shadowy figures (think Men in Black) who hand him secret documents for his eyes only relating to the truth about the Falklands war. What can we say to that but “LOL?”
- In the presence of so many people familiar with the islands, Ricky was quickly forced to admit that he has never even been to the Falklands. If this is true, it would mean that his book is just a huge fabrication, since it’s based partly around his Falklands escapades and he constantly claims to have his finger on the pulse of everyone in Stanley.
- His talk was so bad that the organiser didn’t even want to give him the usual question time afterwards. However, everyone was so incensed by the fact that such a clear charlatan had been allowed to speak, that they demanded to be allowed to ask questions. He was absolutely destroyed. In the words of one of my sources:
He got up, spoke for half an hour rambling, presenting his ‘evidence’ and not citing any of his sources. I was sat open-mouthed that he was even invited to a serious conference. The organiser intervened at the end and wanted Ricky to answer questions over coffee informally in the lobby. The veterans objected to this though, and insisted we break, and then do a formal Q&A. When we returned, he got his arse handed to him. Academics, veterans, islanders all ripped into his conspiracy bollocks and he was brow-beaten.
I only wish I had been there to see it. Unfortunately, Ricky is not held to any sort of standard since he’s just a random nobody, while those who were disgusted by his audacity are actual academics and professionals with reputations to uphold. So they can’t get into a back and forth with him, like he does with practically everyone. Must be nice.
Ricky has also since posted his own review of the conference. Aside from the fact he’s plainly lying about what happened, he has reviewed the talks of every single speaker. This is incredibly disrespectful: it is not only a violation of Chatham House Rules, but in doing so he is compromising the research of everyone who presented. If his ridiculous talk and conduct throughout the event doesn’t already ensure he will not be invited to another, that certainly will.
UPDATE JANUARY 1ST 2019: Our friend himself has posted a reply to this post! In it, he addresses absolutely none of the points raised, instead going on a bizarre rant (including tons of empty references to his “friends” and quotes made up on the spot, as usual) that does nothing to refute the fact that he clearly isn’t a historian – still no qualifications nor publications, just self-sourced bragging. Rather than respond to his frankly sad schoolyard insults, I’ll just quote some of his clear misunderstandings about how basic academic study works.
No peer reviews eh? So Declan Power who brought the world “Siege of Jadotville” or how about Angus Konstam
Ricky seems to think that because his friends liked his book, this counts as “peer review”. Except peer review is a blind process whereby experts, who do not know who a work’s author is, scrutinise it to ensure its academic rigour. It is, by design, impartial, and anyone who is known to the author would never peer review their work as this represents a clear conflict of interest. For a ‘historian’, Ricky seems to understand very little about the basics of the scholarly publishing process.
you might be interested to know that Tony and I meet now and again and had the discussion about academia… he said I was way past any degree in the subject, and it would waste my time, whilst even a PhD would be simply vanity on my part because I seriously don’t need one at my level.
Here is what Prof. Tony Pollard has to say about his own relationship with Ricky D. Phillips. His words are in Grey. I think they speak for themselves, particularly the parts about Ricky being a ‘needy writer’ and talking to him being like ‘banging your head against a wall.’
Ah but George did a Bachelor’s degree once, so of course, in three years he feels he absolutely should know it all… spending all that time reading books written by historians such as me
Actually, no one is reading books like this in university. They’re reading peer-reviewed books published by academic presses.
Tony and I meet now and again and had the discussion about academia… he said I was way past any degree in the subject, and it would waste my time, whilst even a PhD would be simply vanity on my part because I seriously don’t need one at my level. I’ve even taught his top final year PhD class myself.
Again, Ricky quotes his best mate who 100% totally said this, yet even the quote doesn’t help him. Ricky, as someone with no relevant qualifications or scholarly history, doesn’t even meet the minimum requirements to apply for PhD candidature anywhere in the world, so I don’t think he needs to worry much about getting that “simple vanity”. And that last sentence? There is no such thing as a “top final year PhD class”. That’s a bizarre assertion. People do PhDs at their own pace, there are no set year levels. Most PhD students also work independently and do not actually take classes in the first place. Not to mention that Glasgow University currently has a whopping 8 students studying PhDs in military history, all of them in areas entirely unrelated to anything Ricky has ever written about, and most of them dealing with deep theoretical concepts of which he has no expertise. Who exactly is Ricky ‘teaching’ here?
As to these… what did you call them, George?… “slow-news-day tabloids” I’d list a nine page spread in Britain at War Magazine, a major article in British Forces News, Globe & Laurel Magazine, The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Express, The North London Times, Plymouth Herald, Portsmouth News, Ancient Origins Magazine
Yep, tabloids giving you a platform to advertise your book doesn’t make you a historian. He could list 500 more and that’d still be the case.
You, George, are a liar…… TFC has NEVER been self-published
As you can see in this link, Ricky D. Phillips is the Director of BEIC Books, which has only ever published his own books. This is public record.
I’d say that being in the Society for Army Historical Research’s most influential people in military history
There is not only no mention of Ricky D. Phillips anywhere in association with the Society for Army Historical Research, but they do not have a list of “most influential people in military history”. The only source for this claim is, you guessed it, Ricky D. Phillips. He’s actually misconstruing the time he was asked to recommend some books for Christmas back in 2014 for the SAHR’s social media as something much more than it was. He’s not cited as a historian, but as the “Group Manager of the ‘British Military History’ group, one of the fastest growing Linkedin social media groups”. Again, running a social media page doesn’t make one a historian. The Society engages in plenty of less formal endeavours such as this one, while their formal, academic outlet is their own academic journal–in which Ricky D. Phillips has predictably never been published.
Here we deliberately catch George doctoring the evidence to suit the case, and perhaps worse that George calls himself “Lord BigButts” to the amusement of all! Notice how he claims that I said “Dozens of Academic Journals” where in fact, as you read my own words, I have not… and this would naturally not include JSTOR et al, since I never claimed to have been an academic
I knew that Ricky would claim he never said these things, so I made sure to archive the link to this discussion (which was already included in the original post, he apparently missed it) to ensure he couldn’t delete the evidence. If you click this link, you’ll find this quote from Ricky:
“I certainly have had dozens of academic journals published after me, you simply didn’t actually look.”
He also admits plainly that he’s not an academic. If you’re not publishing academic history, then you’re not a historian–quite simple.
You know we covered when a lie is or is not a lie above? – Bingo… George knows this one too! Apparently I’m on Wikipedia! – Nope, sorry, not me!
Ricky tries to claim that the guy on Wikipedia who types exactly like him, with all the same vitriol, etc, is not him, as if it’s not painfully obvious. Not sure who he thinks he’s fooling, you just need to read both of their posts to see that it’s obviously him.
Indeed another report just yesterday (IN SPANISH) showed that despite admitting to 649 men killed, 123 of which in unmarked graves, there have been two mass graves of Argentine soldiers found, outside of this number, and one of these I mentioned years ago
Ricky cites “sources”, which he of course never links. In this case though, I know the article he’s referring to. It’s this one [link]. The article says nothing about “two mass graves found”. It’s merely an update on a decades-long program to identify the bodies of missing soldiers, all of whom are already acknowledged and accounted for in the 649 figure, as obviously it includes soldiers who are MIA as well as KIA. Here’s a quote from the article translated into English:
“121 graves were affected by this humanitarian program, with 122 bodies (in one they found the remains of two soldiers). Of these 122 Argentine soldiers “known only to God”, 106 have been identified. This means that 16 lack identification.”
You can find a list of 100 of these soldiers at this link (the other 6 were identified after it was posted). You can then go to this website, which is a searchable database of the Argentine dead/missing during the war. Search any of the names and you’ll find them listed there in the official 649 death toll.
Mr Phillips is clearly trying to mislead people who don’t speak Spanish or who are too lazy to click the link into believing that the article is saying something entirely different to what it’s actually saying. On the odd occasion that he actually provides a source for something, this is a recurring theme.
So DO Google me, anyone, or just read what the real historians, my peers and also my readers, including the men themselves, are saying… because this FULLY PUBLISHED, scholarly style I have has engaged with tens of thousands of readers in 40 countries around the globe and has made me who and what I am… not some keen history buff sat smugly behind his undergraduate degree, but a world-renowned military historian who has indeed been in hundreds of publications, journals and articles, as well as numerous TV and Radio appearances… perhaps George’s Google is broken or perhaps, he has crossed the one line which we real historians never do… that of BIAS.
After a long diatribe where he provides absolutely zero evidence of any bonafide credentials (yet claims to be “fully published” and “scholarly”, still), Ricky proclaims an emphatic victory, in which he directly contradicts his earlier statement by claiming to have been published in “hundreds of journals”. Being in some tabloids, publishing articles on conspiracy theory websites and your own blog, and a few TV appearances doesn’t make someone a historian–qualifications and academic publications do.
he has crossed the one line which we real historians never do… that of BIAS.
A guy who constantly makes ridiculous claims that fail to account for the most basic possible questions accuses another of “bias”. Ricky also shows his complete lack of understanding of the historical process. He parrots the common layman idea that the study of history can ever be ‘unbiased’ and that there’s such a thing as an objective, ‘done’ version of history.
In reality, history involves many different competing interpretations and objectivity is unachievable; there is no such thing as an unbiased historian (nor is he ‘unbiased’ himself, considering he peddles conspiracy theories that further his British exceptionalist agenda). Ricky might’ve learned this if he’d done undergrad, where you actually learn a lot more about methodology and historiography than you do “read history books.” Ricky’s interpretations of history have competed, and they’ve quite clearly been found wanting, considering that they’ve never even been cited once in a scholarly work.