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Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II Paperback – June 7, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle left for the Pacific Theater in 1945, he told friends and colleagues that he felt sure he would die there. Pyle was right; on April 18th, a Japanese machine gunner killed one of America's most beloved personalities, sending the entire nation into shock and mourning. In the years since Pyle's death, his particular brand of journalism has been criticized: he's been accused of ignoring the stupidity of generals, of downplaying the horror of battle, and of presenting the war in a better light than it actually deserved to be portrayed. James Tobin, author of the impressive biography Ernie Pyle's War, does not deny that his subject often smoothed the jagged facts of war, but he provides both the context--an era and a war in which correspondents were expected to be "team players" who helped their side to win hearts and minds at home--and the personal conflict raised for Pyle by the often irreconcilable demands of telling the truth and building morale.

In addition to detailing Pyle's mostly unhappy personal life, Tobin also includes samples of his columns, proving once and for all that Pyle was more than just a hick who fell into reporting; the man had real, substantial talent, evidenced by his ability to put words together and his sensitivity to the subjects he wrote about. More than just a biography, Ernie Pyle's War is also a study of war, and the peculiar, twilight world of suffering and half-told truths to which men like Ernie Pyle were drawn. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Tobin pays homage to Ernie Pyle, America's most celebrated and beloved war correspondent. Living and working among the troops he so vividly chronicled, Pyle offered a unique insider's perspective of the harsh reality experienced by the common soldier during World War II. His superlative front-line coverage was devoured by citizens on the home front, who hungered for news of their "boys" in uniform. Unlike most other war correspondents, Pyle gave faces and voices to the ordinary GIs who populated the horrific battlefields of Europe, North Africa, and the Pacific Islands. Pyle's death in combat, alongside the ordinary soldiers he admired and extolled, served as an especially fitting postscript to his extraordinary career as an eyewitness to war. A respectful and insightful biography of a giant among journalists. Margaret Flanagan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reissue edition (June 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743284763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743284769
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #406,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Chef Scott VINE VOICE on February 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I first became aware of Ernie Pyle as a young lad when I ran across a dusty old paperback in my grandparents attic. I voraciously devoured each page only to be saddened when I realized he never made it home from the war.
Here is a wonderful tribute to Ernie and his easy going manner mirrored with his elequent style of writing. From the absense of life, back through his lifes struggles, this work is a journey into Ernie's life. It will bring back floods of memories from older readers and give new readers insight into a great journalist who was taken from us in the prime of his career.
Ernie's manner of writing was a joy to read and Tobin has done a superb job in relaying his stories in regards to the common man, and the private soldier.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Edward P. Matos on January 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
James Toban has written a stunning book in "Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II". Toban has succeeded in giving readers the rare opportunity to see the human frailties concealed within one of America's greatest and most valuable World War II correspondents.

James Toban present a picture of the complex Ernie Pyle; a man that entered the World War II carrying only a broken Remington typewriter and a deep desire to describe the life and hardships of the horrific world of the infantrymen to the American public. The reader will learn of the contradictory Ernie Pyle. The Ernie Pyle who despised war, but who could not stay away from the physical and emotional anguish of battle. The Ernie Pyle who loved his wife, but who continually left her behind to travel to the front lines. Ernie Pyle, the seemingly frail and terrified journalist who demonstrated his bravery by traveling to the front lines to be with and write about "his boys". Ernie Pyle, a genius for writing about the common soldier, but who needed constant reminding that he was the best at what he did. His articles became legendary and the hope and news link for Americans with loved ones in the front lines.

James Toban's "Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II " is a must read for World War II readers and all readers who wish to know about the human spirit and about a plain old fashion brave American.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By E. E Pofahl on April 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
The author, James Tobin, recounts Ernie Pyle's life from his childhood in Indiana to his 1945 death in the Pacific Theatre. The text notes "Sadness verging on bitterness always colored Ernie Pyle's memories of his early years," and relates that his adult personal life also was basically unhappy. In 1928 while working for the Washington Daily News, Pyle began writing an aviation column that ultimately was carried by all Scripps-Howard newspapers. Foreshadowing his WWII reporting style, Pyle' favorite subjects were the anonymous airmail pilots telling "tales of the pilot's feats of bravery and improvisation."
From 1935 to 1942 he roamed the western hemisphere where he wrote a column on his wanderings for the News and developed into a consummate craftsman of short prose and as Tobin noted "...in the process created "Ernie Pyle." Reflecting what would be his wartime style the author notes, "...he studied unknown people doing extraordinary things." The text relates Pyle's activities as a war correspondence in Tunsia where he shared the dangers and discomforts of the infantrymen at the front, and developed a bond with the American infantryman where his "writing transcended propaganda; it was richer, more heartfelt." At home Pyle's editors were delighted with the rapid growth of his popular column. After Tunisia, he followed the troops in the invasion of Sicily and later into Italy.
In Italy, he completed construction of his mythical hero, the long-suffering G.I. The text notes that the "inescapable force of Pyle's war writings is to establish an unwritten covenant between the soldier at the front and the civilian back home." Tobin also notes "Soldiers could see an image of themselves that they liked in his heroic depiction of the war...The G.I. myth worked for them too.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Virginia on November 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
"Ernie Pyle's War" by James Tobin was a thorough read. Tobin described Pyle down to the very last detail, uncovering almost every aspect of his life. After reading this book, the reader had a clear view into Pyle's mind and was able to recognize the feelings he possessed about his professional and private life. The way Tobin intertwined Pyle's messages home with biographical details along with interviews of acquaintances, made this story an easy read. "Ernie Pyle's War" earned five "stars."
Tobin's style of writing was one reason this book was so effective. He used partial quotes from Pyle to title his chapters, which brought an immediate sense of intimacy to the story. Tobin began the book with a chronological introduction to Pyle. This style of writing, although typical for biographies, was well suited for this story and not at all cliché. Readers were able to become acquainted with Pyle as a young man and then mature along with him as he grew into an established adult. By describing Pyle as a young man, readers were able to understand more clearly why he was the way he was as an adult.
Tobin used vivid descriptions to paint a picture of Pyle in the minds of the readers. This was an important aspect because Pyle's physical demeanor was one of the main problems and/or benefits in his life. As a child and young adult, his size hindered his relationships. But, as a war correspondent, the people saw Pyle as more of a hometown boy rather than a studious journalist. This added to his success as a war correspondent.
After transitioning into Pyle's career as a war correspondent, the story line became more tedious. Pyle was in and out of combat and the surface facts of his life were boring.
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