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Up Front Hardcover – December, 2000

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Up Front + Bill Mauldin's Army: Bill Mauldin's Greatest World War II Cartoons + Willie & Joe: The WWII Years
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Speaking of Americana . With the memory of the war as fresh as the ink on the pages, Mauldin's text and drawings of the American dogface GI in combat became a classic the minute it rolled off the press in 1945 and remains an essential title for libraries. This edition contains a new foreword by Stephen Ambrose.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.


The best book about war and life in an army...a classic of both prose and pictures. -- R.C. Harvey, The Comics Buyers Guide, 5 January 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition (December 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393050319
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393050318
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,606 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

93 of 96 people found the following review helpful By Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on May 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It's a gift, the ability to draw, to have perspective, to create, to be able to portray human misery as humor, for a reader to see the image and words and turn to laughter. Bill Mauldin had this gift that gained prominence in a time of war where talents rise to their greatest heights or sink to their lowest depths.

Truth is portrayed in humor or the humor isn't funny. Sergeant Bill Mauldin, an infantryman, barely twenty, and serving in Italy picks up a pencil and anything he can draw on, and begins to sketch two characters named Willy and Joe, two, brave, disheveled, irreverent, likeable and crusty infantry soldiers that give meaning to the names infantrymen were referred to as: ground-pounders, dogfaces, legs, and grunts. Mauldin portrays their grim and grimy existence with fatalistic pictures and captions--or grunts. One called "Breakfast in Bed" finds one of them waking up under a cow's udders, or the one where both are in a rain-filled foxhole and Willie touches Joe's shoulder saying, "Joe, yesterday ya saved my life an' I swore I'd pay ya back. Here's my last pair o' dry socks," or with rain pelting down on a scrawny dog facing the opening of their make-shift shelter, one of them says: "Let'im in. I wanna see a critter I kin feel sorry fer." My all-time favorite is a drunk German staggering toward a hidden Willie and Joe, holding a bottle of schnapps, unaware that he is wandering into American lines: "Don't startle `im, Joe. It's almost full."

These cartoons show the comradeship that soldiers developed for each other that would last a lifetime. Each man knew each other better than his own family or spouse ever would, and they could see the good and the bad in everything.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Jordan M. Poss VINE VOICE on March 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is, without a doubt, the greatest book on the World War II infantryman ever written. Why? Because it was written by and infantryman, for infantrymen. Sgt. Bill Mauldin claims on the first page that his business is drawing, not writing, and that his text is only there to back up the cartoons. However, the text is some of the most endearing, personal, and excellent works on WWII ever. Mauldin brings the war down from the lofty views of Generals and reporters to the personal level, to the point of giving you a basic narration of the average day in the life of an infantryman. The cartoons, naturally, are the main power behind the book, and they are, even to this day, still hilarious. Hilarious, but at the same time showing you the gripes and hardships of the average GI during the war. If you want to experience World War II from the GI's perspective, read this book!
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Robert I. Hedges HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on November 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was first introduced to Bill Mauldin by my late father who gave me his battered copy of "Up Front" that was printed in 1945. He told me when he gave it to me that it was his favorite book growing up (he was age 10-15 during World War Two) and that I should read it to better understand the human side of war. He couldn't have been more correct. I came to understand that even when the cause is noble, and the enemy leadership is evil, that war is a horrible thing, even when it is necessary.
Bill Mauldin, who died recently, was a national treasure. His characters Willy and Joe (themselves a national treasure) form the crux of his cartoons from that era, and they embodied everyman in the heroes of the war. For his work he eventually won a Pulitzer prize. Mauldin claimed to be more of a cartoonist than a writer, but the writing is, in my opinion, at least the equal of the cartoons. For people who have never been exposed to the human level, front line realities of war, this book is vital for understanding the men who fight for the freedoms we enjoy.
This is a wonderful book, and I wish that every high school student was required to read it when they studied World War Two in Europe. I am so glad to see it back in print. While I cherish the copy that my Dad gave me many years ago it is now very fragile. I am grateful to have a new copy to thumb through on my bookshelf. If you read any one book this year on World War Two, this has to be it. It will make you proud to be an American, and proud of the men who fought for freedom sixty years ago.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Cartoonists have an incredible ability to capture human situations with simple drawings and a bit of text and Bill Mauldin was one of the most unique. He is best known for his drawings of Joe and Willie, two combat veterans slogging their way through WWII. In his drawings, you see the despair, fatigue and determination of dirty, tired men who always seem able to take the next objective and move one step closer to the end of the war. Whatever they are doing, there is a perpetual slump in their shoulders, clearly demonstrating an overpowering weariness with the war and what it all means.
Mauldin was drawing from personal experience, having spent a great deal of time on the bitterly contested Italian front, particularly at the Anzio landing. The book is a combination of narrative and cartoons that he drew while in the field. To his credit, Mauldin also ran afoul of some superior officers, which fortunately did little to alter his tactics. As one of his editorial superiors told him, "If you aren't making somebody mad, you're probably not worth reading."
This is a view of the war that is not about combat as much as the deprivation that the fighting foot soldiers endured. Days of being wet, eating cold food and sleeping in water were routine for the men who fought. His description of their joy in being able to bed down covered with hay in a barn is a classic definition of a simple pleasure.
Many books have been written about World War II in Europe and more continue to be published as additional material is released from the archives of nations. This is one that will not be improved upon as it does not involve decisions made by political or military leaders. It is about the simple soldiers who fought their way across Europe and endured because they had to.
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