Paul Fussell, a distinguished literary historian, served as an infantry officer during World War II, and the experience has haunted him ever since. It has also informed his books, among them The Great War in Modern Memory
, a book that is part memoir, part cultural-critical study, and that is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of conflict. Fussell conjures the small details of battlefield experience -- the way a bird's song falls silent just before an artillery barrage, the curious plunking sound a spinning bullet makes, the drift of smoke over an obliterated village; he also evokes the Zeitgeist of the war years, an era when hometown grocery stores bore signs like this one: "Did you drown a sailor today because YOU bought a lamb chop without giving up the required coupons?"
From Publishers Weekly
Most of the men who fought World War II were young--with those over 27 or 28 likely to be called "Dad." For most of the troops, the war's purpose seemed remote and vague, according to Fussell. He contends that many Americans had little comprehension of Nazism; to "our boys" the war was about revenge against the Japanese. In this sequel to The Great War and Modern Memory , Fussell presents American and British soldiers as alcoholically insulated against reality, suffering boredom, absurdity, sexual deprivation and, above all, full of subversive contempt stoked by the official mix of optimism and euphemism that falsified the war experience. Separate chapters cover wartime rumors and blunders, service slang, the despair in the trenches, and the sanitized, sanguine messages emanating from radios, films, songs and high-minded literature back home. This brilliant, engaging cultural history quietly subverts our whitewashed collective memory of the war. Illustrations. First serial to the Atlantic.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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