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The gentle-eyed, baby-faced hero had won every decoration the United ...
The gentle-eyed, baby-faced hero had won every decoration the United States had to offer before he was eligible to vote and killed 240 enemy soldiers in the process. Luck made him a movie star. Always he tried to improve himself, but time and time again he was relegated to the 'horse operas', where as he wisecracked cynically, "it was the same old movie, only they changed the colour of the horse."
But there was a price to pay for his heroism in drugs, nervous tension and Murphy's addiction to violence. Even as a middle-aged movie star, he always slept with a .45 beneath his pillow, plagued by nightmares of the war. Murphy had been an ordinary boy, who had volunteered to go to fight and did so with exceeding bravery in the last 'good war'. He paid highly for that bravery and sense of duty to a country which had given him nothing save "malnutrition", as he used to quip. He was that last American Hero, who did as President Kennedy proclaimed, " Don't ask what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."
Even before his young life had really commenced, he had become a legend. But in the end 'Tinseltown' and the 'feather merchants' of Hollywood broke him.
As Time magazine commented on his death; "Audie Murphy belonged to an earlier, simpler time, one in which bravery was a cardinal and killing was a virtue... We shall not see his like again."
Posted April 16, 2003
This is a great, yet tragic, account of the life of a young man, Audie Murphy, who was forever damaged by war and forgotten by the country he loved and fought so gallantly and proudly for during the Second World War. Surprisingly enough there is very little literature on America¿s most highly decorated World War II soldier and so Charles Whiting¿s book, ¿American Hero: The life and Death of Audie Murphy¿ is very much welcomed and appreciated. In his book, Whiting tells the story of Audie Murphy, war hero, Hollywood movie star, and complex human being. It is a sad account, poignantly told by a writer who has clearly done his homework before putting pen to paper. Whiting covers Audie Murphy from his poverty stricken childhood years in Texas to the war in Europe, to Hollywood, and finally into the abyss of American memory. 'American Hero¿ gives the reader a rare opportunity to peek into the life of an American hero who was awarded every decoration America has to offer. Whiting portrays the story of a young Audie Murphy wounded in combat during World War II, his ability to recuperate from his physical injuries, and his inability to recover from the psychological and emotional scars inflicted upon him by the war. The author theorizes that it was the effects of ¿Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder¿ that plagued Audie Murphy¿s life from the battlefields of Europe to the last days of his all-too-short life. Murphy¿s extreme boredom with life, his reclusiveness, mood swings, gambling, temperament, depression, battle with addiction to sleeping pills, marital infidelities and other behaviors are keenly linked to behaviors attributed to PTSD. But most importantly, Whiting clearly shows the reader the portrait of a young man abandoned and forgotten by the country he so dearly loved and defended to his death in 1971. I could not help but to choke up with emotion at the author¿s thoughts on Audie Murphy¿s death and burial at Arlington National Cemetery. ¿At last America¿s most decorated soldier was alone with the `glorious dead¿. Now he would rest forever¿.¿ People who wish to read about American heroism and its cost should read ¿American Hero: The life and Death of Audie Murphy¿; it¿s a great book and should be made into a movie....
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