Ice Crusaders: A Memoir of Cold War and Cold Sport

Ice Crusaders: A Memoir of Cold War and Cold Sport

by Thomas Wolf

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A blend of memoir and history detailing the story of soldier-athletes who comprised the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.


A blend of memoir and history detailing the story of soldier-athletes who comprised the 10th Mountain Division during World War II.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wolf makes a bid for his proverbial 15 minutes of fame with a maddening memoir that shows him to be a dedicated skier and an even more dedicated mountain-warrior wannabe. He appears to have spent a lot of time associating with veterans of the 10th Mountain Division and their WWII German and Austrian counterparts, and he uses his proximity to veterans as a starting point for his brief, uncritical excursions into the 10th Mountain's equally brief, but highly distinguished, combat performance. The vignettes drawn from Wolf's own extensive experiences as a skier and mountaineer are more effective than anything he has to say about warfare. Mesmerized by the concept of a fundamental brotherhood of mountain warriors, he romanticizes mountain combat as a tournament of sportsmen in arms. The most jarring notes, however, come from Wolf's tortured efforts to explain his Vietnam-era choices and behaviors. He opposed the war, married to escape the draft and considered requesting political asylum in Germany before eventually obtaining conscientious objector status and performing his alternative service as a hospital orderly. But Wolf's repeatedly asserted claim to veteran status comes across as a desire to have it both ways, an unacknowledged repudiation of his own decisions. His dismissal of post-traumatic stress disorder as a justification for self-pity is just the most outrageous instance of apparent macho posturing. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
Do snow and skiing and the high backcountry engender a noble spirit, such as that displayed by WWII's 10th Mountain Division? Wolf (Literature and Ecology/Colorado Coll.) muses on the question in this absorbing memoir. Wolf was born in 1945 and thus fell a couple decades short of serving in the fabled 10th Mountain Division, with its white anoraks, on Riva Ridge and Monte Cassino. But he did fall under its spell as he grew up in Colorado, where the peaks are lofty and the winters long, and where the 10th did its training. Wolf's adolescence was bracketed by McCarthy at one end and the war in Vietnam on the other, so it is understandable that a certain fatalism shaped him as a boy and continues to do so. Thus, a central tenet of this book: war will always be with us. How, then, Wolf wonders, does a man comport himself in its eventuality? Vietnam was an abomination in Wolf's eyes, so he became a conscientious objector with a decidedly and appealingly radical bent. Thirty years earlier, though, America had been in an everyman's war (everywoman's, too, notes Wolf), where the perceived attributes of the 10th-dignity and keen intelligence-could be brought into play by fighters who "saw themselves as fellow soldiers and athletes," who "never saw themselves as victims of anyone." And though Wolf holds up the 10th's fighters as exemplars of the warrior code, he takes pains to separate the mythical 10th from the real. Their chosen fighting venue-rock, ice, and snow-may have conferred upon them a seeming purity of purpose; but, as Wolf reveals, they also had a reputation as elitists and self-promoters, internally riven by class and educational background. Like the 10th, Wolf, too, is anintriguing composite: part Country Joe McDonald, part soldier-scholar, both parts guided by common decency. (b&w photos, not seen) .

Product Details

Rinehart, Roberts Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.02(w) x 9.04(h) x 0.80(d)

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