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My Two Wars

Overview

Moritz Thomsen’s My Two Wars describes the great battles in his life – one against a rich, tyrannical father; the other against anti-aircraft gunners over Germany in 1943 and 1944. It was completed shortly before Thomsen’s death, and with it he concluded the story of his unusual life. In this posthumously published masterpiece he returns to his youth growing up in a wealthy Seattle household with the father he despised, and goes off to war in Europe as a bombardier with the Eighth Air Force. In his ...

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Overview

Moritz Thomsen’s My Two Wars describes the great battles in his life – one against a rich, tyrannical father; the other against anti-aircraft gunners over Germany in 1943 and 1944. It was completed shortly before Thomsen’s death, and with it he concluded the story of his unusual life. In this posthumously published masterpiece he returns to his youth growing up in a wealthy Seattle household with the father he despised, and goes off to war in Europe as a bombardier with the Eighth Air Force. In his introduction Page Stegner calls it “the best narrative account ever written of an imperfect and fragile human soul caught up in the air war over Germany.”
But it is Thomsen’s other war – his lifelong and monumental battle with his father – which begins and ends the book and makes My Two Wars one of the most outrageous and memorable father-and-son stories ever told.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“. . . one of the best American writers of the century. Thomsen’s writing about war, both philosophical and descriptive, is stunning.” Washington Post

“A portrayal of the World War II air war over Germany in a class with Joesph Heller’s Catch-22.” – Boston Globe

“Rarely has the similarity between war and family been as clearly drawn as it is in this scathing, unblinking memoir. . . . A remarkable work of brave, unwavering insight.” Kirkus (starred review)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"This is a book about my involvement with two outrageous catastrophes-the Second World War and my father." So begins this final work from Thomsen The Saddest Pleasure, 1990, who died only days after its completion. A late-blooming writer who published his first book in his mid-50s, the exquisitely talented author seems to have been capable of coexisting with war better than with his father. And no wonder: for while war at least has discernible rules of engagement, the elder Thomsen appears to have abided by only his own despotic code. No relationship was too sacred to be ruthlessly exploited, and no creature was too innocent to be spared his tyrannical rages. In one unforgettable scene, Thomsen senior methodically tortures to death the family dog, who has made the mistake of plundering the henhouse. Thomsen then attempts to distance himself from the abusive patriarch, but is endlessly drawn back, like a "well-hooked trout." A lesser writer would have difficulty adding the theme of warfare to such an intensely personal family memoir; yet Thomsen lays the groundwork early for transitions between the two. Thus war-which he experienced as a WWII bombardier -provides a psychological respite during which he views life "as a stretch of time connected on both ends to eternity and boiling with noble possibilities." May
Library Journal
A great if little-known writer, Thomsen was in his mid-fifties when he wrote his first book, Living Poor LJ 6/1/70, which chronicled his years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador. In addition, Thomsen wrote The Farm on the River of Emeralds LJ 7/78 and The Saddest Pleasure LJ 3/1/90. My Two Wars, completed only days before his death in 1993, describes the great battles of Thomsen's life. One was against a rich, tyrannical father; the other against German pilots and anti-aircraft gunners when he was a bombardier in 1943 and 1944. Thomsen had an abiding hatred for his father, and with this portrait he has created one of literature's great ogres. In contrast, Thomsen's account of his wartime experience is remarkable for its brutal honesty and almost tender sensuality. His memoirs will appeal to everyone, especially to those who have read his early books.-Michael Coleman, Regional Lib. for Blind & Physically Handicapped, Montgomery, Ala.
Kirkus Reviews
Rarely has the similarity between war and family been as clearly drawn as it is in this scathing, unblinking memoir.

Sylvia Plath's infamous, pseudo-fictional "Daddy" has nothing on Thomsen's father, a monstrously cruel and egocentric man who inflicted endless humiliations upon his family, particularly his son. But Thomsen (The Saddest Pleasure, 1990 etc.) isn't after pity or even revenge, only understanding. It would be too easy, even dishonest, to dismiss his father as a psychotic brute driven by nothing more than motiveless malignity. Behavior has its reasons, and no matter how unpleasant they might be, Thomsen refuses to flinch. His father, Thomsen writes, "wanted to love me and probably felt guilty because he couldn't, and he had discovered with the death of his father and sister that the one thing that they had to do before he could really love them was to die." When WW II came, Thomsen's father turned briefly affectionate, believing (even expecting) that his son would die in battle (leaving him to play the noble, grieving parent). It was a close call. As a bombardier in the Eighth Air Force Thomsen knew his chances of surviving the war were not good. Skill or intelligence made little difference; life and death were the province of mere chance. As friend after friend died, Thomsen sank into nihilistic depths of despair, made worse by his inability to shake the claims of honor, duty, and bravery that he no longer believed in. The horror, the waste, the sheer lunacy of war are expertly and unstintingly recounted here. Even in the shadows of old age (this book is being published posthumously), Thomsen's anger, fear, and pain burn through. He spares us, and himself, little. Few memoirs possess such a bleak sensibility, for Thomsen refuses all easy redemptions and false reconciliations. If there is hope here, it's only in his steadfast belief in the truth.

A remarkable work of brave, unwavering insight.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586421472
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press
  • Publication date: 12/31/2007
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 958,542
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Moritz Thomsen was a gifted and original writer and a genuine American rebel. In his late-forties, he joined the Peace Corps, and was sent to Ecuador where he lived as an expatriate for the next twenty-eight years and chronicled his life in four remarkable books that have been compared with the work of Thoreau and Joseph Conrad. His other titles include Living Poor, The Farm on the River of Emeralds and the Saddest Pleasure. He was born in 1915 in Hollywood, California and died in 1991 in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

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Read an Excerpt

THERE ARE THOSE who consider the little-known Moritz Thomsen one of the best American writers of the century," said the Washington Post in reviewing My Two Wars. Thomsen here describes the two great battles in his life – one against his rich, tyrannical father; the other against German pilots and anti-aircraft gunners in 1943 and 1944. Thomsen had an abiding hatred for his father, and with this portrait of the man he has given us one of literature’s true monsters. "Rarely has the similarity between war and family been as clearly drawn as it is in this scathing unblinking memoir," said Kirkus in its starred review of the book. "Thomsen’s writing about the war, both philosophical and descriptive, is stunning" said the Post.
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