World Within War: America's Combat Experience in World War II

Overview

Historian Gerald Linderman has created a seamless and highly original social history, authoritatively recovering and capturing the full experience of combat in World War II. Based on a vast array of letters, diaries, books, and a survey of veterans by the Army War College, The World Within War cuts through the many layers of protective shielding in soldiers' memoirs to find the shards of direct experiences that lie beneath. The Allied-Axis conflict was far more complex than even the Great War, and much has been ...
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Overview

Historian Gerald Linderman has created a seamless and highly original social history, authoritatively recovering and capturing the full experience of combat in World War II. Based on a vast array of letters, diaries, books, and a survey of veterans by the Army War College, The World Within War cuts through the many layers of protective shielding in soldiers' memoirs to find the shards of direct experiences that lie beneath. The Allied-Axis conflict was far more complex than even the Great War, and much has been made by previous historians of the differences between the European theater and the grimly barbaric Pacific. Yet Linderman demonstrates that there were more similarities than differences, that for American soldiers around the globe the war was disintegrative. Examining how Americans prepared for battle, how they treated each other, how they conceived of the enemy, how they thought of home, and how they reacted to battle itself, Linderman argues that ultimately, in both theaters, combat had its own grim logic, independent of causes and countries, flags and commanders.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Many works seek to explain why soldiers fight as they do, but this one stands out. Historian Linderman explores the social and psychological forces working on America's citizen-soldiers when they found themselves thrown into vast conflicts beyond their expectations. His Embattled Courage (Free Pr., 1989) has become a classic study of the factors that motivated America's Civil War armies. In the present study, Linderman blends the letters and memories of some 500 American mud soldierscombat infantrymen and Marinessent against a highly trained enemy in a highly mechanized war. Few real surprises emerge, but the material as a whole is impressive and useful, and the chapters on the differences between fighting the Germans and the Japanese are well worth the price. This book is more penetrating than Geoffrey Perret's There's a War To Be Won (LJ 9/1/91) and makes a nice companion to Michael Doubler's Closing with the Enemy (LJ 11/15/94).Raymond L. Puffer, U.S. Air Force History Prog., Edwards AFB, Cal.
NY Times Book Review
Destined to rank among the finest books about the American fighting experience in World War II.
Wall Street Journal
An emonent social historian who writes of combat like a novelist, Linderman tells what it was relaly like to experience combat in World War II.
Kirkus Reviews
An academic's largely successful and consistently absorbing effort to convey the varied experience of American fighting men during WW II. Drawing on a host of sources, Linderman (Embattled Courage, 1987) creates a vivid mosaic depicting how US soldiers and marines (albeit not airmen or sailors) dealt with the hard roles they played in bloody campaigns in arenas ranging from Guadalcanal, North Africa, and the Rhineland through Iwo Jima. Observing that most if not all American troops had little sense of personal mortality before enduring their baptism of fire, the author (History/Univ. of Michigan) documents how they adjusted to the grim realities and unrelenting shocks of battle. He goes on to show that rules of a sort governed engagements with German foes; in the Pacific theater, by contrast, both US and Japanese forces waged what another historian, John Dower, has called a "war without mercy." Covered as well are the tacit attractions of combat, the widespread disaffection of American enlisted men with their caste- conscious officers, fierce loyalties to comrades in arms, the average GI's reaction to USO performers and the Red Cross, and the editing of casualty reports, as well as the high cost of rugged individualism among American POWs, the adverse impact on morale caused by news of home-front profiteering, and the emotions of those whose only ticket off the line was a fatal or million-dollar wound. Among the notables (literary and otherwise) whose eyewitness testimony informs Linderman's tellingly detailed overview are Art Buchwald, John Ciardi, Orval Faubus, Tom Lea, William Manchester, Bill Mauldin, Audie Murphy, Ernie Pyle, and Eric Sevareid. A fine contribution to WW IIscholarship, one that atypically offers human-scale perspectives on those at the sharp end of the bayonet in a horrific global conflict.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780736648714
  • Publisher: Books on Tape, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Format: Cassette

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Battle: Expectation, Encounter, Reaction 3
2 Battle: Coping with Combat 48
3 Fighting the Germans: The War of Rules 90
4 Fighting the Japanese: War Unrestrained 143
5 Discipline: Not the American Way 185
6 The Appeals of Battle: Spectacle, Danger, Destruction 235
7 The Appeals of Battle: Comradeship 263
8 War Front and Home Front 300
Conclusion: The World Within War 345
Notes 363
References and Bibliography 383
Index 395
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