This Library of America volume (along with its companion) evokes an extraordinary period in American history—and in American journalism. Martha Gellhorn, Ernie Pyle, John Hersey, A.J. Liebling, Edward R. Murrow, Janet Flanner: in a time when public perceptions were shaped mainly by the written word, correspondents like these were often as influential as politicians and as celebrated as movie stars.
This second volume traces the final eighteen months of the war: the campaign in Italy and the Southwest Pacific, the Normandy invasion, the island battles from Saipan to Iwo Jima, the liberation of Paris, the Battle of the Bulge, the fall of Berlin, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Here are Ernie Pyle bearing witness to war in the infantrymen’s foxholes; A.J. Liebling on D-Day; Robert Sherrod and Tom Lea landing with Marines and registering the horrors of Pacific Island warfare; Martha Gellhorn and Edward R. Murrow indelibly reporting on the liberation of Dachau and Buchenwald. Here too are two great book-length works, included in full: Bill Mauldin’s Up Front, the classic evocation of war from the GI’s point of view, complete with his famous cartoons, and Hiroshima, John Hersey’s compassionate account of the first atomic bombing and its aftermath.
Writers who covered the home front are included as well: S.J. Perelman on the absurdities of wartime advertising, James Agee on the impact of wartime newsreels, E.B. White on the United Nations conference in San Francisco. Here too are writers on aspects of the war still often neglected: Vincent Tubbs and Bill Davidson on the combat role of African-American soldiers; Susan B. Anthony II on working in the Navy Yard; I.F. Stone protesting U.S. government inaction in the face of Nazi genocide.
This volume contains a detailed chronology of the war, historical maps, biographical profiles of the journalists, explanatory notes, a glossary of military terms, and an index. Also included are thirty-two pages of photographs of the correspondents, many from private collections and never seen before.
LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
About the Author
Samuel Hynes is Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature emeritus at Princeton University. He was a Marines Corps pilot in World War II and the Korean Conflict.
Anne Matthews has served on the faculties of Princeton, Columbia, and New York University, and she was the first woman to direct the Princeton Writing Program.
Nancy Caldwell Sorel (1934-2015) was the author of The Women Who Wrote the War, among other works.
Roger J. Spiller is George C. Marshall Distinguished Professor of Military History (retired) at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This volume is probably just as good as volume 1, but I enjoyed it less. That's in part because almost 200 pages in the middle of this volume are from Bill Mauldin's book Up Front. While his cartoons are terrific, the text he wrote to go with them feels over-folksy and contrived. More broadly, the articles in this second volume are increasingly grim, reflecting a couple trends. First, as the war went on, military censors allowed journalists to report more graphic accounts of battles and their aftermath, so a number of these pieces are quite bloody. Secondly, I think the experience of war, and the ghastly reality of concentration camps, finally numbed many of the correspondents. In the first volume, the journalists are horrified by what they are seeing, but the effort to come to terms with it leads to thoughtful or probing analysis. By the last half of the war, I think many of the journalists were simply coarsened or overwhelmed, and were reporting exactly what they saw with much less capacity to find deeper meanings in it. Some of the more self-aware writers -- Ernie Pyle, whose columns are magnificent; Robert Sherrod; and Martha Gellhorn -- seem to say as much. Pyle, in August, 1944: "For some of us the war has already gone on too long. Our feelings have been wrung and drained; they cringe from the effort of coming alive again." The volume ends with a wise but difficult selection, John Hershey's article on the bombing of Hiroshima, which filled a full issue of the New Yorker in August 1946. The piece tracks the experiences of six residents of Hiroshima (and, more broadly, their relatives and neighbors) in the hours, days, and weeks following the dropping of the atomic bomb. Placed at the end of the volume, the article debouches the reader into a new, morally ambiguous and more complex post-war world.
One of the best anthologies to come out of WWII. This second volume begins with Ernie Pyle reporting from Italy in 1944 on how it feels to wait for an attack and ends with John Hersey on the bombing of Hiroshima. In between we have Homer Bigart on the signing of the formal surrender on board the USS Missouri: Brendan Gill's incomparable interview with a young bombardier home on leave after 25 missions over occupied Europe; Ernest Hemingway on his return to Paris and Martha Gellhorn on board the first hospital ship taking wounded off the coast of Normandy. Superb eye-witness reporting.