Thumbs up for Up Front by Bill Mauldin. History.
Bill Mauldin was a cartoonist working for U. S. Army papers during WWII. This book collects many of his cartoons, along with his thoughts. He is, appropriately for his topic, a plainspoken man who told the horrible truths about things. He is also sometimes very funny: as the best tellers of horrible truths always seem to be. If you want to read one book about what life (and death) was like for WWII soldiers, this is the one.
I don’t make the infantryman look noble, because he couldn’t look noble even if he tried. Still there is a certain nobility and dignity in combat soldiers and medical aid men with dirt in their ears. They are rough and their language gets coarse because they live a life stripped of convention and niceties. Their nobility and dignity come from the way they life unselfishly and risk their lives to help each other. They are normal people who have been put where they are, and whose actions and feelings have been molded by their circumstances. There are gentlemen and boors; intelligent ones and stupid ones; talented ones and inefficient ones. But when they are all together and they are fighting, despite their bitching and griping and goldbricking and mortal fear, they are facing cold steel and screaming lead and hard enemies, and they are advancing and beating the hell out of the opposition.
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