Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Up Front by Bill Mauldin

No, this wasn't the best book I've ever read, but I figured I'd do a post on it.
The language isn't very good, so don't expect an uplifting read if you happen upon it.

I found this book interesting because it takes a look at the frontlines of the battlefield through the eyes of a cartoonist. He goes around the battlefield and pretty much sums up each of his experiences in a cartoon or two. I found that these guys really had to deal with a lot more hardships than I could ever imagine. Fortunately the book doesn't really go into gory detail about the details of fighting, but it does go into the details about the accommodations, problems, and humor of everyday life on the front line. He really does a good job of making the reader feel like they are right there with him in the mud and the grime of battle. He illustrates very well what a treat a barn full of hay is, and he finishes with a sobering look about how real and awful war is.

"The day after the cartoon was printed a pleasant old colonel cam into the Stars and Stripes office. He was quite evidently a new arrival, for he didn't know I was seditious. He hadn't bothered to study the drawing, which had taken a crack at the rigid regulations with regard to soldierly conduct behind the lines. All the colonel knew was that when you weren't fighting you were supposed to have a military bearing. So he had a brilliant and highly original idea which he though certain to win him a promotion or the Legion of Merit. He wanted, to take the original drawing and have thousands of huge poster copies printed. he planned to plaster them on every wall and telephone in Italy, as an admonition to the GI's to "ack like sojers" I was in a spot. He really looked like a nice guy, and I didn't want him slaughtered like a lamb, when he would probably start drawing retirement pay in a couple of years. But surely I couldn't say, "Sir, that is a treacherous cartoon, made to cause riots and rebellion among soldiers, and it would be a mistake to make posters of it and aid and abet my cause." Instead, I gave him the drawing and, with brigadier's stars in his eyes, he headed for the door. "The general will love this," he said. I'm sure the general did."

"Religious services in battle zones offer weird contrast ot bursting shells and the twisted wreckage of war. It is strange to see reverence helmeted and armored."

"I'm a cartoonist, maybe I can be funny after the war, but nobody who has seen this war can be cute about it while it's going on."

1 comment:

Mr. Worm said...

Huh... Very interesting. Thanks for writing the post! Sorry I didn't comment sooner... I forgot :'(