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The Great American World War II Novelists
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With Norman Mailer back in the news by being posthumously cancelled, iSteve commenter J.Ross offers Gore Vidal’s explanation for how Mailer had become so famous at age 25 in 1948 for his Pacific War novel The Naked and the Dead.

Mailer’s contemporary and nominal competitor Gore Vidal provided something of an Inside Baseball explanation: WWII was a gigantic generational test, the cultural atmosphere of the period immediately before was already charged with the idea of brash young men with new ideas (like every single 30s movie mentions this, if the movie is not about it), then-excellent English education guaranteed that the literary chops were there, and now, with the war won, the next set of Great Authors had the three things an aspiring author normally lacks: credibility, a story to tell, and a guaranteed audience. Just a matter of making it to a publisher as soon as possible. Vidal says that Mailer was “the first” of this set to turn in a great novel, and he may have been merely chronologically correct, or possibly he may have been the slightest bit arch.

To test this, I made up a list of twelve prominent American novelists who’d been in the military during WWII and when their war-related books were published.

Interestingly, Vidal beat Mailer to publication by two years, but his book based on his war years didn’t make as big of a splash.

In chronological order of publication:

John Hersey (b. 1914) published his Pulitzer Prize winning novel A Bell for Adano in 1944. There could be an interesting novel written about how the U.S. Army reinstalled Men of Respect to run Sicilian towns after they’d been suppressed by the northern Italian Mussolini, but I suspect this is not it. Hersey went on to be more famous for his journalism, such as Hiroshima.

Gore Vidal (b. 1925) enlisted in the Army at 17 after Pearl Harbor and spent three years in the Aleutian Islands. (My uncle Othmar was a weatherman there during the war — there’s a lot of weather in the Aleutians.) Wikipedia doesn’t say Vidal saw combat, but just getting to the Aleutians in the 1940s sounds scary. Vidal’s first novel was about war in the Aleutians, Williwaw (the local name of a violent wind — who knows, Vidal might have heard the name in a weather report over the radio by my uncle …), was written as a teenager on an Army supply ship and published in 1946. Presumably, it’s extremely good for a novel written by a teenager serving as a first mate in the Aleutians, but I’d never heard of it until now. As Vidal said about Mailer’s book, all you had to do was to be the first to write a great novel about the Big One.

James Michener (b. 1907) served in the Navy from 1941-1945, apparently as a historian. He visited 49 islands. His collection of short stories Tales from the South Pacific was published in 1947 and Rogers’ and Hammerstein’s adaptation South Pacific opened on Broadway in 1949.

A draftee, Norman Mailer (b. 1923) was a typist and cook in the Army in 1944-1945. His Wikipedia page said he volunteered to do a couple of dozen reconnaissance patrols in early 1945 in the Philippines and was involved in a few skirmishes with the Japanese. (Sounds plausible: Mailer didn’t lack courage.) His debut novel about an Army unit on a Pacific island, The Naked and the Dead, was published to acclaim in May 1948. I didn’t particularly like it, but it’s impressive. It’s not a fictionalized memoir like most first novels, it’s a psychological portrait of a couple of dozen quite different soldiers. It was easy to project then that if young Mailer is this good at the complex social novel (typically, a mature writer’s form) at age 25, by the time he peaks in, say, the 1970s or 1980s, he’d be up there with Dickens and Tolstoy. Well …

James Gould Cozzens (b. 1903), who turned 40 in 1943, was General H.A.P. Arnold’s stateside press secretary and thus was extremely well informed about how the Army Air Corps worked. His novel about a Florida airbase during the war, Guard of Honor, was published in September 1948.

Irwin Shaw (b. 1913) (Rich Man, Poor Man), who was in his 30s, was a writer in director George Stevens’ documentary unit. His WW2 novel Young Lions was published in October 1948.

James Jones (b. 1921) enlisted in the Army in 1939 at 17 and was wounded on Guadalcanal, perhaps in early 1943. From Here to Eternity about the old barracks Army in Honolulu leading up to December 7, 1941 came out in 1951 and was immediately made into a triumphant movie. His Thin Red Line about Guadalcanal is from 1962.

J.D. Salinger (b. 1919): “He was present at Utah Beach on D-Day, in the Battle of the Bulge, and the Battle of Hürtgen Forest.” After Germany surrendered, Salinger allowed himself to collapse and he spent a few weeks in a hospital for what’s now called PTSD. Judging from Holden Caulfield’s comments about his older brother coming back from the military and, apparently, breaking down, I’d suspect Salinger never fully recovered from WWII. Salinger only occasionally wrote about the war, but to me it seems like his underlying theme. Salinger’s 1950 short story “For Esmé—with Love and Squalor” is a fairly direct account of his battle fatigue. Catcher in the Rye was published in 1951, although elements of it were written as early as 1941. He became a reclusive eccentric, but he gave a lot of his mental balance in his country’s service.

Herman Wouk (b. 1915) was a naval officer in the Pacific and took part in support of six landings, including Okinawa, where a lot of ships were lost to kamikazes. The Caine Mutiny was published in 1951. (Wouk thought his 1948 second novel City Boy about growing up Jewish in New York in 1928 would have been more of a success if not for The Naked and the Dead monopolizing all the literary attention.) Wouk was kind of the anti-Salinger, continuing to write well into his 90s.

William Styron (b. 1925) was commissioned a Marine officer in 1945 and was in San Francisco to ship out for the invasion of Japan when the Japanese surrendered. His 1952 novella The Long March was inspired by his training program when he was recalled to the Marines during the Korean War, but then discharged for medical reasons. An anthology of his military short stories, Suicide Run: Five Tales from the Marine Corps was finally published in 2010. The one I read in The New Yorker was excellent. Styron had a famous battle with depression, although he didn’t see war.

Joseph Heller (b. 1923) flew 60 combat missions as a bombardier in a B-25 on the Italian Front. Catch-22 dates to 1961. He downplayed the risk he’d faced, calling many of the missions “milk-runs.” But his plane saw heavy anti-aircraft fire on over half the runs. The odds of surviving 30 combat bombing runs were not great.

Kurt Vonnegut (b. 1922) was taken prisoner by the Germans in the Battle of the Bulge and survived the bombing of Dresden in the underground Slaughterhouse-Five, which he published in 1969.

(Besides literary and mainstream commercial novelists, lots of American genre writers such as detective writers Ross Macdonald and John D. MacDonald served in the war, as did screenwriters like Gene Roddenberry. My impression is that sci-fi writers like Heinlein and Asimov tended to have technical jobs in war industries stateside.)

So Vidal was probably correct. On the other hand, it sounds a little like the joke about the shipwrecked economist and the can of beans: Assume you can write a great WWII novel … so all you have to do is write it faster than all the other guys trying to write a great WWII novel.

Interestingly, I don’t recall too many famous novels about the Civil War written by veterans. We know from soldiers’ letters that there were many fine writers serving on both sides. Ambrose Bierce’s short stories are probably the best known Civil War fiction by a veteran (he was severely wounded at Kennesaw Mountain.)

The most famous 19th Century fiction about the Civil War, The Red Badge of Courage, is by Stephen Crane who wasn’t born until 1871.

I suspect the war was so horrible for soldiers that they didn’t feel much like informing the public what it was really like.

There wasn’t all that much straight-forward realistic fiction about how awful World War One was until the end of the 1920s when books like A Farewell to Arms and All Quiet on the Western Front were published. (Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End was published in 1924-28, but it tended to be oblique and dauntingly modernistic.)

In contrast, by the time of WWII, realistic fiction by writers who had held bad jobs was all the rage, so there was more of a rush to write.

From Second City TV:

 
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  1. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

    Thanks, a lot to ponder there.
    I think I’d be well-satisfied with myself if I had put this post together.

    • Replies: @Cato
  2. There wasn’t all that much straight-forward realistic fiction about how awful World War One was until the end of the 1920s when books like A Farewell to Arms and All Quiet on the Western Front were published.

    Ernst Jünger (1895 – 1998) wrote a first version of Storm of Steel while fighting at the front in WW I . He was wounded seven times then. He spent his free time reading Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Goethe etc. – and drinking and – writing. He led a platoon at the front in France. His book is stone cold, very well written and – impressive.

  3. Somsel says:

    You forgot Michener’s “Tales of the South Pacific.”

    One of the short stories in it closely matched my father’s tales of boredom on Vella LaVella in the Solomons as a young SeaBee fresh off his Hoosier farm.

    Although bombed and strafed by the Japanese, he didn’t see real combat until he was assigned as Shore Patrol in San Francisco towards the end of the war.

    I found the book interesting but not truly great.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  4. Actually- there are no truly great novels about WW1 and WW2, in any language. Good yes, great -no.

    Unlike the Napoleonic wars period.

    And Steve’s list is a bit odd, since some writers did not write novels about WW1, just short stories.

    Perhaps there is a greater reason why any war doesn’t produce truly remarkable fictions- war is an experience of shrunken human beings, being bossed around, mechanized & ultimately wasted … not a material for anything “great”.

  5. Jan Banan says:

    All of them were beaten by John Hersey who won the 1945 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for his, imo, mediocre novel, A Bell for Adano.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  6. Anonymous[940] • Disclaimer says:

    His debut novel about an Army unit on a Pacific island, The Naked and the Dead, was published to acclaim in May 1948. I didn’t particularly like it, but it’s impressive.

    I managed to finish half. Didn’t hate it but didn’t care for it either. Impressive, yes, but a fugging drag.

    It was easy to project then that if young Mailer is this good at the complex social novel (typically, a mature writer’s form) at age 25, by the time he peaks in, say, the 1970s or 1980s, he’d be up there with Dickens and Tolstoy

    Dickens knew and stuck to his formula. Tolstoy deeply immersed himself in his world and characters.

    Mailer was essentially a restless figure, a man of ideas and conceptually more ambitious than Dickens and Tolstoy put together. For all his activism — anti-war protests and political campaigns — , he was often obtuse and near autistic about social reality, unlike Tom Wolfe. Rather, it was largely about psychology. He had crazy notions and just projected them outward, writing ridiculous stuff like White Negro and at one time defending graffiti as public art. He dabbled in filmmaking, as if his mind energies would just magically transpose themselves onto the screen. A brilliant, penetrating, and insightful mind with powerful writing style but chaotic and messy, as if equipped with a quantum mind that can be everywhere every time. Ancient Evenings surely ranks as among the most ambitious works attempted. He admired John Dos Passos and wanted to write the Great American Novel, but that wasn’t enough for him. He wanted to write the Great Mankind Novel, and it’s no wonder he was politically and culturally everywhere, from right to left, infuriating to all sides. Like Hemingway, it wasn’t enough to be a man of letters. He could immerse himself in long hours of writing but had to play provocateur and raconteur, like world was a vaudeville circus or something. He was into sports and took some lessons in boxing and KO’ed Gore Vidal at one time. He insisted on having balls as big as his brains. His last novel on Hitler was quite a read — I managed to last about 1/3. Fascinating but too much; I don’t care to read about Hitler’s pa’s sex life.

    One thing for sure, Mailer lived a life worth multiple biographies. I read one and it was un-putdown-able. Near riot just about every other page, his remarks, exploits, troubles, triumphs, disasters, like a bull in a china shop. Most writers are about pen in the den. Mailer was like every character in West Side Story, the Puertos, the Polacks, the boys and girls, the Jewish store owner, the police captain, etc. He was like Moses and the Golden Calf guy rolled into one. It was as if his chosen role in life was to play the crazy American melting pot. Some regarded Sam Fuller the same way, but he wasn’t much of a film-maker, though Big Red One is admired in some quarters.

    John Hersey was once much celebrated. He’s now forgotten except for Hiroshima.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hersey#Works

  7. @Somsel

    Thanks, I’ll add Michener.

  8. The Greatest Generation, followed later by the Not-So-Great Generation (aka Baby Boomers).

    • Disagree: Corvinus
    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  9. bomag says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Perhaps there is a greater reason why any war doesn’t produce truly remarkable fictions- war is an experience of shrunken human beings, being bossed around, mechanized & ultimately wasted … not a material for anything “great”.

    Generally disagree. Tolstoy was plenty informed by war. Plenty of human institutions shrink us; boss us around; waste us: politics; church; love.

  10. Funny thing: I don’t think actual WWII vets read that stuff. They read Mickey Spillane. Later they read books by W.E.B. Griffin. Especially if they were combat vets.

    My guess is that most of the list above is for guys who also like musicals. No disrespect or anything. I did hear a Vietnam vet who liked literature talk about Joseph Heller. He had played baseball for the Army.

    • LOL: Happy Tapir
    • Replies: @JMcG
    , @David Davenport
  11. usNthem says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    I’d say All Quiet On The Western Front is pretty close to being great and perhaps the Guns of August, although that obviously wasn’t written by an ex-combatant.. The problem with the First World War as far as a subject for a fictional novel is, it was pretty much a static, stalemated meat grinder where everyone’s experience wasn’t all that dissimilar. There wasn’t much going on (perhaps the air war) other than trying to survive your time in the trenches. As a result, most of the books are non-fiction personal experiences.

  12. @Dieter Kief

    Ernst Jünger’s Storm of Steel is a great read. Life in the Tomb by Stratis Myrivilis is another great WWI novel.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  13. Siegfried Sassoon’s “Memoirs of an Infantry Officer,” written after WWI, was not great literature, but it contained the true incident upon which the fictional Catch-22 paradox was based.

    • Replies: @Daniel H
  14. @Anonymous

    Someone- I forgot who- said there were authors whose lives are more interesting & valuable than their works.

    Mailer is in that category.

    And his mind was more curious than penetrating; being essentially a journalist with imaginative, not intellectual powers; not a novelist & even less a thinker, he left a body of work that is the best when least ambitious.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  15. @Dieter Kief

    Storm of Steel is a great book, but it is a memoir rather than a novel, though I thought that made it more interesting than any of the novels that I’ve read from Steve’s list.

    When most people think of war, they think of war’s ne plus ultra: infantry combat, or at least, ground combat, including armor, cavalry, etc. Looking at Steve’s list of capsule bios, it is striking how little ground combat experience the ten authors had, the main exception being Salinger, who perhaps not by coincidence was also the most traumatized. Part of this may have been that being in the “wrong” hemisphere for World War, a disproportionate part of the US war effort was just getting men and materiel to the battle fronts, where every available European and East Asian was already serving in the front lines.

    Having read a lot of war memoirs, some patterns emerge. The Russian/Soviet memoirs tend to sound like they are written to please their political officers (which they probably had to be), so despite their epochal literary culture, most of the memoirs I’ve seen don’t read that well, but are an object lesson in politics ruining literature.

    There are a couple of good Japanese naval and aviation memoirs, but I’ve never found a Japanese infantry memoir despite millions of Japanese having served as such. Presumably they exist in Japanese, but publishers assume non-Japanese don’t want to read about the “enemy’s” experience.

    Despite Britain’s world-class literary culture, I’ve never found a particularly good British WWII memoir. Maybe they felt they couldn’t top their WWI writing, so why bother?

    As mentioned, there is not that much US infantry writing. What there is is mostly from the Pacific. IMHO, the best is Eugene Sledge, whose memoir didn’t come out until the 1980s but wasn’t well known until the 1990s when Paul Fussell promoted it. It is indeed good for the reasons Fussell says.

    There are now quite a few German war memoirs, many of which have only been published in the last couple of decades, as their authors faced the final curtain. While some of these authors display stereotypical German rigidity, dutifulness and perhaps a lack of imagination (not necessarily bad in a memoirist), they are also typically intelligent, perceptive and conscientious recorders of their experience. It is also striking how often these authors were wounded. Many of them received repeated wounds of a kind that would have been an American infantryman’s permanent ticket home. Of course, this is often the reason that they survived the war at all: like Tolkien in WWI, they happened to be in hospital when their unit suffered an annihilative defeat. But a few are still there for the annihilative defeats.

    The best WWII memoir, IMHO, is Guy Sajer’s, who though technically French, served in the Wehrmacht as an Alsatian. His artistic touch is reminiscent of Saint-Exupéry, had Saint-Ex served in the much more brutal infantry arena. Unsurprisingly, Sajer became an artist after the war. His writing is so novel-like that he was accused of having written a novel rather than a memoir.

  16. None of the works mentioned by Mr Steve is remotely in the same class as the Sword of Honour trilogy writen by iSteve icon, Evelyn Waugh. They must be the best WWII novels written in English. The fact that he was able to pack so much detail into novels, all with less than 200 pages, is a measure of his artistry.
    It certainly helped that Waugh was already an established author pre-War and over 40 by the end of the War. He was a very experienced individual with an unflinching view of what the War involved. This gave him obvious advantages over young men with very limited experience of life.

    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
  17. Mark G. says:

    Kurt Vonnegut was a member of the prominent Vonnegut family here in Indianapolis where I live. He went to the same high school as my mother but was a couple years older than her so they weren’t in the same class. My mother had the author Dan Wakefield in her class and his book Going All the Way was later made into a movie. Both Vonnegut and Wakefield were liberals, which made them somewhat unpopular here in conservative Indianapolis.

    Indianapolis Germans like Vonnegut and myself tend to be untypical Germans. The typical German tended to be authoritarian, militaristic and religious. Anyone the opposite of that didn’t like being around them and came to America. The liberal, pacifist, atheist Vonnegut is a good example of an un-typical German. Slaughterhouse Five, rather than being a war novel, is more of an anti-war novel.

    Vonnegut admired another Indianapolis writer, Booth Tarkington. Tarkington was named the best writer in America in a nineteen twenties Literary Digest poll but has fallen into obscurity. There have been no biographies or critical studies of him since the nineteen fifties. His reputation started to decline when the movie version of his novel of Indianapolis life, The Magnificent Ambersons, became a big flop as a movie. I think it’s a good book and blame Orson Welles for the failure of the movie.

  18. Adept says:
    @Almost Missouri

    Despite Britain’s world-class literary culture, I’ve never found a particularly good British WWII memoir. Maybe they felt they couldn’t top their WWI writing, so why bother?

    Evelyn Waugh’s semi-autobiographical “Sword of Honor” is quite good. It is at least the equal of anything posted in Steve’s OP.

    As an aside, “The Good Soldier Švejk,” a Czech WWI novel, is perhaps the first example of a truly modern war novel. It’s almost totally absurd — and yet, for all that, it seems perfectly realistic.

    • Agree: Wade Hampton
  19. Mike Tre says:

    “Interestingly, I don’t recall too many famous novels about the Civil War written by veterans. ”

    I imagine there were quite a few less non combat roles available to hide the sons of rich people in. (I realize a few of the above authors served in combat roles but most did not.) Hemingway, who was merely a journalist, witnessed more action then most of these above and was severely wounded in WWI and awarded a Bronze Star in WWII.

    Mailer’s account of his “combat” military experience in the Philippines is likely heavily exaggerated at best. He is certainly not alone in that regard – most of the more well known books by Navy Seals over the last 20 years are “revised” accounts as well. But not sure how Steve contends that Mailer “was no coward” when even wikipedia notes he attempted to get a deferment from the draft. The guy lived a life pretty much free of real consequence and he knew it.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  20. I tried reading Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead when I was about 14, but I was disappointed as there did not seem to be enough nakedness in the book to get my attention.

    I also tried reading Catch-22 at around the same time, but did not get very far with it due to the characters having stupid names. It was worse than trying to read Dostoevsky.

    1984 was an easier read, and so was Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific. 15 years later when I was about 30, I went on to read most of Michener’s books and enjoyed them as a kind of guilty pleasure.

    America produced great music during World War II, with the likes of Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Basie, Ellington, and others. It was worth having the war just for the music which I still regularly listen to on Alexa. The mid 20th century music of America is its greatest cultural expression of confidence in America.

  21. @Almost Missouri

    “I’ve never found a particularly good British WWII memoir. “

    Spike Milligan’s war memoirs are interesting in a very British way. But he was always a comedian, so don’t expect grand strategy. He was wounded at Monte Cassino.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler:_My_Part_in_His_Downfall

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22Rommel%3F%22_%22Gunner_Who%3F%22

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty:_His_Part_in_My_Victory

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mussolini:_His_Part_in_My_Downfall

    Waiting to land at Salerno:

    ‘I wonder why we’re waiting?’…
    ‘We’re waiting for the tide,’ says Kidgell.
    ‘That’s the best news I’ve had.’
    ‘Why?’
    ‘The Med’s tideless.’

  22. RE: John Hersey

    Well there is the 1966 war comedy movie : “What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?”
    That is set in Sicily.

  23. Anon[202] • Disclaimer says:

    Shohei Ooka’s autobiographical novel Fires on the Plain rises to the level of great literature. Ooka was a 35-year-old literary critic who got drafted towards the end of the war and sent to the Philippines just in time for the Japanese Army’s collapse. The novel is about a soldier who gets separated from his unit and has to hide out in the jungle for several months, slowly losing his mind and eventually resorting to cannibalism to survive.

    It may be that to write a great war novel you have to be on the losing side.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  24. Old Prude says:
    @Almost Missouri

    The Fogotten Soldier is by far the best memoir I’ve read. Don’t EVER invade Russia.

    • Replies: @Danindc
  25. Thea says:

    I once read but cannot find proof that Ambrose Bierce was the only soldier who both fought in battle and wrote about the Civil War. (Many people wrote about it but didn’t fight and other soldiers were writers but not about the war.) I found it very hard to believe but trauma could cause people to avoid certain topics.

  26. @Almost Missouri

    Presumably they exist in Japanese, but publishers assume non-Japanese don’t want to read about the “enemy’s” experience.

    And because it gives vastly different perspective on the cause of Pacific War 太平洋戦争

    https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/太平洋戦争

    日本における評価
    Evaluation in Japan

    6. 米国は日本に石油・物資を販売しながら、中華民国にも強力な援助を継続しており、日中共に米国と対立して戦争を継続するのは最初から困難であった。米国は日中に対して決定的な影響力を開戦前から持っていたため、太平洋戦争は米国が日本・中国双方を弱体化させる策であったとの見方。

    6. While the United States sells oil and supplies to Japan, it continues to provide strong assistance to the Republic of China, and it was difficult from the beginning to continue the war in conflict with the United States in both Japan and China. Since the United States had a decisive influence on Japan and China even before the start of the war, it is believed that the Pacific War was a measure for the United States to weaken both Japan and China.

    Some bibliography–

    Japan and Her Destiny: My Struggle for Peace, Shigemitsu Mamoru, 1958
    Online version here–
    https://archive.org/details/japanandherdesti006533mbp/page/n9/mode/2up

    Japan’s Greatest Victory, Britain’s Worst Defeat: The Capture and Fall of Singapore 1942
    Colonel Masanobu Tsuji and H.V. Howe (available on Amazon)

    On World Final War (Armageddon), Kanji Ishiwara, 1940

  27. njguy73 says:

    Vietnam gave us the Oliver Stone filmography. So what has the War of Terror given us? Even in the form of TV or film? What Afghanistan or Iraq veteran wrote or directed anything?

  28. @Bardon Kaldian

    Au contraire, Thomas Pynchon’s ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ easily qualifies as one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. Though it would perhaps seem a tad queer to compare it to the works of slightly earlier twentieth century European masters like Joyce, Proust, Woolf, Bely, etc., I find it to be at least as awe inspiring as anything within this company. I would warmly encourage you to patch the holes within your sieve.

  29. JMcG says:
    @Almost Missouri

    Until the Eyes Shut, by Andreas Hartinger is another great memoir by an Austrian soldier in the Wehrmacht, in an Alpine Troop Regiment. He was called up at age 16 in 1941. He fought on the eastern front as a machine gunner. He told his story to his grandson, who recorded it. To me, it’s a better work than Sajer’s great Forgotten Soldier.
    It’s amazing just how hard life was for almost everyone just 80 years ago.

    • Thanks: Almost Missouri
  30. Anonymous[760] • Disclaimer says:

    I think it also comes to down to the GI Bill. Hundreds of thousands of demobilized guys flooding into the nation’s colleges, often the first in their family’s history to get higher education. And a staggering percentage of them ended up as English majors. Naturally, their professors told them “write what you know.”

    Now ask yourself how many putatively “great” novels have come out of the Vietnam War. Not a lot, and given that the youngest vets of that war are hitting 70, there won’t be any more candidates forthcoming. But how many of Nam vets used their education benefits to study *writing*? Probably 10% of the share of WW2 vets.

    Plenty of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are getting Montgomery GI Bill \$\$\$ to pay for education. But I would bet the number of English majors there are at best in the double digits. The 2010s and 2020s *should* be the Golden Age of Middle East War Fiction and Memoirs, but so far it has been a dud. And I’d wager we won’t see anything in the next several years to change that.

  31. anonymous[357] • Disclaimer says:

    If you follow your GPS to the right coordinates (N51.06887, E013.71688) you will end up at a parking lot in front of an exhibition hall. But you’ll know you’re in the right place when you see a stone statue of a cow that once marked the entrance to the meatpacking district and somehow survived the bombing.

    https://trueadventurestories.com/2017/05/09/you-can-actually-visit-the-real-slaughterhouse-five/

  32. gc says:

    Storm of Steel is a truly a great novel. Incidentally it was Hitlers favourite novel, but the writer was part of the famous plot to assinate Hitler and lived still a long life. Those Hemingways war books are great too. First I didn’t like Hemingway, but I think about his books almost more than other books. The same with Coetzee.

  33. Mr Mox says:
    @Almost Missouri

    I much prefer memories to novels. These days I find it difficult to become engaged in any novel, not at least a war novel. The last one I managed to complete was Len Deighton’s ‘Bomber’ – which, by the way, was quite good. It’s probably an age thing…

    I also has to agree with you on the quality on many German memoires, be it ‘Stuka Pilot’ by Hans-Ulrich Rudel or the latest I read; ‘Gods of War’ by Hans Werner Woltersdorf. Another gripping read is ‘The Eastern Front’ by the the Belgian, Léon Degrelle. He may have been an unapologetic holocaust-denier, but he certainly was no coward. In fact, that goes for most of the “good” memoires from the losing side; they don’t grovel and try to excuse themselves.

    Oh, and don’t miss out on Spike Mulligan,his memoires span several books, the first being ‘Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall’. They are hilarious.

    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
  34. Raymond Chandler saw WWI combat in the trenches with the Canadian forces in France. He was almost 30 at the time, a Chicago native whose family moved to Briitain. While certainly not a war novel, The Long Goodbye is a perceptive look at the new postwar America — affluent, sunny and suburban but with a cancerous moral rot at the core nonetheless.

  35. @Almost Missouri

    “Despite Britain’s world-class literary culture, I’ve never found a particularly good British WWII memoir. Maybe they felt they couldn’t top their WWI writing, so why bother?”

    Quartered Safe Out Here, based on George MacDonald Fraser’s experience as a private in The Border Regiment in Burma is good, though without any overblown heroics.

    (He’s the author of the Flashman series.)

    • Agree: 68W58, animalogic, Sasu
  36. Presumably, it’s extremely good for a novel written by a teenager serving as a first mate in the Aleutians, but I’d never heard of it until now.

    Williwaw is not very good. I read it years ago when going through almost all of Vidal’s work and it’s probably my least favorite of the half-dozen or so novels that you mention here which I have read. Vidal didn’t discover his distinctive voice as a novelist until The Judgment of Paris and by then he wasn’t making enough money as a novelist to avoid the lure of Hollywood. (The City and the Pillar is a Vidal topic, of course, but not a very good or memorable novel beyond its subject matter.)

    Norman Mailer thought that James Jones’ famous novel From Here to Eternity was the best book about WW2, even though it doesn’t deal much with the war. Mailer became great friend with Jones, as I recall, before quickly moving on in Mailer-like fashion to other passions.

    Styron’s novella The Long March is wonderful writing, but not really about any war or even the threat of a war.

    • Replies: @Matt Buckalew
    , @Acilius
  37. From Here to Eternity: I read this the spring I turned 17, and volunteered for the U.S. Regular Army. (“Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”)

    I’d already seen the picture at least once. I completely identified with Pvt. Robert E. Lee Pruitt. (“Prew” was also a New York Jew, right?)

    James Jones grew up in small-town Illinois, like Hemingway, the son of a dentist (Hemingway’s father was a doctor), and, like Pruitt, enlisted at 17.

    There are passages that read like poetry. I started re-reading it in West Germany but never finished it the second time. But for years, I carried around the poem/song, “Re-Enlistment Blues” from the book in my wallet.

    Like so many young men of a literary bent of his generation, James Jones was a son of Hemingway.

    Not only did Fred Zinnemann and Daniel Taradash make a masterpiece of this “unfilmable” book, in which Montgomery Clift, Burt Lancaster, and Frank Sinatra all did their best work, but Jones (/Hemingway) and “Prew” exerted tremendous influence on still more writers. “A man’s gotta go his own way, or he’s nothing.” The Sand Pebbles, by China Sailor Richard McKenna (1962), was deeply influenced by Eternity. The protagonist, Jake Holman, played by Steve McQueen in the 1966 picture, was the reincarnation of Robert E. Lee Pruitt.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  38. Great piece, Steve. I avoid war novels and war movies (aside from fun stuff like Errol Flynn’s Edge of Darkness) but Catch-22 is a personal favorite — which is fortunate because I had to do it in high school and college along with two voluntary readings

    I recall when Johnny Got His Gun — written back in 1938! — became all the rage during the Vietnam protests. (Along of course with Slaughterhouse-Five) But it seems Dalton Trumbo did not serve any military time.

  39. Abe says:

    There wasn’t all that much straight-forward realistic fiction about how awful World War One was until the end of the 1920s when books like A Farewell to Arms and All Quiet on the Western Front were published. (Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End was published in 1924-28, but it tended to be oblique and dauntingly modernistic.)

    Patrick MacGill- THE GREAT PUSH, 1916. Have the ebook on my tablet- almost can’t believe it’s not some sort of Internet forgery, as it is surprisingly sleek and modern in terms of style and amazingly dark and cynical in terms of anything you’d expect could have gotten published in 1916- phantasmagorical images of corpses in obscene poses still hung on barbed wire from last year’s battle, etc. Don’t forget censorship played a big role in what the public was allowed to see while hostilities were still commenced.

    Overall I think this list is more an artifact of the MAD MEN/NYC media gatekeeper/pre-Internet information dark age we’ve just left. You are much more likely to go wrong saying “X got famous because he was the first to do Y and Z” than “X got famous through some stochastic process of gatekeeper selection at the comparatively tiny number of important NYC publishing houses even though Y and Z did basically the same thing earlier and with no appreciably large difference in quality.”

    If the Internet had been around in the 60’s Mailer’s political stunts would have had their thunder stolen by a couple of YOUTUBE’ers much better known to the general public than he. One of them probably would have even gotten Ali to fight him in a media circus-style bout in Hanoi (hello Paul brothers) while Mailer was stuck back home, sniffing one of the champ’s used jockstraps.

    • Thanks: Almost Missouri
    • Replies: @Abe
    , @Peter D. Bredon
  40. Steve

    You forgot Pig Bodine….

  41. @Jonathan Mason

    It was worth having the war just for the music which I still regularly listen to on Alexa.

    Wow. The British really will fight to the last drop of American blood.

    • Agree: Kylie, Mr. Anon
    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
  42. usNthem says:

    James Clavell was another good one, though Australian by birth, he later became a US citizen.

  43. BTW the guy who co-wrote M*A*S*H* — Richard Hornberger — really was an army surgeon just behind the front lines in Korea. Not really a towering work of literature but it did eventually morph into a cultural icon thanks to the irreverent Vietnam-era screen and TV treatments

  44. nebulafox says:
    @Almost Missouri

    >they are also typically intelligent, perceptive and conscientious recorders of their experience.

    Despite the damage the Nazi regime did to the education system, German soldiers were on average still better educated than their enemies. This showed in areas other than memoirs. Auftragstaktik was only possible because you could entrust junior officers to make up their own minds tactically.

    The only postwar military that has been able to employ something similar has been the IDF. This is less ironic than it seems, given Israel’s “Prussia” style geopolitical situation in its early decades.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  45. Veracitor says:

    Edward L. Beach, Run Silent, Run Deep, 1955.

    The book is better than the mivie!

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  46. pyrrhus says:

    In Michener’s autobiography he states that he was a troubleshooter for the military in the Pacific and gives some instances..Michener states that his plane landed in the water 3 times, and he concluded that he was a very lucky guy to have survived…He flew into New Guinea every week or two, and two weeks after he was discharged in 1946, his replacement’s plane missed the runway there and hit the mountain, killing everyone aboard, which confirmed Michener’s conclusion that he was lucky…

  47. Alfa158 says:

    I once read a long article in a wartime edition of New Yorker magazine by Hersey about the sinking of PT-109, which turned a relatively routine action into a springboard for Kennedy’s Camelot dynasty. (The dynasty seems to have come a cropper partially due to the Kennedy’s bad luck with modes of transportation.)

  48. anon[228] • Disclaimer says:

    For WWI the greatest is the book length poem In Parenthesis by David Jones. Longest death scene evah. Modernist yet naturalistic.

  49. This is a weird take because in 1950 Cozzens not to mention Michener would have been more famous than Norman Mailer (Cozzen’s fame pre and post-war Michener’s post war). Mailer didn’t make his career with naked and the dead he made it by not being a one hit wonder like Heller (who literally had nothing else left after Catch 22) and remaining relevant into the television age something Cozzens and Hersey couldn’t do, and Salinger wouldn’t do.

    And then of course Vietnam starts and Mailer launched his second act as ostentatious opponent of that war (a war Kerouac and Steinbeck supported) so like all things it turns out the true generational test was not WW2 but of course 60s Boomers solipsism. Mailer more so than any Greatest Generation writer was willing to play to Boomers. Without this someone like Vonnegut would have likely shot up above Mailer in renown.

    It should have kind of been a hint when you look at this list and see that only Heller is actually remembered for his WW2 novel that perhaps something other than the WW2 novels and the speed with which they were published is driving things. Beyond something else which I will leave unstated.

    It’s kind of all pretty incidental anyways since Catch-22 (which itself is half of a great novel) is the only World War 2 novel that will be read in even twenty years and will probably hang on in the canon like all quiet on the western front does- solely on the basis of its association with a epochal event. Interesting however that the two greatest works by this generation of authors are one offs- Catch 22 and catcher in the rye.

  50. Ganderson says:

    When I was a teen I read a bunch of novels about the Pacific War by Robb White- The Survivor, Torpedo Run, Up Periscope- there were some others as well. Up Periscope was made into a pretty good movie with Edmund O’Brien and James Garner. I recently reread all three; I thought they held up pretty well. I alway wondered why he other two never made it to the silver screen.

    I know this thread is about novels, but Almost Missouri is right about Sledge’s book. I’d add Robert Leckie’s Helmet for My Pillow, which I’d call a literary memoir. William Manchester’s reminiscence, Goodbye Darkness is also quite good. Leckie’s and Sledge’s books were a large chunk of the source material for HBO’s The Pacific.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  51. @Nicholas Stix

    James Jones’s 1962 novel, The Thin Red Line, is the best American novel from the perspective of a combat infantryman. The men of C for Charlie Company are the characters.

    My father, a WW II GI, told me Jones “gets” the American soldier of WW II perfectly, dialogue, etc.

    • Agree: Nicholas Stix, Dutch Boy
    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
    , @Simon
  52. @Almost Missouri

    The problem with Junger is that he remained somehow- underdeveloped, emotionally-mentally retarded.

    He was a great vitalist & incredibly curious person. But, from WW1 to Hitler and adventures and LSD he was always experiencing something & not emotionally-mentally processing anything.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
    , @Dieter Kief
  53. @Pincher Martin

    Styron the patron saint of MFA novelists.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  54. @Almost Missouri

    As long as we’re mentioning foreigners, we might as well mention The Good Soldier Svejk by Jaroslav Hasek in the early 1920s about World War I.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  55. @Bardon Kaldian

    “why any war doesn’t produce truly remarkable fictions”

    This is false. You negate the power of tragedy in drama.

  56. Hershey is probably the perfect example of how wrong Vidal was. Hershey wins the Pulitizer Prize in 1945 no less for his war novel and then published Hirshoma the biggest most celebrated post-war journalistic account all before mailer even stared writing naked and the dead and no one remembers him because again he played no role in 1960s politics. The greatest American novel could have been written about world war 2 but one one would remember it if the author had died before 1968. If mailer’s wife stabs him to death in 1963 during one of mailer’s drunken beatings no one remembers him.

    • Replies: @Nicholas Stix
  57. I would add Walter Heggen who wrote the great Mr. Roberts.

    Also, the American Civil War may not have produced too many novels, but there are a ton of great memoirs.

    • Agree: Captain Tripps
    • Thanks: Nicholas Stix
  58. S says:

    There’s also the WWII intelligence officers who got into writing…ie Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond series and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Pierre Boulle, the French author of Planet of the Apes and Bridge Over the River Kwai, E Howard Hunt of Watergate fame, writer of 73 books, many of them spy thrillers.

  59. A bit of a one hit wonder: Walter M. Miller Jr.

    “During World War II, Miller served as a radioman and tail gunner in a bomber crew that participated in the destruction of the 6th-century Christian monastery at Monte Cassino, Italy, founded by St. Benedict and recognized as the oldest surviving Christian church in the Western world. This experience impressed him enough to write, a decade later, the short story “A Canticle for Leibowitz”, about an order of monks whose abbey springs from the destroyed world around it.”

    • Agree: Cortes
  60. Jack D says:

    Not to minimize what Vonnegut saw with his own eyes after the firebombing of Dresden when he was assigned to the cleanup crew in the aftermath (rooms full of women and children suffocated in cellars because the fire above had consumed all of the oxygen, etc.), this was not good for his objectivity concerning what happened in Dresden. This was really a seminal event in his life and he spent the rest of his life talking about it endlessly.

    Vonnegut bought in to the worst Soviet propaganda exaggerated casualty figures and in effect was an unwitting Soviet pawn. (The Soviets played up the Dresden casualties in order to make the US and the UK look bad during the Cold War – Stalin had no qualms about killing civilians in huge numbers himself). The British, BTW, and not the Americans, should get most of the credit for the firebombing. In accordance with the division of labor during the war, the British did nighttime bombing and the Americans operated during daylight. The British did such a thorough job of setting the city on fire that by the time the Americans came the following day they were bombing the rubble.

    Vonnegut frequently quoted the Soviet figure that 135,000 civilians died in the Dresden bombing. Others (postwar Neo-Nazis) said 200,000 or even 500,000. Communists and right wingers don’t have much in common but one thing they had in common was hatred of the West and a willingness to lie in service of that hatred. The actual number is now believed to be in the vicinity of 25,000. The Germans were meticulous record keepers and they recovered and buried or cremated exactly 21,895 bodies in Dresden. After the war, another 1,858 bodies were discovered in the rubble during reconstruction. After German reunification a further effort was made but no more dead were uncovered. Now 25,000 dead in a single bombing raid is nothing to be scoffed at, but it’s a far cry from 135,000 or half a million.

  61. @David In TN

    “James Jones’s 1962 novel, The Thin Red Line”

    Agreed. Exceptional book centered on the infantryman’s experience. The film based on the novel, released in 1998 and directed by American auteur Terrence Malick, is quite good. A war film infused with natural splendor. A fine cast which includes Woody Harrelson, Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, and the great Nick Nolte.

    • Agree: Dutch Boy
  62. @nebulafox

    Agree.

    Auftragstaktik was only possible because you could entrust junior officers to make up their own minds tactically.

    You also had to trust them enough to tell them the outcome you want rather than just telling them what to do. In multicultural/imperial armies, this kind of assumed shared loyalty is a bigger question mark. Not just shared loyalty, but also shared values. If you send a detachment on a feint attack and you tell them it is a diversion, are they going to half-ass it because it’s not the main show or are they going to over-commit because, e.g., as a Turkish acquaintance said, “a Turk never does anything halfway!”? A Wehrmacht unit in this situation could be fairly confident the detachment would exert the right level of pressure even knowing it was only a diversion.

    Not that the Wehrmacht didn’t have its own multicultural/imperial aspects: different sorts of German-speakers, Alsatians, Scandis, Hungarians, Chuvash, Russic HiWis, etc. The bizarre thing about this ethno-nationalist military was that when they had a defector, he wasn’t usually from one of the peripheral ethnic groups, but an ethnic German who had an ideological beef, e.g., a former Communist.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
  63. Dmon says:
    @Almost Missouri

    I’ll second (or third) the endorsements of Storm of Steel and Forgotten Soldier (Guy Sajer). A not bad memoir of WWII from the American side is David Kenyon Webster’s Parachute Infantry. Webster was part of the famous Band of Brothers, and a Harvard english major to boot. Much of the spoken dialogue in one of the mini-series episodes was taken more or less verbatim from his book. I think the book was not published until many years after his death (thanks to the urging of Steven Ambrose). Webster has a more terse American style than Junger (although that may also be due to the fact that it’s really more of a revised diary), but he provides alot of detail and insight about the workings of things and people in the WWII army airborne. I came across it in the library, but it seems to be available from various online sources.

    • Replies: @Dutch Boy
  64. 36 ulster says:
    @Almost Missouri

    The Forgotten Soldier, by Guy Sajer–born Guy Mouminoux–is a truly compelling book. Sajer served in the Gross Deutschland Division, a mechanized (PanzerGrenadier), Wehrmacht unit. IIRC, he saw action at Kursk, the Dnieper River Bend, Tcherkassy, and the Courland Pocket, where his unit–that which remained–was rescued in the massive military-civilian evacuation from the Baltic port of Memel in the spring of 1945. He was lucky to have been captured by the Americans at war’s end. Transferred to French captivity, he was spared further internment by his French paternity. (Those who had German fathers were subject to incarceration). The military film The 317th Platoon, by Pierre Schoendoerffer (1928-2012) features an Alsatian top sergeant (Adjutant-Chef) portrayed by Bruno Cremer. Probably not based on Sajer’s experiences, but judging from the character’s reminiscences, probably those of someone who served with the Gross Deutschland Division.

  65. Heinlein’s 1959 Starship Troopers is also straightforwardly enough about the Second World War, albeit transchronologized to a few hundred years later and with the Axis troops transformed, maybe with not much exaggeration from an American soldier’s point of view, into giant arachnids.

    When I interviewed Paul Verhoeven about his quirky and polarizing “hundred-million-dollar art film” 1997 adaptation, he allowed as to how it was partly a parody of the German patriotic shorts made by Leni Reifenstahl and others. Asked if Denise Richards, whose character in the movie is so unwaveringly cheerful that it freezes one’s very marrow, was aware of the film’s satirical side, he chuckled at the unnecessary question. He also mentioned that as a five-year old in the Netherlands in 1945, unaware that the Allied incendiary bombings might be dangerous, he jumped with glee at each night’s fireworks extravaganza.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  66. off topic but adjacent:
    Gene Wolfe, Korea infantry vet, never wrote directly about the war (I think) but many of his stories (I have only read 20 percent) seem to depict only-slightly changed memories of that experience.
    Waugh, (not an American) wrote at length about a British military setback in Crete in one of his best novels, Sword of Honor.

  67. Anon[379] • Disclaimer says:

    The great books about war are all memoirs, not fiction novels. Fiction is an inherently trivial genre when it comes to war. The reality of what happened is far more important, which is why the memoir reigns supreme.

    There are many fine war memoirs out there. However, no war memoir is as well-known as the most famous fiction. I have read many excellent war memoirs almost nobody knows about.

    The average reader only reads nonfiction if you put a gun to their head. They can’t absorb something easily if isn’t in the form of fiction. To the average reader, reading nonfiction is like taking a dose of medicine, and they balk at it.

    The reason memoirs are not as well-known as a genre is because English literarure academics have never concentrated on finding out what the great war memoirs are the same way they have done with fiction.

    Memoirs have never gotten anywhere near the academic attention they deserve. This may be because memoirs make academics think that they’re living a trivial life in comparison and this really burns their egos. By contrast, nearly all English literature majors are convinced they can write a great novel if they really try.

    • Agree: Cortes, Captain Tripps
  68. @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    And because it gives vastly different perspective on the cause of Pacific War

    Yes, no doubt.

    I was surprised upon reading Hemingway’s preface in an old edition of something or other published ca. 1942, that Hemingway gives, as a dialog with his son, a remarkably candid and unsentimental explanation of the reason for the then-current war with Japan: the US cutting off Japan’s oil supply. He wasn’t excusing pacifism, though, he just wasn’t saying it was about rah-rah-democracy-and-freedom.

    A lot of things were discussed more honestly and realistically back then.

  69. Thea says:
    @Almost Missouri

    Sajer’s The Forgotten Soldier is a great read but the authenticity is controversial. The inconsistencies may arise because he did not keep a journal but wrote from the vagaries of memory.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  70. Blodgie says:
    @Jack D

    So in other words, the US committed mass murder against German civilians but the British were, like, worse and stuff.

    Is there anything that the US military has done that you patriotic war lovin’ sick bastards can’t get behind?

    I’m sure all those US pilots were venerated as heroes.

    • Agree: Bill Jones
    • Replies: @Art Deco
  71. @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    The characters in oriental languages are like something conjured out of art school. I know zip about the languages spoken in the lands of the yellow peoples. Do they allow for precision? This is something the English language excels at; probably why it is the lingua franca, eclipsing Frogish amongst the diplomats and business cartels. Do the Nipponese Ninjas maintain their own set of secretive characters?

  72. Acilius says: • Website
    @Pincher Martin

    Vidal was at his best as a novelist when his main character was a gifted young aristocrat who doesn’t quite realize how much smarter he is than everyone else, and who comes a cropper as a result of his superiority. I’d say JULIAN shows how far he could go when he built a story around such a character.

    To the extent that WILLIWAW had to be autobiographical, it was impossible for Vidal to center it on a character who is the smartest fellow around. No matter how conceited he may have been, he couldn’t have convinced any reader that he, at his age and his level of experience, had any special understanding of what was going on around that boat.

    Of course, he could also do well when he satirized people who identified with an Ubermensch character- that’s all there is to the narrative voice in MYRA BRECKINRIDGE, for instance. And then you have a novel like BURR, where the preternaturally capable Aaron Burr is brought low by the machinations of the Myra Breckinridge-like (and William F. Buckley Jr-like) William de la Touche Clancey.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  73. Jon Z. says:

    A few other (forgotten and/or second-tier) American WWII novels/stories:

    John Horne Burns’s The Gallery (1947) and Robert Lowry’s story collection The Wolf That Fed Us (1949). Both deal with American occupation forces in Italy during the war. Here are the authors’ respective Wikipedia pages: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Horne_Burns, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Lowry_(writer).

    (Lowry, by the way, was friends with the illustrator James Flora, who made some delightful album covers for Columbia Records back in the day.)

    Another: Mario Puzo’s The Dark Arena (1955), which is kind of a combination of Carol Reed’s The Third Man and Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair. Occupation novels are some of the darkest to come out of that war — very un-Greatest Generation.

    There there’s a whole slew of coming-home, postwar-readjustment, PTSD-inflected works:

    Niven Busch’s They Dream of Home (1944)

    Frederic Wakeman’s Shore Leave (1944)

    MacKinlay Kantor’s Glory for Me (1945), on which The Best Years of Our Lives was based.

    Raymond Chandler’s script for The Blue Dahlia (1946)

    Frank Fenton’s What Way My Journey Lies (1946)

    Vidal’s In a Yellow Wood (1947)

    Dorothy Hughes’s In a Lonely Place (1947). The character later played by Bogart is, in the book, a psychopathic ex-fighter pilot who maintains his adrenaline addiction through murder.

    Merle Miller’s That Winter (1948)

    Salinger’s “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” (1948)

    Nelson Algren’s The Man with the Golden Arm (1949)

    Benjamin Appel’s Plunder (1952) Actually another occupation novel: this time in the Philippines.

    Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying (1953)

    Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye (1954)

    Sloan Wilson’s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1955)

    Richard Yates’s Revolutionary Road (1961)

    James Jones’s Whistle (1978)

    Not all of these are great. Some aren’t even good (e.g., Sloan Wilson). But they capture a particular mood of those postwar years — a not very heroic mood.

  74. @Dieter Kief

    Dieter, i have suggested this before on iSteve, but the best documentary about WWI, in my opinion, is “They Shall not Grow Old.” Archival film and still photos with voice over, often by the actual troops. How they endured the filth and constant shelling of trench warfare is beyond belief.

    • Agree: Captain Tripps, JMcG
    • Thanks: Dieter Kief
    • Replies: @Cortes
  75. whahae says:

    It covers a lot more than just the war but surely Céline’s Journey to the End of the Night has to be on a list of great WWI novels.

  76. @Anonymous

    He [Mailer] admired John Dos Passos and wanted to write the Great American Novel, but that wasn’t enough for him. He wanted to write the Great Mankind Novel, and it’s no wonder he was politically and culturally everywhere, from right to left, infuriating to all sides. Like Hemingway, it wasn’t enough to be a man of letters. He could immerse himself in long hours of writing but had to play provocateur and raconteur, like world was a vaudeville circus or something. He was into sports and took some lessons in boxing and KO’ed Gore Vidal at one time. He insisted on having balls as big as his brains.

    I think the main problem which wrecked Mailer’s ambition to write the Great American Novel was that he couldn’t focus on writing fiction. Novelists have always had side pursuits like politics and sports. Look at Hemingway, for example. But Mailer’s serious interests also ran into producing and directing movies and writing nonfiction, which he spent much of the prime years of his adult life doing. Mailer wrote just 12 novels in sixty years, and only two novels from 1955 to 1978. Those should have been his most productive working years. Compare that to Updike (28), Roth (29) or even Vidal (31, including under pseudonyms), who like Mailer also had a life filled with extracurriculars.

    Hard to write the Great American Novel when you are not writing novels.

    • Replies: @Meretricious
  77. Dutch Boy says:

    There is actually a book about the literary neglect of the Civil War:
    The Unwritten War: American Writers and the Civil War
    by Daniel Aaron
    Most Americans wanted nothing else than to forget the whole disaster and writers were no different.

  78. When I was in college in 80s the book making the rounds was William Manchester’s Goodbye Darkness, which was a fun and breezy read. It was apparently mostly made up, thus qualifying as a novel, though it was presented as “factual.” I did a report on it for a history seminar and the professor admonished me for relying on a fraud (who, it should be noted, was actually there in combat). Manchester was absolutely toxic for the history wonks.

  79. A screaming comes across the sky.

    It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now.

    It is too late.

    The Evacuation continues, but it’s all theater.

  80. Dutch Boy says:
    @Almost Missouri

    “Flying Start” by Hugh Dundas (a WWII RAF pilot) is worthy.

  81. @Jack D

    “Vonnegut bought in to the worst Soviet propaganda exaggerated casualty figures and in effect was an unwitting Soviet pawn. (The Soviets played up the Dresden casualties in order to make the US and the UK look bad during the Cold War – Stalin had no qualms about killing civilians in huge numbers himself).”

    I believe your Dresden casualty figures but I don’t think it changes much re: Slaughterhouse 5 or some bygone (and deeply dishonest) Soviet blather about the West being overly cruel in war (lol come on, Russkies. That’s your angle?)

    BTW I just read Churchill’s abridged WW2 ‘memoirs’ (abridgement of the 6 book history,) and his personal meetings with Stalin are the funniest. Nothing I’ve ever read about it was nearly as amusing as Churchill’s own account.

    If you have the set, worth looking those scenes in particular (would be in “The Grand Alliance”.) Churchill tells Stalin he can’t open a second front this year, which results in grim mood–but then they move onto talking about terror-bombing Gerrman cities, which makes everyone happy. It’s so funny you remember Churchill stayed in the public eye as a talented 1930s newspaper columnist (competitive field at the time.)

  82. Hunsdon says:

    Leon Uris? Battle Cry?

  83. always thought that Salinger’ss immersion in first, the world of teenagers and second the nuances of zen buddhism were self-medication to keep the voices of the war quiet. He had a very tough ’44-’45, unlike, say, Shaw or Mailer or Wouk. Too bad he never wrote a combat novel.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  84. by the time he peaks in, say, the 1970s or 1980s, he’d be up there with Dickens and Tolstoy.

    Not having anything to do with war novels … I should add here something about Anglospheroid parochialism & narrow view on the novelist’s achievement.

    First- Dickens was the first-class entertainer, but his eminence is basically local. He looms large, now, simply because English-language culture is so dominant. In other circumstances he would be relegated to some not too enviable place- for instance, Spanish Perez Galdos (I’ve read just 2 of his novels) is clearly a greater writer than Dickens (although a comparison is not quite fair, because Perez Galdos is perhaps 30 or 40 years younger than Dickens). To put in the same sentence Dickens and Tolstoy is a blasphemy (not that there’s anything wrong with blasphemy…)

    Second- English-language novelists don’t have much to offer until the end of the 19th C. Then, there is a procession of great novelists, from Henry James, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, .. and it ends with William Faulkner. Hemingway & Fitzgerald are incredibly overrated, and Nabokov is a sterile boring narrow aesthete. No life in his puns.

    Third- “greatness”. Polish essayist Bienkowski thought that the 19th & early 20th C best imaginative literature portrayed the man as a complete being: sociological, economic, physical, psychological & spiritual.

    Then, somewhere in the mid-20th C, the image of man began to disintegrate, resulting in Beckett’s semi-zombies. And after that, it gets even worse, with worthless people populating a worthless fictional universe.

    Canonical novels cover the period from Cervantes to, perhaps, later Thomas Mann- so, give or take, from 1600 to 1950.

    In my very subjective opinion, most of them are overrated. And there are reasons for that.

    a) a novel is such a Protean form that virtually any longer story can be called “a novel”, so there is not a set of rules which could serve as a compass. One can write about people, dogs, ghosts, whales, … everything. It just has to have a story. Without story, there is no novel. And whether one finds a story convincing, interesting, valuable, … – varies very much.

    b) novels don’t age well. Some do, but they’re exceptions. For instance, history as a story, Tacitus’ “Annals” is much more vivid, fresh & deeper than most novels.

    c) and, after some time, many people just grow tired of made-up stories. It seems, at least to me, perfectly natural.

    As for “greatness” – I think it is absurd to write about a satirical nihilist author like Orwell, or even a spiritual nihilist like Kafka, as being “great”. Influential or accomplished yes, but “great”- not. The same goes for the likes of Jonathan Swift. Or that dreary perfectionist of genius Gustave Flaubert.

    It’s like calling Benvenuto Cellini “monumental”.

    Fourth- exuberance is beauty. Balzac was, I don’t know, 10-15 years older than Dickens, but Balzac is an elemental force of life, covering society, lust, sex, avarice, spirituality, money, evil, villainy, social climbing, egoism, passions, wars, death, ….

    Perhaps he is not in the league as a novelist with Dostoevsky, Tolstoy & Proust, but he’s more a force of life than just an author & to compare him with modern or artistic novelists is futile.

    Dickens? In comparison with Tolstoy? Or…Balzac?

    Please …

    • Replies: @James J O'Meara
  85. JimDandy says:
    @Anonymous

    A novelist is first and foremost a storyteller. A storyteller’s first task is to communicate with an audience. I’ve never been particularly impressed with Mailer’s storytelling abilities. I’ve always considered him to be wildly overrated. Many here seem to disagree. Maybe I will revisit his works.

  86. Mr. Anon says:

    Marine Corps veteran William March wrote a WWI Novel, Company K, which was critically acclaimed but is not well known today. His best selling work was The Bad Seed, which was made into a play and a movie (several times). He’s one of those writers I’ve meant to read since I heard about him, but haven’t quite gotten round to it yet.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_March

  87. “screenwriters like Gene Roddenberry. My impression is that sci-fi writers like Heinlein and Asimov tended to have technical jobs in war industries stateside.)”

    You can read about ’em in Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee, New York: Dey Street Books, 2018, which I reviewed here at Unz:
    https://www.unz.com/article/pulp-puppies-competent-men/?highlight=heinlein

    As I recall, Heinlein came from a Naval family, but his career was cut short by illness, which gave him a military-shy complex, hence all the “competent men” and militarism in his stories. I think Asimov did have some vague technological job but eventually drove everyone nuts and was released, as he was a real Woody Allen type (neurotic and sex-obsessed).

    But don’t forget L. Ron! Hubbard ran some ships aground and fought a pitched battle for seven hours against a big rock or something he saw on sonar, so was eventually relieved, like Capt. Queeg. Again, this influenced his career, using Scientology to set up the Sea Org, a big ship (to avoid taxes and scrutiny he’d sail the seven seas) with a crew in dashing uniforms.

    Arguably, Heinlein’s real Naval service was in Naval Intelligence, hence his involvement with Jack Parsons (he stole his wife and yacht) and Aleister Crowley., the rest was all cover story.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  88. Mr. Anon says:
    @Jonathan Mason

    It was worth having the war just for the music which I still regularly listen to on Alexa.

    About fifty million dead people may have a somewhat different opinion.

  89. “Wouk thought his 1948 second novel City Boy about growing up Jewish in New York in 1928 would have been more of a success if not for The Naked and the Dead monopolizing all the literary attention.”

    As a wee lad in Detroit in the 60s, I was in the Advanced Reading program or whatever it was called, and a cart of books would be rolled around from time to time. I read the whole cart in about a couple weeks, having nothing better to do; sad. Anyway, I recall reading The City Boy, which between the NYC Jewish parts and the country campgrounds, was like science fiction to a Detroit kid.

    I probably chose it because I had seen the Caine movie on TV, or else had subsequently read the book (both happened). With the world of kindle, I recently renewed by acquaintance with both for .99c each. Caine is pretty suffused with goy-worship, idolizing the uber-Wasp Willie Keith, while the other is the usual poor Jew struggling among crude goys. Still pretty readable, as is his Aurora Dawn, a satire of advertising, very much in the Face in the Crowd genre. He’s not the worst bestseller type writer, and the period details, esp. Aurora Dawn, are fascinating.

  90. Shetland says:

    Great that you mentioned Ross and John D MacDonald. They might be considered mere pulp writers, but both were insightful commenters who deserve greater recognition IMO

  91. @Bardon Kaldian

    “Perhaps there is a greater reason why any war doesn’t produce truly remarkable fictions- war is an experience of shrunken human beings, being bossed around, mechanized & ultimately wasted … not a material for anything “great”.”

    Fallacy! One doesn’t have to be shrunken etc. to write about them. I suppose a complete Man would have a hard time in the military, but if he survived he could certainly write a great book about it.

    Actually, “shrunken human beings, being bossed around, mechanized & ultimately wasted” sound exactly like the lesson Junger drew from the war… The Soldier or The Worker (the latter a title he used) is no longer the complete Man of Goethe’s day, but finds his salvation is becoming a cog in the Total Machine, or something. Never bought the idea myself.

    As noted by a comment above, Junger himself spent his war time reading Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Goethe; no cog he.

  92. @Anonymous

    “KO’ed Gore Vidal at one time. ”

    But everyone remembers Vidal’s response: “Once again, words fail Norman Mailer.”

    • LOL: Pincher Martin
    • Replies: @Anonymous
  93. hhsiii says:
    @Almost Missouri

    James Clavell. Aussie. Wrote King Rat. Shot in the face and captured in Java, spent the rest of the war in Changi prison.

  94. @Almost Missouri

    “Part of this may have been that being in the “wrong” hemisphere for World War, a disproportionate part of the US war effort was just getting men and materiel to the battle fronts, where every available European and East Asian was already serving in the front lines.”

    Gosh, it’s almost as if the USA had no business being involved, being halfway across the world, and should have just enjoyed its natural immunity (sort of like the way Fauci despises ‘natural immunity’ and demands vaccinations).

    Also, the added cost of all that transport helps enrich the MIC, which is the whole point of modern “war” or rather, warfare.

    • Agree: Almost Missouri
  95. @Almost Missouri

    “Despite Britain’s world-class literary culture, I’ve never found a particularly good British WWII memoir. Maybe they felt they couldn’t top their WWI writing, so why bother?”

    Waugh’s Sword of Honor trilogy?

    • Agree: 36 ulster
  96. @Jack D

    You’re an idiot and a liar. Vonnegut’s figure comes from David Irving. He says so explicitly.

  97. hhsiii says:
    @Almost Missouri

    And yes, With The Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa by Sledge is a great memoir.

    Fussell also served, and his book War and Modern Memory is also an excellent read, non-fiction but discusses war fiction as well as Sledge etc.

    • Thanks: Coemgen
    • Replies: @William Badwhite
  98. nebulafox says:
    @Jack D

    The only firebombing raid that reached the neighborhood of six digit casualties was the single worst one: Operation Meetinghouse, or as the Japanese called it in 1945, the Night of Black Snow. To this day, you can go to the memorial in Yokoamicho Park where all the ashes of the slain are interred. Even the deadliest raid on Germany-Hamburg 1943 (which, out of all German cities, came to closest to matching “Tokyo” conditions-wooden densely packed inner city, right weather, etc)-didn’t reach half the level of casualties of that one.

    The differences are obvious. Japanese cities still had more wooden structures than anything you saw in Europe. We carefully targeted Chuo and Koto cities: working class urban areas near the docks more densely populated than anything in Europe. German air-raid shelters and fire-fighting technology was considerably more advanced than Japan’s, and the German government made a concerted effort after Hamburg to ensure urban populations knew what to do and where to go. That did save lives.

    Dresden’s population was artificially swollen with Silesians in early 1945. The bombing infrastructure couldn’t cope with the influx. My suspicion is the relatively high death toll was mainly due to this. But it still wasn’t on the level of Hamburg, let alone Tokyo.

    • Replies: @syonredux
    , @Bardon Kaldian
    , @S
  99. Daniel H says:
    @Henry Canaday

    Siegfried Sassoon’s “Memoirs of an Infantry Officer,” written after WWI, was not great literature, but it contained the true incident upon which the fictional Catch-22 paradox was based.

    1) When was the last time you heard someone refer to a “Catch -22” type situation? The meme seems to be fading.

    2) Why was “Catch-22” a meme to begin with? It just represents a simple ironic contradiction. I never understood the fame of this meme.

  100. A damn shame that that was the last real generation of novelists

    • Agree: Tony massey
  101. nebulafox says:
    @Almost Missouri

    The Waffen-SS had a Bosnian Muslim unit. This isn’t as surprising as you might think. Many Bosnians had relatively warm memories of Habsburg rule and older guys in the community who’d already fought for the Austrians in WWI. Both Bosnian Muslims and Croats were pretty alienated from the Serb rule by the time of the invasion, and German intelligence was adept at tapping into desires for payback.

    More pragmatically, of course, they also wanted to ensure the Germans wouldn’t put them under the rule of the Croat Ustaše (who committed excesses against Serbs and Jews to an extent that disgusted even the Germans), and figured that fighting for them against the Partisans might do the trick.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13th_Waffen_Mountain_Division_of_the_SS_Handschar_(1st_Croatian)

    (They were brutal but effective. I’ve heard stories of Bosnian Waffen-SS vets going off to Syria and Palestine to train Arabs after the war.)

  102. hhsiii says:
    @Almost Missouri

    Back then rarer. Also part of the last scene in Godfather 2, flashback to when Michael volunteers. Tom Hagen says we should have expected the attack once we embargoed them, and of course Sonny gets pissed at him for saying it.

    • Replies: @James J O'Meara
    , @fnn
  103. syonredux says:

    Some vague and inchoate thoughts:

    James Gould Cozzens (b. 1903), who turned 40 in 1943, was General H.A.P. Arnold’s stateside press secretary and thus was extremely well informed about how the Army Air Corps worked. His novel about a Florida airbase during the war, Guard of Honor, was published in September 1948.

    GUARD OF HONOR has my vote for best American novel about WW2. It’s set at a Florida Army Air Base and deals with racial tension involving Black servicemen. Since Cozzens was an unsentimental conservative, it’s quite clear-headed on the topic of race relations.

    was General H.A.P. Arnold’s stateside press secretary and thus was extremely well informed about how the Army Air Corps worked.

    And on a a lot of other stuff as well. For example, if memory serves, Cozzens GUARD includes details about negotiations between Nazi Germany and the USSR in ’43 for a separate peace.

    Interestingly, I don’t recall too many famous novels about the Civil War written by veterans. We know from soldiers’ letters that there were many fine writers serving on both sides.

    Sherman and Grant’s memoirs are well-written and worth reading. In terms of entertainment value, Sherman takes the palm, as he was willing to be extremely cutting in his assessments of his colleagues. Grant was more even-handed, but he did pen a classic zinger about Jefferson Davis:

    Longstreet was an entirely different man. He was brave, honest, intelligent, a very capable soldier, subordinate to his superiors, just and kind to his subordinates, but jealous of his own rights, which he had the courage to maintain. He was never on the lookout to detect a slight, but saw one as soon as anybody when intentionally given.
    It may be that Longstreet was not sent to Knoxville for the reason stated, but because Mr. Davis had an exalted opinion of his own military genius, and thought he saw a chance of “killing two birds with one stone.” On several occasions during the war he came to the relief of the Union army by means of his superior military genius.

    Ambrose Bierce’s short stories are probably the best known Civil War fiction by a veteran (he was severely wounded at Kennesaw Mountain.)

    A man after my own heart:

    CYNIC, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic’s eyes to improve his vision.

    -Bierce, THE DEVIL’S DICTIONARY

    Pretty much all of Bierce’s Civil War stories are worth reading. My personal favorites are ”Chickamauga” (Incredibly brutal for the 19th century) and “Parker Adderson, Philosopher”

    https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/chickamauga-short-story

    https://americanliterature.com/author/ambrose-bierce/short-story/parker-adderson-philosopher

  104. syonredux says:
    @syonredux

    And Bierce’s take on the Indo-Europeans seems rather in line with Reich’s work:

    ONE SUNNY AUTUMN AFTERNOON a child strayed away from its rude home in a small field and entered a forest unobserved. It was happy in a new sense of freedom from control, happy in the opportunity of exploration and adventure; for this child’s spirit, in bodies of its ancestors, had for thousands of years been trained to memorable feats of discovery and conquest–victories in battles whose critical moments were centuries, whose victors’ camps were cities of hewn stone. From the cradle of its race it had conquered its way through two continents and passing a great sea had penetrated a third, there to be born to war and dominion as a heritage.

    -Bierce, “Chickamauga”

  105. @Dieter Kief

    Wikipedia has a perfect example for Jünger’s style in Storm of Steel

    First the wiki-explanation:

    During the Battle of the Somme near the obliterated remains of the village of Guillemont his platoon took up a front line position in a defile that had been shelled until it consisted of little more than a dip strewn with the rotting corpses of predecessors.

    Then the quote:

    As the storm raged around us, I walked up and down my sector. The men had fixed bayonets. They stood stony and motionless, rifle in hand, on the front edge of the dip, gazing into the field. Now and then, by the light of a flare, I saw steel helmet by steel helmet, blade by glinting blade, and I was overcome by a feeling of invulnerability. We might be crushed, but surely we could not be conquered.[3]

    • Thanks: AnotherDad
  106. Alrenous says: • Website

    Civil war veterans were much less narcissistic. Not quite as American as later Americans.

    The point of WWII, ultimately, was not a war. The point was writing about the war later. All those dead people? It was to have something to talk about.

    Abolish public schools.

  107. Mr. Anon says:
    @Jack D

    The firestorm raid on Hamburg 1943 killed nearly 40,000 people. Lest anyone have any doubts about the intentions of the British and American Air Forces, it was called “Operation Gomorrah”.

    The fire-storm raid on Tokyo by the USAAF in 1945 killed about 100,000 people in one night.

    It wasn’t just Stalin and Hitler who had no qualms about killing large numbers of civilians.

    But it’s okay when the good guys burn women and children alive. And after all, it resulted in all those big band hits that Jonathan Mason listens to while he dusts his Hummel figurine collection.

    • Agree: JMcG
    • Replies: @Jack D
  108. I have the typical male pattern–especially as i’ve aged, i’m just not that much interested in fiction.

    Why waste your time reading “The Naked and the Dead”, when you can read some actual history and someone’s memoir of their actual experience. Then you’ve actually learned something.

    I’ve read “The Naked and the Dead” and Herman Wouk’s soap opera script. But much, much, much better and useful to my understanding the world was Shirer’s tome. I haven’t read a great deal on the war, but maybe a dozen books covering some aspect or another. (My Iowa family went for the Navy so i have a tilt that way.) I liked “The Bravest Man” which is on the submarine war focusing on Richard O’Kane. I’ve read Robert Lecke’s memoir but didn’t make a big impact. I’ll read Eugene Sledge’s as i’ve heard a few people say it’s very good.

    BTW, jump to the Great War, i enjoyed “Castles of Steel” quite a bit. I didn’t know much so it was quite informative to me.

    ~

    But verbalist blatherers making stuff up … that’s what we all have to live with 24x7x365. Why do i need to volunteer for more?

    • Agree: Captain Tripps
    • Replies: @JimDandy
  109. The great novel of World War 2 was written by the Russian writer Yuri Grossman about the battle of Stalingrad “Life and Fate”

    It was written about the same time as Dr. Zhivago but the commies were able to suppress it until the 1980s. I think it is the equal of War and Peace.

    • Replies: @Peter D. Bredon
  110. syonredux says:
    @nebulafox

    Freeman Dyson on the British terror-bombing campaigns:

    For a week after I arrived at the ORS, the attacks on Hamburg continued. The second, on July 27, raised a firestorm that devastated the central part of the city and killed about 40,000 people. We succeeded in raising firestorms only twice, once in Hamburg and once more in Dresden in 1945, where between 25,000 and 60,000 people perished (the numbers are still debated). The Germans had good air raid shelters and warning systems and did what they were told. As a result, only a few thousand people were killed in a typical major attack. But when there was a firestorm, people were asphyxiated or roasted inside their shelters, and the number killed was more than 10 times greater. Every time Bomber Command attacked a city, we were trying to raise a firestorm, but we never learnt why we so seldom succeeded. Probably a firestorm could happen only when three things occurred together: first, a high concentration of old buildings at the target site; second, an attack with a high density of incendiary bombs in the target’s central area; and, third, an atmospheric instability. When the combination of these three things was just right, the flames and the winds produced a blazing hurricane. The same thing happened one night in Tokyo in March 1945 and once more at Hiroshima the following August. The Tokyo firestorm was the biggest, killing perhaps 100,000 people.

    While the attacks on oil plants were helping to win the War, Sir Arthur continued to order major attacks on cities, including the attack on Dresden on the night of February 13, 1945. The Dresden attack became famous because it caused a firestorm and killed a large number of civilians, many of them refugees fleeing from the Russian armies that were overrunning Pomerania and Silesia. It caused some people in Britain to question the morality of continuing the wholesale slaughter of civilian populations when the War was almost over. Some of us were sickened by Sir Arthur’s unrelenting ferocity. But our feelings of revulsion after the Dresden attack were not widely shared. The British public at that time still had bitter memories of World War I, when German armies brought untold misery and destruction to other people’s countries, but German civilians never suffered the horrors of war in their own homes. The British mostly supported Sir Arthur’s ruthless bombing of cities, not because they believed that it was militarily necessary, but because they felt it was teaching German civilians a good lesson. This time, the German civilians were finally feeling the pain of war on their own skins.

    I remember arguing about the morality of city bombing with the wife of a senior air force officer, after we heard the results of the Dresden attack. She was a well-educated and intelligent woman who worked part-time for the ORS. I asked her whether she really believed that it was right to kill German women and babies in large numbers at that late stage of the War. She answered, “Oh yes. It is good to kill the babies especially. I am not thinking of this war but of the next one, 20 years from now. The next time the Germans start a war and we have to fight them, those babies will be the soldiers.” After fighting Germans for ten years, four in the first war and six in the second, we had become almost as bloody-minded as Sir Arthur.

    https://www.isegoria.net/2009/05/firestorms/

    • Agree: Bardon Kaldian
    • Thanks: Emil Nikola Richard
  111. Cortes says:
    @Buffalo Joe

    “How they endured the filth and constant shelling of trench warfare is beyond belief.”

    Captain JC Dunn’s memoir of life in the trenches (he was MO in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, a messmate, I think, of Robert Graves)

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1998955.The_War_the_Infantry_Knew

    is full of startling details which never featured in newsreels. We associate the trenches with mud, of course, but during periods of relative inactivity in spring and summer meadows appeared and at one point probably spring 1915 a cow was acquired for milk and grazed undisturbed. Overall, of course, it was hellish.

  112. Not Raul says:

    I suspect the war was so horrible for soldiers that they didn’t feel much like informing the public what it was really like.

    I believe that you are correct.

    My gringo grandpa was a combat infantryman in the 3rd ID during WWII. He never brought up the war, generally hated it when someone asked about it (as a teenager, I would back off after a question or two), very rarely talked about it, and only did so vaguely and briefly.

    When his ashes were to be buried at a Veterans cemetery, we found out about a few medals, including a Bronze Star. He had never mentioned it.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
  113. Mr. Anon says:

    As far as War Memoirs go, I recommend Robert Grave’s Good Bye to All That. It’s really a memoir of the first half of his life. As I recall, it ends about the time he left England. But a good portion of it is about his service in the British army in WWI.

  114. Anonymous[387] • Disclaimer says:
    @Almost Missouri

    I’ve never found a Japanese infantry memoir despite millions of Japanese having served as such.

    There is an enormous body of literature on the Great East Asian War in Japanese. Two infantry novels translated into English are:

    野火, English title Fires on the Plain, by Ooka Shohei, relating the experiences of a Japanese soldier in the Philippines. It’s an intensely powerful and moving work that has been widely acclaimed. It was published in 1951.

    ビルマの竪琴, English title Harp of Burma, by Michio Takeyama, tells the story of a Japanese PoW, captured by the British in Burma, who tries to convince Japanese soldiers still resisting to surrender. He fails. It’s a great novel, even though it, or perhaps because it is written for children. It was published in 1946.
    As an aside, this was the first complete novel I read in Japanese, realizing as I did so that I was not translating it into English in my head but actually reading and absorbing it in Japanese.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  115. @nebulafox

    I would say that realistic number of victims is somewhere around 40,000 and more, perhaps up to 50,000.

    Not 130,000, but also not 20,000.

  116. I’ve read most of the works cited, and I think Slaughterhouse Five is the best of the lot. As for Mailer: he was a better journalist than novelist (and whoever averred that Mailer has more imagination than Tolstoy and Dickens is off his rocker)

    • Agree: utu
    • Replies: @utu
  117. 68W58 says:
    @Almost Missouri

    If you are looking for a good British memoir of WWII try “Quartered Safe Out Here” by the great George MacDonald Fraser (author of the hilarious “Flashman” series). He spent some time in Burma as an infantryman before going off to officer candidate school and then was a platoon commander after the war. Based on that experience he wrote the also hilarious “McAuslan” series which fictionalizes some of the actual events he experienced while he and his unit were preparing to be demobilized.

    • Replies: @Cortes
  118. JimDandy says:
    @AnotherDad

    Well, maybe that gets at the actual quality of The Naked and the Dead. Have you read War & Peace? It’s very unlikely that I will ever read a full non-fiction book on the combat depicted in that novel, but I almost certainly will read War & Peace again. And, it’s worth mentioning, I definitely am going to read Catch-22 again.

    I think two things are going on with the typical male pattern you mention. You covered the first, but the second is that literary fiction no longer speaks to straight male experience. Straight white men are the villains and clowns of contemporary fiction. Contemporary literary fiction examines the pet subjects of the connected woke broads who run that world.

  119. 68W58 says:

    I’ve always thought “Up Front” by the cartoonist Bill Mauldin is a great memoir (and you get his cartoons as a bonus).

    “Mister Roberts” by Thomas Heggen was sort of a one off, but we got the excellent 1955 film from it. In that vein “Stalag 17” was written as a play by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski but the movie is one of Billy Wilder’s best.

    • Replies: @William Badwhite
  120. How about “The Cruel Sea” by Nicholas Monserrat? Of the list above I’ve read only The Caine Mutiny, The Young Lions, Catch 22, and Slaughterhouse-Five; I consider The Cruel Sea as good as any of them(except Catch 22 of course).

    • Replies: @acementhead
  121. Anon[361] • Disclaimer says:
    @syonredux

    You have to be careful in assessing what Grant and Longstreet said about each other. They were roommates at West Point, and Grant married Longstreet’s cousin. They were friendly to each other both before and after the war.

    However, Jeff Davis did not screw up Knoxville due to his ‘own lack of military genius.’ Longstreet screwed it up due to his own lack of military genius. Longstreet had been trumpeting that he wanted an independent command, so Davis took him at his word and sent him to Knoxville. Longstreet completely screwed up his attack on the place–he lost to Burnside, of all people, who was not a good general–and Longstreet returned to Lee sulking mightily. Longstreet did not have the planning and organization skills of even a McClellan, and he could not handle an independent command. Longstreet was always better at defense than offense.

    • Agree: Tony massey
    • Replies: @Matt Buckalew
  122. Jack D says:
    @syonredux

    You have to say that as ferocious and perhap militarily unjustified as these attacks were, they did succeed in once and for all (or for at least for the next century or so) causing the Japanese and Germans to lose their taste for military conquest. Not by literally killing the next generation (if you look at their population history, the war is barely a blip despite the millions killed) but by changing the psychology of the people.

    Feminism and modernity OTOH have succeed in turning the population growth of these countries negative, more effectively than any bombing raids ever did. Perhaps we should have been dropping feminist tracts.

    • Replies: @AnotherDad
    , @utu
  123. Anonymous[788] • Disclaimer says:

    Re Norman Mailer:

    His Wikipedia page said he volunteered to do a couple of dozen reconnaissance patrols in early 1945 in the Philippines and was involved in a few skirmishes with the Japanese.

    Yeah…no. I don’t believe that for a second. Having completed two deployments to Afghanistan serving with the Marines as an FMF 8404, I can’t imagine the “real” Marines allowing a cook to tag along on a combat patrol. First off, where would he fit in in an infantry squad, fire team? What, specifically, would be his role, and why would he have been selected, especially since he would not have had the advanced infantry training and occupation specialties of the other squad members? Would the squad members know him, be familiar with his combat savvy, trust him — trust him with their lives? I don’t believe it would happen.
    Oh, and “a couple of dozen” recon patrols is a lot. Just casually tossing off that figure as if it were nothing immediately raises my suspicions.

    As far as neglected great works of WWII fiction, there is Kenneth Dodson’s Away All Boats about the island-hopping campaign in the Pacific, told from the point of view of the crew of an AKA. It is full of accurate detail that makes you understand just what an amazing feat this was, as well as teaching you how to be a good sailor and even more, a good officer.
    My grandfather, a naval aviator in WWII, gave it to my father when he joined the Navy and my father gave it to me when I did.
    There is so much precise and accurate detail about the procedure of carrying out an amphibious assault and just how difficult it was that you will never forget and be glad you didn’t have to try to do it. It also gives the most gripping account of what it is like to be on the receiving end of a successful kamikaze attack that I have ever read.
    William Manchester was so impressed by this novel that he stole portions of it to use in his fake memoir of the Pacific War, Good-bye Darkness, which is utter crap by the way, but very well written utter crap.
    Unfortunately, Away All Boats was published in 1954, and as the contemporary Kirkus review says, by that time people were getting tired of WWII novels.

    • Thanks: Tony massey
    • Replies: @S
    , @James Braxton
  124. Abe says:
    @Abe

    There wasn’t all that much straight-forward realistic fiction about how awful World War One was until the end of the 1920s when books like A Farewell to Arms and All Quiet on the Western Front were published

    If I may expand upon my own post with some example passages I noted down from MacGill’s THE GREAT PUSH. Modern historians emphasize that the cynical, brooding, nihilistic literature we associate with The Great War only emerged later, in the 30’s, and that what was actually popular at the time (and thus shaped contemporary consciousness) was this flouncy Edwardian stew of muscular Christianity, third-rate Kiplingesque jingoism, and insufferably twee ‘domestic angel’ sentimentality. As MacGill’s passages demonstrate, whatever constituted the popular discourse at the time, it was not THE ONLY discourse available, and that whatever else it may have been, the disillusionment literature of the 20’s and 30’s was NOT some great breakthrough in consciousness.

    Reactions to the war by those actually in it varied. Ernst Junger went into full-blown Roy Batty more-human-than-human existential thrill-seeking craziness. Tolkien, who had already conceived of his Gondolin before the war, but found his Mordor on the Somme, retreated into allegory and mythopoesis. MacGill is a true Celtic great soul, resonating both horror, lyricism, and wry humor in equally well-measured amounts. His prose is so contemporary I still find it hard to believe this is an authentic Great War book, and not the LARP of some Iowa Writers Workshop dweeb. That MacGill is virtually unknown while Hemingway (who was never in any of the actual fighting) continues to be the voice of the Great War experience for Americans is just one of those curious contingencies of the whole publishing industry and its literary fame/hype machine.

    Houses built for a few hundred francs in times of peace, cost thousands of pounds to demolish in days of war. I suppose war is the most costly means of destruction.

    He whom we were going to be attacking at dawn seemed to be very close to me. I could almost feel his presence in the room. At dawn I might deprive him of life and he might deprive me of mine. Two beings give life to a man, but one can deprive him of it.

    [The Germans put up a sign that read:] WHEN IS THE BIG PUSH COMING OFF?? WE ARE WAITING. As well-directed shell blew the board to pieces ten minutes after it was put up.

    A leg, an arm, then again a leg, cut off at the hip. A finely formed leg, the latter, gracefully putteed. A dummy leg in a tailor’s window could not be more graceful. It might be X; he was an artist in dress, a Beau Brummel in khaki. Fifty yards further along I found the rest of X.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  125. With WW2 novels in any language, the questions are: are we dealing with a permanent work of fiction (permanent, more or less)? With the battles and the military? Or with description of life during the war, some combatants, most of them- not?

    I simply don’t think we should put in the same category novels about civilians during WW2 and those about combatants. Also, it is questionable whether artistic merits are of the primary importance, or it’s more about realistic description of life?

    In my opinion, not a single work in English can measure up to Grass’ “Tin Drum” or Grossman’s “Life and Fate” (although Grossman is a bit clumsy).

    So, a few permanent works of fiction include, I’d say: Grass, Grossman, Heller’s “Catch” (something brilliant, but limited by surrealist shenanigans), Waugh’s trilogy, …

    Rather good novels, still readable to some degree: Mailer, Shaw (a lesser achievement), Monsarrat, Simonov’s war novels, Bek’s “Volokolamsk Highway”, Wolfgang Ott “Sharks and Little Fish”, Vonnegut, …

    Between rather good and entertainment: James Jones,..

    Entertainments: Michener, Uris, ..

  126. World War II and Civil War II

    I will invoke the spirit of my ancestor William Hartwell Pewitt of the 20th Tennessee Infantry of the Civil War to proudly side with the Mestizo Spaniard named Pedro Gonzalez in his brawl with that disgusting weasel Neo-Con whore dirtbag named Douglas Murray.

    Who will write the great American novel of Civil War II? Perhaps Pedro Gonzalez!

    Douglas Murray is a rancid whore for the JEW/WASP Ruling Class of the American Empire and Murray is damn lucky to have Danny Hannan around because Hannan is the only one more rancid and crooked and corrupt than Murray.

    Douglas Murray doesn’t like the fact that young Mr. Gonzalez is a man who respects the writings of the late Sam Francis. Murray don’t like the fact that Gonzalez is trying to honestly assess and describe the putrid antics of the JEW/WASP Ruling Class of the American Empire. Instead of debating the writing and ideas of Mr Gonzalez, this base poltroon scumbag named Douglas Murray hurls accusations about so-called “anti-Semitism.”

    Go To Hell Douglas Murray!

    Go To Hell Danny Hannan!

    Don’t let the bastards get you down, young Mr Pedro Gonzalez!

    • Replies: @Jack D
  127. usNthem says:

    Hey Sailer, how about releasing my comments from moderation. I promise there are no mean words…

  128. JMcG says:
    @Loyalty Over IQ Worship

    Louis Lamour and Zane Grey as well. You make a really good point, though.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  129. JMcG says:
    @Agathoklis

    Frederick Manning wrote a book called, “Her Privates We”. Sometimes called “The Middle Parts of Fortune.” Hemingway reckoned it the best book to come out of the Great War, for what that’s worth. I thought it very good, myself.

  130. syonredux says:
    @Wendy K. Kroy

    STARSHIP TROOPERS is pretty much the Outer Space version of the War in the Pacific. The “planet-hopping” campaigns in the book are clearly modeled after the US Marines’ island battles in the Pacific.

    • Replies: @Wendy K. Kroy
  131. Jack D says:
    @Mr. Anon

    It wasn’t just Stalin and Hitler who had no qualms about killing large numbers of civilians.

    The irony here is that Hitler liked and admired the British and kept hoping that they would make peace with Germany so that he wouldn’t have to invade/bomb them. Of course it would have been a Hitlerian peace and in any case the British couldn’t really take him at his word given his track record, but he really did want to make a deal, which in part lead to Hess flying to Scotland on his “peace mission”.

    Even after they wouldn’t make peace, at first Hitler held back on the bombing and mainly tried for airfields and aircraft factories and other military targets. A few bombs hit civilian areas which led the British to retaliate by bombing Berlin which led to German retaliation by bombing London, etc. in a viscious spiral, so in the end the British had no qualms about doing to the Germans that which they thought the Germans had done to them earlier in the war.

    • Replies: @syonredux
    , @Anonymous
    , @Anon87
  132. JMcG says:
    @Mike Tre

    Hemingway drove an ambulance for the Red Cross in Italy in the First World War. He was seriously injured by a mortar round.
    His Bronze Star in the Second World War was a publicity stunt that served only to demean the medal. He made a fool of himself, pretending to lead a band of resistance fighters in France.

  133. Jack D says:
    @Charles Pewitt

    Oh, come on. Normally speaking you would be calling Pedro J. Gonzalez a wetback and worse, but he makes a few anti-Semitic noises about how Jews resemble goblins and suddenly he is your best friend.

    Is this what future Idiocratic America is going to be like? Instead of fellows of the Claremont Institute authoring intelligent critiques of Leftists and their ideology, they are going to critique their appearance?

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
  134. “My impression is that sci-fi writers like Heinlein and Asimov tended to have technical jobs in war industries stateside.”

    Heinlein and Asimov had technical jobs.

    Fred Pohl was in Italy. Pohl’s friend Dirk Wylie served in Europe during the war, suffered a spine injury and died in 1948.

    I dunno what was typical.

  135. @latest__anon

    Pynchon is unreadable & there is nothing in him. His ideas are immature, his “characters” are cartoons, his puns are boring, his world-view is paranoid infantilism.

    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
  136. @Bragadocious

    William Manchester’s Goodbye Darkness, which was a fun and breezy read. It was apparently mostly made up

    Interesting. I read the book a couple decades ago and never got that impression, more that it was memories from 45 years prior.

    Manchester was absolutely toxic for the history wonks.

    His MacArthur biography “American Caesar” was very good, particularly given Manchester initially intended it to be highly critical. His Churchill trilogy “The Last Lion” is…more than anyone should want to know about Churchill.

  137. @The Anti-Gnostic

    “The British really will fight to the last drop of American blood.”

    I don’t think you should tar us all with the Masonic brush.

  138. syonredux says:
    @Jack D

    The Brits gave better than they got:

    Estimates on German deaths from aerial bombing

    Bombing of Germany:
    1945 US Strategic Bombing Survey: >305,000
    Hammond: 400,000
    Rummel: 410,000
    Clodfelter: 499,750
    Keegan: 593,000
    Grenville: 593,000
    P. Johnson: 600,000

    Vs

    Estimates for British deaths due to German bombing:

    60,000, John Keegan The Second World War (1989)
    60,000: Boris Urlanis, Wars and Population (1971)
    60,595: Harper Collins Atlas of the Second World War
    60,600: John Ellis, World War II: a statistical survey (Facts on File, 1993) “killed and missing”

    • Replies: @Jack D
  139. @Bardon Kaldian

    “Nabokov is a sterile boring narrow aesthete.”

    Nobby seems to have regarded Mann as a pseudo-profound philistine peddling pseudo-profundities to the midwits. I have to say Nobby plays the same role for a more sophisticated bunch of poseurs.

    Do you find Nobby’s lit crit better or just as bad as his novels?

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  140. @Pincher Martin

    Updike and Roth were geniuses: Mailer was not in their league. He just did not have the talent to write the Great American Novel

    • Agree: Etruscan Film Star
    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  141. @hhsiii

    And yes, With The Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa by Sledge is a great memoir.

    A collection of interviews more than a memoir, but Henry Berry’s “Semper Fi Mac” is a great read as well. He also had a Korean war version called “Hey Mac, Where Ya Been”.

    • Replies: @Carlton Meyer
  142. @bomag

    Tolstoy’s great achievement, when he writes about war, lies in the fact that his aristocrats have a plenty of time on their hands & they don’t endure extreme hardships that would wear them out; they are, even as participants, basically spectators.

    His spiritual theme, as illustrated by Platon Karatayev- in my opinion, convincing- has little to do with war as such. This natural sage, an enlightened idiot, would have behaved the same in any ordeal, war or not.

    Then, Tolstoy was writing about a type of war that could, having in mind privileged classes & highly individualized people, produce a refreshing experience of life . The same goes for all other authors considered great & writing in that era- Stendhal, Balzac, Hugo, Thackeray,…

    WW2 & modern warfare are not friendly to nuanced individual consciousness anymore.

    • Thanks: bomag
  143. Dnought says:
    @Jonathan Mason

    That may be the most bizarre take on the merits of several examples of great literature, as well as the most superficial take on the impact of World War Two on the modern world, that I have ever seen.

    All in one post.

    For real? Or am I missing that it is some kind of parody of anti-intellectualism?

  144. SafeNow says:

    Someone once said that the quality of sports books is inversely proportional to the size of the ball. Thus, there are no great books about dodgeball. I think the same is true when it comes to the quality of writing about World War II.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  145. @68W58

    the cartoonist Bill Mauldin

    Bob Stevens and his “There I was…” series is pretty entertaining

    • Thanks: 68W58
  146. @hhsiii

    And in Godfather I, Clemenza, when prepping Michael for shooting Sollozo, says “they” shoulda stopped Hitler at Munich.

    “You know, you gotta stop them at the beginning. Like they should have stopped Hitler at Munich, they should never let him get away with that, they was just asking for trouble.”

    Apart from regurgitating the Official Line, who’s this “they”? Someone else, of course, not people like Clemenza, who are busy with murder and prostitution stateside. Remember, they think Michael is a sap for joining, and fighting for people “not his family” ie. regular Americans. At least Tom, who’s German Irish (“My kraut-mick friend” as Woltz calls him), both understands the Japanese being justified and tried to get Michael deferred. Otherwise, it’s the old “let’s you and him fight,” just like the Jews.

    Read the right way, the Godfather Saga (esp. II) is a blistering indictment of the role of Jews and Italians in destroying America, illustrating exactly why “we” tried to keep them out.

    • Agree: Danindc
  147. Zach says:

    Odd that there is no mention of Celine here. Heller admitted that Journey to the End of the Night inspired Catch 22. (Wonder what Celine would have thought about Heller’s Good as Gold.) Also Castle to Castle was a bizarre, entertaining description of the last days of Vichy.

  148. @Adept

    Thanks, I’ll make exceptions to my policy of focusing more on memoirs than on novels for these.

    Waugh is generally good and Sword of Honor is getting a lot of love on this thread, so I will check it out.

    I’ve heard many good things about The Good Soldier Švejk. Is there a translation you recommend?

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Adept
    , @Chrisnonymous
  149. @Matt Buckalew

    I’ll take your word for it. Styron’s prose is often florid and ornate. Perhaps that has some attraction to the graduates of those programs.

    But Styron himself was far too old to have such a background. His generation learned writing the old-fashioned way – by reading a lot of novels and then copying styles they liked before developing a voice of their own.

  150. @bomag

    Tolstoy was plenty informed by war.

    Yes, but by the “romantic” 19th century kind, rather than the mechanized, crushing 20th century kind.

    Plenty of human institutions shrink us; boss us around; waste us: politics; church; love

    I’d agree on politics, which is arguably just war by other means, and maybe on work, depending on the kind, but disagree about church (religion) and love, though the material results of those may often be as bad as war.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  151. @syonredux

    “GUARD OF HONOR has my vote for best American novel about WW2. I”

    Amen, brother. The Tribe were upset with Cozzens for some reason, so they got one of their shabbos goyim, Dwight MacDonald, to do a hit piece on Cozzens for Commentary (or was it Dissent? Dysentery?)

    Like From Here 2 Eternity, it takes place on a base, stateside (at least, Hawaii was later a state), so it doesn’t provide the Boy’s Magazine rat-a-tat-tat adventures people seem to want from a “war” book, and so much the better. It’s a great exploration of how organizations work, and how men form alliances (or not). Also race-realist, and the proto-woke lt. (?) who’s trying to stir up the black enlisted men is portrayed as a neurotic, semitic poltroon. Today, he’d be Gen. Milley.

    He wrote such novels as a specialty. I would recommend Men and Brethren, which is a nice time capsule of the NYC Episcopal church, focusing on a mid-level priest who’s a smug prick. The Just and the Unjust focuses on the law, etc.

    • Agree: syonredux
    • Replies: @syonredux
  152. @Bardon Kaldian

    1) Its not that easy to be cool and emotional at the same time.
     
    2) There are people like him.

    3) We are better off if those speak (& / or write) – the world becomes richer this way- more illuminated, so to speak (see No. 4 as an example).

    4) The best description of snakes I ever came across is by Ernst Jünger in his 5-volume diary Siebzig Verweht (Seventies – Blown Away)

    5) As my grandma from the Catholic side of the family used to say: God’s garden has lots of space – for many a creature

    6) From about 1985 on Jünger had the following routine :

    Cold shower (always a cold shower), then he sat down and wrote.

    Garden and / or a walk around noon, a short nap, then he sat down to study his beetles (he had about 40 000 of them) – twelve are named after him, as are some stars.

    Correspondence and reading time in the evening. / Wine- and tobacco.

    Jünger was into drugs as a teenager already (his father was a pharmacist in Heidelberg) – and practiced this habit throughout his life. He befriended Albert Hoffman, the Basel chemist, who discovered, not invented, as he insisted, LSD (see his memoir: LSD – My Problem Child).

    Jünger wrote a book about his drug-life: Annäherungen – Drogen und Rausch, which appeared 1970.

    (Approachments – Drugs and Ecstasy its English title could be . . . – a small section of that book is translated in English*****).

    The book is about about all kinds of drugs he came across ( = lots of them). Jünger quit smoking cigarettes numerous times in his life, the last time with over ninety. His third wife, Greta, was a biologist and she did not like it too much when he smoked…

    ***** This is something I don’t quite get – that this book has not (yet?) been translated – published in 1970 – at the height of the drug-craze. – What a waste of experiences the English reading world here afflicts to itself… – one of my ideas: Books like this are a major means to – civilize the use of drugs.

    Psychiatrists and psychologists beware!

    This book by Ernst Jünger about Drugs and Ecstasy could do quite a bit of your work of helping people to find a way through the section of our inner wilderness where drugs reign – especially over those who do not know much about them.

    Here is the one chapter of that book that is translated in English – ‘Drugs and Ecstasy’ in: Myths and Symbols. Studies in Honor of Mircea Eliade, eds. Joseph M. Kitagawa and Charles H. Long. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press (1969)

    • Replies: @Emil Nikola Richard
  153. nebulafox says:
    @syonredux

    >Every time Bomber Command attacked a city, we were trying to raise a firestorm, but we never learnt why we so seldom succeeded.

    I just answered this.

    1) German cities were not Japanese cities. Berlin was a massive, spread out city of stone and steel on a sand plain with a relatively low population density. It was just never going to burn like Hamburg or Tokyo, no matter how hard you tried. German weather was also less “fire storm friendly” than Japanese weather.

    2) Because of the lack of these conditions, the “asphyxiation” conditions needed to kill people in the shelters were rarely met. German bomb shelters and fire-fighting teams were more effective than their Japanese counterparts, and-especially after Hamburg-the local city governments in Germany invested a lot of time and money into those infrastructure networks. Civilians knew where to go when the sirens blew.

    As I alluded to, part of the relatively high kill rate in Dresden was simply due to the presence of all those Silesians, to the point where the city’s infrastructure was overwhelmed.

    • Replies: @utu
    , @Prosa123
  154. Jack D says:
    @syonredux

    As has been mentioned, the Germans built air raid shelters, had fire engines, etc. such that the toll from bombing was less than you might expect given the degree of destruction of German cities. The British knew that the only way you could achieve a lot of casualties was by inducing a firestorm so that the people in the bomb shelters would suffocate from lack of oxygen but they never came up with a repeatable method for creating firestorms – when they occured as in Dresden they were the result of some “lucky” combination of unknown factors. Other times they would try the same tactic on a different city and no fire storm. This was cold damp northern Europe and not arid California so getting a raging inferno going was not just a matter of dropping a match.

    300,000 or 400,000 seems like a lot, but the Siege of Leningrad alone resulted in somewhere between 800,000 to 1.1 million civilian deaths, mostly from starvation.

  155. @Larry, San Francisco

    For those of you who, like me, just tried to look up this work, Amazon calls him Vasily Grossman for some reason. Ah, the wily Cyrillic alphabet.

  156. @latest__anon

    I agree that Pynchon is underappreciated, though I haven’t read enough to say more. On the other hand, he was only a couple of years in the peacetime Navy, so his talent doesn’t really contradict Kaldian‘s statement.

    • Replies: @latest__anon
  157. nebulafox says:
    @Not Raul

    Official statement by elderly German pensioner circa 2000: “I was in the East.”

    What they really mean: “Listen, you spoiled little punk, I suffered more than you can possibly imagine in your worst nightmares. I did what I needed to do to survive, and I’m not sorry for having survived. Next topic.”

    • Agree: Not Raul
  158. @Almost Missouri

    Plenty of human institutions shrink us; boss us around; waste us: politics; church; love

    “… but disagree about church (religion) and love, though the material results of those may often be as bad as war”

    Greatness You Too did Try to Achieve
    But Love Forces Us All to Come Down

    Friedrich Hölderlin

    • Thanks: Almost Missouri
  159. That was a nice little article to have written!

  160. @Pincher Martin

    “His generation learned writing the old-fashioned way – by reading a lot of novels and then copying styles they liked before developing a voice of their own.”

    Apparently, Hunter Thompson (b.1937) idolized Fitzgerald to the extent that he typed and re-typed The Great Gatsby just to get the feel of what it was like to write it.

    According to High White Notes: The Rise and Fall of Gonzo Journalism by David S. Wills, he was able to hit those notes (as Fitzgerald call it) now and again, such as the “wave” passage in Fear and Loathing, which (according to Wills’ analysis) not only has a “wave” rhythm but is modeled on the same rhythm in the “green light” passage of Gatsby.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  161. @Acilius

    Vidal was at his best as a novelist when his main character was a gifted young aristocrat who doesn’t quite realize how much smarter he is than everyone else, and who comes a cropper as a result of his superiority. I’d say JULIAN shows how far he could go when he built a story around such a character.

    It’s been decades since I read Julian, but I agree that Vidal’s style, when it was at its best, required a somewhat sophisticated but paradoxically often innocent narrator who develops a growing sense of irony and sometimes outrage at what he sees as the plot advances. An exception to this is Lincoln, which is one of the few historical novels that Vidal played straight. I believe it is Vidal’s only historical novel in which he did not create a major fictional character to interact with his historical characters.

    That “somewhat sophisticated but paradoxically often innocent narrator” is Vidal’s best voice as a novelist, but it is also a major reason why he never became a great novelist because that narrator voice is so obviously a variant of Vidal’s own voice. The voice is witty and fun, but it’s as if Vidal’s shadow hovers over most of his novels in an intrusive way.

    To the extent that WILLIWAW had to be autobiographical, it was impossible for Vidal to center it on a character who is the smartest fellow around. No matter how conceited he may have been, he couldn’t have convinced any reader that he, at his age and his level of experience, had any special understanding of what was going on around that boat.

    I think the major problem with Vidal’s early novels is that he wrote them using that naturalist/realist style which was so popular at the time, and Vidal is just not that interesting a novelist when he doesn’t use his own voice.

  162. A great list. Samuel Fuller wrote a companion novel to his film, The Big Red One, that I picked up at a Stars and Stripes in West Germany in 1981 as a kid. It shaped my understanding of the U.S. in the Med and European Theaters and led to a lifelong interest in the war.
    Wouk also published The Winds of War (1971) and War and Remembrance (1978), two epic novels.
    It’s a little surprising that WW II didn’t produce more great novels when you think about it.
    As far as the Civil War goes, a general at Shiloh, Lew Wallace, wrote Ben Hur after the war, as a sort of parable for being accused of something unfairly. Victor Davis Hanson wrote a really interesting chapter about the effect of Ben Hur in his book, Ripples of Battle.

  163. @Adept

    Quite right, about Jaroslav Hasek’s “Schweik”, a comic novel about the Czech participation in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in WWI and the Czech’s view of their German overlords. Really wonderful.

  164. @acementhead

    Ooops, sorry, I missed “American”; The Cruel Sea obviously not a contender.

    Stupid me; number one quiz rule, listen to the question; exam rule RTFQ; discussion rule Read the topic. Duh.

  165. Years ago my wife had a good business and I helped out in her office, she was however the boss. I remember sitting at my desk and reading “Pacific War Diary” can’t remember the author’s name. The book was the diary a sailor kept, and risked court martial, of his every day life in the Pacific war. One of her clients, Mr. Wilson Greatbatch, the inventor of the implantable pace maker, saw the book on my desk. He asked about it and I lent it to him. He flew as a crew mate with Big George Bush in WWII. Two days later he brought me in his own diary that he kept of his days flying over the Pacific. I was fascinated because I could ask him questions. A few days later, our neighbor, Howard, stopped by, saw Wilson’s diary, kept on the blank pages and margins of his flight manual, and said he too had a diary of his WWII Pacific war experience. He was the chief engineer on the ship that fueled the USS Indianapolis before it was sunk. The USS Indianapolis carried the atomic bomb and was later sunk by a Jap sub. Most of the surviors of the sub attack were devoured by sharks. Top that my iStevers.

    • Thanks: Captain Tripps
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @mc23
  166. @Abe

    “If the Internet had been around in the 60’s Mailer’s political stunts would have had their thunder stolen by a couple of YOUTUBE’ers much better known to the general public than he. ”

    Mailer is the unacknowledged father of the Jackass genre.

    • LOL: Abe
  167. Anton Myrer was a Marine on Guam and wrote the novel “Once an Eagle”, published in 1968.
    It’s not very well-known outside of military circles, but it is basically required reading in the Army and Marines to this day. It is about two very different officers, Sam Damon and Courtney Massengale. Damon is the consummate combat leader and Massengale is the ambitious staff officer. They cross paths early in their careers in WW I France, spend the bulk of the novel in the Pacific in WW II, with the novel ending in early 60s Vietnam. The man and the novel have solid wikipedia entries if you want to learn more.

    • Thanks: Emil Nikola Richard
  168. utu says:
    @nebulafox

    “[Berlin] was just never going to burn like Hamburg or Tokyo, no matter how hard you tried. “

    Because Berlin was the best defended city. Allies could not lit it up as they did Hamburg or Dresden.

    “part of the relatively high kill rate in Dresden was simply due to the presence of all those Silesians”

    Exactly. The figure of 25,000 dead arrived by British and the few German historians who dared to look at it after German reunification is unbelievable. The figure should be significantly higher than that of Hamburg. There was no Luftwaffe left to impede in any way the bombing of Dresden.

    • Replies: @German_reader
  169. West Point reading list

    https://www.dodreads.com/west-points-reading-list/

    no sign of any of these novels

  170. Anonymous[318] • Disclaimer says:
    @Anon

    It may be that to write a great war novel you have to be on the losing side.

    Also, Human Condition. Does it exist in translation?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Human_Condition_(novel)

    There was also Black Rain by Ibuse. Haven’t read but saw the film by Imamura. Not one of his best. Too cautious in approach due to gravity of subject.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Rain_(novel)

    Tin Drum isn’t a war novel but an allegory about Germany in the Hitler period. Haven’t read it but watched the film, which is okay.

    Cross of Iron(originally The Willing Flesh) is a war novel. How good I don’t know. Didn’t read but the movie by Peckipah was interesting.

    https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/the-cross-of-iron_willi-heinrich/718976/#edition=2220218&idiq=5159987

    One wonders how Soviet literature fared with all the censorship. But surely many novels on the subject was produced.

    https://theculturetrip.com/europe/russia/articles/the-second-world-war-in-russian-literature/

    • Replies: @Joe Stalin
  171. S says:
    @Anonymous

    I can’t imagine the “real” Marines allowing a cook [Mailer] to tag along on a combat patrol.

    You could very well be right. Of course, it’s not always the case that the past record of a veteran is over embellished, some times there’s an attempt to down play, too.

    Regarding the latter, I’m speaking about some German WWII vets. The actor Klaus Kinski, who it appears in reality had served in the Wehrmacht 1943-44 as a Fallschirmjäger, and had been captured by the British on the second day of combat late in 1944, claimed in his 1988 autobiography that he had deserted, been captured and sentenced to death by the Germans, escaped to the British, and his ship torpedoed by a U-boat on the crossing to British captivity.

    Kinski’s best friend said the desertion story was all balderdash.

    Oskar Werner (star of Truffaut’s 1966 Farenheit 451) was drafted in December ’41, but claims to have spent the entire war only doing KP duty and cleaning latrines, and, like Kinski, says he, too,, deserted in Dec, ’44.

    Post war German Hollywood actors with WWII service in the Wehrmacht no doubt felt pressure to under-emphasise whatever they were actually doing during the war, even so, people should just let the truth be what it is.

  172. German_reader says:
    @utu

    The figure should be significantly higher than that of Hamburg. There was no Luftwaffe left to impede in any way the bombing of Dresden.

    I don’t want to get into a discussion about this (certainly not here), but you’re forgetting that Hamburg was bombed for three nights, at the height of summer, and that the RAF managed to jam German radar by dropping a large amount of aluminium strips, so effectiveness of night fighters and anti-aircraft defenses was much reduced. Given those factors, the presumably higher death toll at Hamburg doesn’t seem implausible to me.
    Re Dresden, 25 000 is probably the lower bound, may have been more…but the really high numbers in the 100 000 range seem hardly possible given what is known about WW2 bombing, and there isn’t any hard evidence for them at all.

  173. Anonymous[198] • Disclaimer says:

    Movies may have undermined war literature. Even From Here to Eternity is remembered more as movie than a novel. Few people heard of Thin Red Line before it was made into a movie.
    World War II is remembered mostly through movies like Sands of Iwo Jima, Best Years of Our Lives, They Were Expendable, The Longest Day, and Patton. And The Great Escape and Bridge on River Kwai. Vietnam War, the first TV war, came to be remembered mainly through movies like Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now. Has anything great come out of the Gulf War, Iraq War, Afghan War?

  174. @William Badwhite

    And yes, With The Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa by Sledge is a great memoir.

    The Battle of Peleliu was a disaster. Completely unneeded and messy. The 1st Marine Division did not secure in the island in four days as promised. After 30 days half the division was killed or injured and the Marines could no longer advance. They were pulled out and the US Army arrived to finish the nasty job.

  175. Anon[361] • Disclaimer says:

    Even World War 1 hasn’t had much attention given to its literature the way it should have. One historian, Edward Lengel, who produced a bibliography of World War I memoirs and says he’s read hundreds of them, keeps saying that There’s a Devil in the Drum by John Lucy is the best memoir of that war. Very few people have read it. I’ve have, and it’s pretty good.

  176. Anonymous[267] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jack D

    The irony here is that Hitler liked and admired the British and kept hoping that they would make peace with Germany so that he wouldn’t have to invade/bomb them.

    If the US didn’t exist, UK likely would have made a deal. But as long as UK could look to somehow get the US involved(and maybe USSR too), it could go on alienating Hitler.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  177. utu says:
    @Meretricious

    Slaughterhouse Five is my personal favorite. Probably one of the best anti-war books. And btw the film was pretty good too. Vonnegut was lucky with the timing that his book could become that popular. If it was not for the anti Vietnam war climate at the time of its publication Slaughterhouse Five would have never reached the mainstream. One simply doesn’t write anti-war books about the Good War and the Greatest Generation. Slaughterhouse Five was probably the last book on WWII that still managed to not write about Jews and Holocaust.

    Vonnegut in his novel Bluebeard which is about abstract expressionists returns to Dresden bombing. The novel culminates when the realistic painting by one of those abstract expressionists is shown in his barn. It is a painting of thousands of refugees from Dresden on the last day of war. The title of the paining is ‘Now It’s the Women’s Turn’. Women are putting off being raped as long as possible … they know that rape will surely come.

    See chapter 35 and on.

    https://kingauthor.net/books/Kurt%20Vonnegut/Bluebeard/Bluebeard%20-%20Kurt%20Vonnegut.pdf

    • Agree: Meretricious
  178. Anon[361] • Disclaimer says:
    @Almost Missouri

    I’ve read Svejk and it sucks. Sorry.

  179. @Almost Missouri

    I agree about Guy Sajer. His The Forgotten Soldier is still the most epic account on a personal level I’ve ever read.

  180. @Anonymous

    Thanks. I will look into those.

    Do you know of any Japanese memoirs?

    • Replies: @Harry Baldwin
  181. Anonymous[267] • Disclaimer says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Someone- I forgot who- said there were authors whose lives are more interesting & valuable than their works. Mailer is in that category.

    Despite his uneven career, there’s no doubt Mailer was a first-rate writer. In a way, his difficulty of organizing his thoughts owed to having too many of them. For a man of such strong personality, he had remarkable powers of empathy.

    Oliver Stone better fits the category of an artist whose life has been more interesting. He did make some first-rate works but stumbled more often than not, especially when the subject is too close to his heart. He loses all sense of perspective and just dives into and gets lost. The Doors is just awful, and Alexander is just a remake of it in ancient times.

  182. MickeyBoy says:

    I learned recently that Salinger was a Ritchie boy. I salute his memory.

  183. Anonymous[189] • Disclaimer says:
    @Peter D. Bredon

    Interesting how there was a time when writers actually mattered and were celebrities. And their feuds became public spectacles. I’m sure there are fine novelists today but the fiction seems to have fallen off the cultural radar. And given how younger writers came of age under PC, they are less likely to write or say anything that might be controversial. When a kiddie book writer like Rowling gets ‘canceled’ over saying a man is a man, people clamp up. And of late, even leftist writers like Vidal has been attacked as anti-Jewish because he opposed imperialism.

    But everyone remembers Vidal’s response: “Once again, words fail Norman Mailer.”

    One thing for sure, Buckley only talked the talk. Mailer walked.

  184. Adept says:
    @Almost Missouri

    Well, you won’t regret reading Sword of Honor. Waugh is certainly one of the best prose stylists of the 20th century — unlike Hemingway and Joyce, he never seems phony — and, as he’s both keenly observant and very descriptive, he’s a particularly excellent writer of time and place.

    …Reading Waugh’s book, I felt as though I were in wartime England myself, and this is a feeling that I can still recall today, almost as though it were a real memory. And it has been more than 10 years since I last read it.

    Švejk is also great. I’ve only read the Penguin translation, by Cecil Parrott, but it seemed perfectly alright.

    • Replies: @utu
  185. S says:
    @nebulafox

    Dresden’s population was artificially swollen with Silesians in early 1945. The bombing infrastructure couldn’t cope with the influx.

    I once heard an interview with Kurt Vonnegut on NPR and the subject of Dresden was broached.

    Vonnegut relayed that after the war he had met up with one of his fellow US POW’s who had been held at Dresden at the same time he was. The fellow former POW told Kurt that once he had found out after the war what the US bomber pilots had been told about Dresden, ie that it was an important wartime target, which decidedly did not fit the reality he had observed on the ground there, that he would never believe the US government on any pronouncement that it made ever again.

    I was less surprised that Vonnegut’s fellow POW thought this way than NPR, which is as close to state radio as you can have in the US, had actually broadcast the man’s sentiments.

    Probably today that portion of the interview would be cut, and Vonnegut would be purged, err, canceled, from any further NPR interviews.

    • Thanks: S
    • Replies: @Carlton Meyer
  186. Art Deco says:
    @Blodgie

    1/3 of the Jews in Europe survived the war and Hitler and his camarilla ended up dead. Get over it.

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
  187. I recommend “The Cruel Sea” by Nicholas Monsarrat. My no. 1 novel of WWII. Also made a fine movie. I believe Monsarrat was Royal Navy officer during the war.

  188. @Thea

    The Wehrmacht, like, I think, all armies of the time and even today, forbade soldiers to keep diaries, or at least military diaries, so as not to give away unit history information if they were captured or killed. Combine that with the fact that soldiers typically could not read any local geographical information in foreign lands, and if enlisted grade were often not even privy to maps, plans or orders in their own language. As a result, these memoirs are unavoidably vague on the particular times and places of the events they recall. There was an exception among the German memoirists, who hid little journal entries in his coat lining, but that was illegal and unusual.

    As I recall, the original criticism of Sajer was that he did not even exist but was just a pseudonymous writer’s fabrication. As the internet age advanced and it became apparent that he was a real person (Why would a Frenchman who fought for the defeated Wehrmacht not want to make himself a public figure in post-war France? Hmm … it’s a mystery!), the critics switched to saying that he got details like dates or place names wrong. They may or may not be correct about that, but none of it changes the story substantially.

    There are fabricated war memoirs that have sold well. The execrable “Wolfgang Faust” series is an example of this: written in a leaden and clichéd style, full anachronisms and physical impossibilities, it’s really just a kind of war pornography.

    • Thanks: Thea
  189. @Daniel H

    well, it seemed important to many in the times when wars were fought by the great mass of common men. If you hate this war and think it’s madness, that proves you are sane enough to fight it. Sassoon got that message from a psychiatrist who treated him for a temporary mental breakdown. But I agree, both the circumstances and the meme are fading.

  190. Anonymous[189] • Disclaimer says:

    A real advertisement for himself.

    • LOL: Pincher Martin
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  191. @Pincher Martin

    Styron didn’t encounter his biggest influence as a writer- Thomas Wolfe- until college. His passion for writing or for that matter reading were not present until college.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  192. “I suspect the war was so horrible for soldiers that they didn’t feel much like informing the public what it was really like.”

    Two things present itself.

    1. Couldn’t this be said about every single type of war for the last 2,000 yrs? Seriously, in official chronicles, chansons, poems, bards, songs, etc. most of the gory action is turned into either a glorious victory, personal glory for known famous people, or the real details are subtle, hidden, between the lines one has to know what really went on to fully comprehend the true story. Since many of these poems and chronicles would be orally repeated before finally making it to print, the finished versions may indeed be somewhat sanitized regarding what really went on at the battlefronts.

    2. Regarding WW2, perhaps it took a certain kind of personality willing to write about what he actually observed first hand and not be afraid to talk about it in a mass market. Many WW2 veterans in fact refused to discuss what they actually saw with their families. They preferred to turn the page and carry on with their post-war lives as best they could. Whereas Mailer, etc had no problems recounting their personal experiences for the mass market.

    • Agree: Buffalo Joe
    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
  193. @syonredux

    Absolutely. The references are switched around some, though, because although the Earth people are of course the Allies, their propaganda is more based on the Goebbels brand than on the (inferior at first) American newsreels, shorts, and pre-feature recruitment ads. Later, when John Ford, Frank Capra, and some other Hollywood A-listers got into the game, the US product improved.

    ttps://akns-images.eonline.com/eol_images/Entire_Site/2013416/rs_1024x759-130516164933-1024.Starship.Denise.mh.051613.jpg

    Ms. Richards as the sunny-dispositioned combat ace Captain Carmen Ibanez

    • Replies: @syonredux
  194. @Anon

    McClellan was the best organizer and planner the north had. He lacked Grant’s overweening ambition to compensate for a lifetime of failure and as such was unwilling to employ butcher’s tactics to win. Additionally, the north hadn’t yet hit on the tactic of turning the unending flood of the immigrants loose on the south during McClellan’s tenure.

  195. mc23 says:
    @Almost Missouri

    My Helmet For a pillow by Robert Leckie is a decent memoir of a combat marine in the Pacific. It was published in 1957 and was used in the HBO series The Pacific.

    Leckie was moved to write a memoir after seeing The musical South Pacific . After walking out on it he told his wife “I have to tell the story of how it really was. I have to let people know the war wasn’t a musical.”

  196. @Almost Missouri

    Glad to hear that you cherish a healthy receptiveness for Pynchon. But… the underlying milieu and plot content of Pynchon’s magnum opus novel are thoroughly grounded within the context and mythologies of WWII, thus furnishing one sterling counterexample to the statement that ‘there are no truly great novels about WW1 and WW2’.

  197. syonredux says:

    (My uncle Othmar was a weatherman there during the war — there’s a lot of weather in the Aleutians.) Wikipedia doesn’t say Vidal saw combat, but just getting to the Aleutians in the 1940s sounds scary. Vidal’s first novel was about war in the Aleutians, Williwaw (the local name of a violent wind — who knows, Vidal might have heard the name in a weather report over the radio by my uncle …),

    Dashiell Hammett was stationed in the Aleutians during WW2. Wonder if your uncle ran into him?

  198. Prosa123 says:
    @nebulafox

    Sturdier construction of German vs. Japanese cities is why the war in Europe would have dragged on for quite some time had D-Day failed and the Germans kept the Red Army bottled up in the east. Atomic bombs would have been less destructive than at Hiroshima and Nagasaki and it would have taken many more than just two to force a German surrender.
    Of course it’s impossible to know how many it would have taken or what Los Alamos’s production schedule would have been had it remained on a wartime footing, but it’s quite possible that Germany would not have surrendered until late 1946 or even early 1947.

  199. @Daniel H

    Catch-22 became a meme because words with numerical suffixes took off for some reason( maybe because of that Glen Miller song I don’t know I’m not even 30 way before my time). But for whatever reason they were big for awhile so a cultural resonant term that describes a situation for which there wasn’t a set word from a huge selling book makes sense. It stayed relevant because middle school vocab courses have a unit consisting of words borrowed from literary characters/ historical names so words like Panglossian, Gordian Knot, Procrustean, Protean etc. catch-22 is always included among these terms.

  200. syonredux says:
    @Wendy K. Kroy

    I lean more towards Dizzy Flores:

    • Disagree: silviosilver
    • Replies: @Wendy K. Kroy
  201. mc23 says:
    @Buffalo Joe

    With the passing of the Greatest Generation it seems some of vets started telling their stories to families. They’re usually short and focused but nice little snapshots of life at the time.

    One I recall is “Scratch One Messerschmitt” Another was Cruiser Scout by Paul Mckinley. Most are on the web but the accounts fade away as the websites die.

  202. Mr. Anon says:
    @Jack D

    Oh, come on. Normally speaking you would be calling Pedro J. Gonzalez a wetback and worse,……………

    Sure, because all of us ignorant hick goyim view all Mexican Americans as nothing but greasy s**cs, right? We are unaware of the fact that some of them and have lived in the border regions of what is now the US for years, centuries in some cases. We all thought that El Paso and Las Cruces were named after Mexican restaurants.

    I’ve seen Gonzalez speak a number of times on Tucker Carlson’s show and have always been impressed by his smarts and the fact that he and I mostly seem to agree. He’s an effective spokesman for a conservative America First agenda.

    I’ve also seen Douglas Murray on Tucker’s show, and he always comes across as a gas-bag in love with his own voice. And it turns out he’s gay and an ardent neo-con too.

    Conservative Mexican American family man, or gay British neo-con……………

    …………………………………….who is more likely to side with me and my people?

    That isn’t a difficult question.

    • Agree: Dan Hayes
  203. @Jack D

    You have to say that as ferocious and perhap militarily unjustified as these attacks were, they did succeed in once and for all (or for at least for the next century or so) causing the Japanese and Germans to lose their taste for military conquest. Not by literally killing the next generation (if you look at their population history, the war is barely a blip despite the millions killed) but by changing the psychology of the people.

    Not sure if it was really that, but rather losing, nuclear weapons, modern prosperity and lower fertility.

    Feminism and modernity OTOH have succeed in turning the population growth of these countries negative, more effectively than any bombing raids ever did. Perhaps we should have been dropping feminist tracts.

    But this is a critical point.

    I consider Adolf Hitler the single individual most responsible for the decline of the West, more responsible than any single one of the countless the burrowing worms and termites–your Stephen Jay Goulds, your George Soroses, etc.–that slithered along in his wake.

    Yet in 1945 despite the 50 million dead, Russia was still Russia, Germany still Germany, Poland still–shifted West and occupied–Poland. China still China–though headed to commie control, Japan still Japan. India and Africa headed toward independence. And even the Jews who’d taken the biggest proportionate hit, still very much alive and about to have their own nation after 2000 years.

    The world despite the 50+ million dead, was in fine shape demographically–the West included!

    It is anti-nationalist and human nature denying minoritarian leftism claiming “the lessons of Hitler” that has been absolutely destructive to the West in terms of its demographics and future. Without its success the War would just be a small demographic blip of no great long term consequence.

    • Replies: @Peter D. Bredon
  204. Mr. Anon says:
    @Art Deco

    So, you believe that killing hundreds of thousands of civilians – including women and children, babies even – is justified, as long as it’s done by the good guys?

  205. @Dieter Kief

    If you skim all of the parts where he writes details about his dreams, Junger’s War Diaries are pretty good. They did not make it to English translation until 2019. The American publishing industry isn’t very friendly to Nazis.

  206. The two I’ve read, Heller’s CATCH-22, and Wouk’s THE CAINE MUTINY, were both worthwhile.

  207. Mr. Anon says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    1. Couldn’t this be said about every single type of war for the last 2,000 yrs? Seriously, in official chronicles, chansons, poems, bards, songs, etc. most of the gory action is turned into either a glorious victory, personal glory for known famous people, or the real details are subtle, hidden, between the lines one has to know what really went on to fully comprehend the true story.

    Perhaps Churchill was right about war. Perhaps modern mechanized warfare, since WWI (in some ways, since the time of Napoleon) has become so brutal and squalid that there really just isn’t anything even remotely glorious in it anymore.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  208. @Matt Buckalew

    [Styron’s] passion for writing or for that matter reading were not present until college.

    From Wikipedia:

    Upon graduation, Styron enrolled in Davidson College and joined Phi Delta Theta. By the age of eighteen he was reading the writers who would have a lasting influence on his vocation as a novelist and writer, especially Thomas Wolfe.

    More substantively, from the recent biography William Styron: A Life:

    During this same year, 1941–42, his second at Christchurch, Bill Styron tried his hand at fiction. In December he was required to write a short story for English class, and he turned out a good one, which he later sent to Auntie Elmer. Set in wartime Germany, it was called “A Chance in a Million.” The story begins this way:

    Haarmann’s methodical brain worked with lightning-like rapidity. Cool, calculating, with fiendish design, his criminally trained mind, steeled to all outside distraction, was working out every detail and angle in this plan, this magnificent and glorious pattern of crime, which was to be the crowning achievement of his twisted career.

    The principal character in this yarn is Karl von Haarmann, heir to the Wessel-Platzmüller fortune and scion of the Haarmann family of Bremen. The crafty von Haarmann pulls off the greatest bank robbery in European history and heads for the Austrian border with three million Reichmarks in negotiable bonds. He wants to escape to the Bavarian Alps but is apprehended at the last minute by a Gestapo officer, who recognizes him as a draft dodger. (His draft card is No. 1,000,000—hence the title of the story.) Coincidental plotting aside, this was an impressive piece of writing for someone of Styron’s age. The dialogue was rendered in a patois of German and English, reminiscent of many movies of the early 1940s, and the characters, though stock figures, were deftly portrayed. Mr. Bryan, the English teacher, awarded an A. His only comment: “Watch your too frequent use of adjectives.”

    Styron was sixteen at the time.

    As for reading, everyone in that period who had the slightest inclination to read was reading what we would today consider good books, and young William certainly had more than the slightest inclination. Styron remembered his dying mother asking for the novels of Willa Cather and Thomas Wolfe, which he checked out of the library for her, even though his own tastes at the time ran more to Victor Hugo and Robert Louis Stevenson.

    Yes, Styron himself didn’t read Wolfe until he was eighteen and at college, but he was not introduced to Wolfe’s novels in the classroom – which would’ve been the surest way to kill his interest in them – but through his own initiative.

    Styron’s letters home to his father during this period are full of the names of books and writers. He reported reading an eclectic mix of authors: “Hemingway, Wolfe, Faulkner, Dos Passos and short stories by Balzac, Thurber, de Maupassant, Joyce, Poe, and others.” He was so enthralled by Thomas Wolfe that he went on a binge, plowing through Wolfe’s novels and stories one after another in an extended orgy of reading. (“I think he’s the greatest writer of our time,” he confessed in a letter to his father.) Years later he could still remember the effect on him of Look Homeward, Angel, Wolfe’s first novel, with its “lyrical torrent and raw, ingenuous feeling.” The book, he recalled, matched exactly his own feelings of “youthful ache and promise and hunger and ecstasy.” It mattered little to Styron, at eighteen, that Wolfe’s writing was windy and verbose: “I gobbled it all up, forsaking my classes, hurting my eyes, and digesting the entire large Wolfe oeuvre—the four massive novels, plus the short stories and novellas, and the several plays, even then practically unreadable—in something less than two weeks, emerging from the incredible encounter pounds lighter, and with a buoyant serenity of one whose life has been forever altered.”

    That passage describes exactly what I told to you earlier. Styron became a novelist because he had some talent and the inclination to read great literature, not because he was the product of some prototype-MFA program.

  209. Simon says:
    @David In TN

    My father, who served as an infantry private in the Battle of the Bulge, felt that Harry Brown’s A Walk in the Sun was the most realistic war novel of the many he’d read (though it’s set in the Italian campaign). He was also partial to the film made of it, as well as to the 1949 film Battleground.

    To add yet another category to war fiction and memoirs, it’s generally agreed that the greatest World War II journalism was written by Ernie Pyle. I’ve inherited several books of his collected newspaper columns and have been dipping into them lately. They’re extremely moving.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  210. anon[367] • Disclaimer says:
    @Almost Missouri

    There are a couple of good Japanese naval and aviation memoirs, but I’ve never found a Japanese infantry memoir despite millions of Japanese having served as such. Presumably they exist in Japanese, but publishers assume non-Japanese don’t want to read about the “enemy’s” experience.

    There’s a 3 part Japanese film from the 50s called The Human Condition which as a single film is one of the longest films ever made. I’ve never seen it but I often see it mentioned by foreign and art film buffs and critics as being a great film. It’s based on a partly autobiographical novel published in the 50s by a Japanese WW2 vet, which hasn’t been translated into English.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Human_Condition_(film_series)

  211. @Anonymous

    Makes sense. Philip Roth (b. 1933?) called his generation the last to read novels because they grew up before TV.

    • Replies: @S
  212. utu says:
    @Adept

    Cecil Parrott translation is excellent. Pervious translation in UK was timid and the publication was abridged on account of language and disrespectful treatment of royal families and they also added anti-semitism as an excuse.

    • Thanks: Adept
  213. @Anonymous

    I haven’t read it, but James Webb’s novel Fields of Fire is supposed to be a well-written novel about the Vietnam War.

  214. Jack D says:
    @Anonymous

    No, Churchill was determined to hold out at all costs, down to last man. He was hoping and praying that the Americans would get involved but he wasn’t interested in making a deal with Hitler either way. The British went it alone from June, 1940 to Dec 1941.

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
  215. @Mr. Anon

    19th Century battles typically lasted one day (Waterloo) to three days (Gettysburg). They were horrific but then they were over.

    By 1864, Americans were digging trenches so they didn’t have to fight stand-up battles anymore, which turned battles into long slogs that just went on and on. The Europeans didn’t pay much attention to the evolution of tactics among the American amateurs, but then they did the same thing from a month or two into the Great War, so the Western Front went on for more than four years.

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
  216. utu says:
    @Jack D

    “but by changing the psychology of the people” – Slaughter of civilians by mass bombing of cities was a minor part of the equation. Germans or Japanese still would rally around their leaders after Dresden and Hiroshima if there was a hope for defeating the allies with some Wunderwaffe.

    The total defeat and the total occupation with initial mass deaths from hunger and diseases were the main factor that broke their resistance but most importantly it was the hope for more or less normal future under the occupational authorities.

  217. S says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Makes sense. Philip Roth (b. 1933?) called his generation the last to read novels because they grew up before TV.

    That was one thing the 1966 version of Farenheit 451 did get across fairly well…ie the dumbing down of the population due to television.

  218. @Almost Missouri

    WW2 UK: Quartered Safe Out here by George MacDonald Fraser.

    WW2 Germany: Stuka Pilot by Hans Ulrich Rudel

  219. syonredux says:
    @James J O'Meara

    THE JUST AND THE UNJUST is, in my estimation, tied with GUARD as Cozzens best book. It might be the best novel about the law. All the lawyers that I know who have read it (a surprisingly high number) have a very high opinion of it.

  220. Danindc says:
    @Old Prude

    I read 20 years ago after someone commented on it (I think from Steve’s blog). Unbelievable. Prob best book I’ve ever read.

  221. Philip Neal says: • Website
    @syonredux

    To understand this you need to know what comes between Britain and Germany even now – 1 July, 1916. 19 240 dead in one day, all of them volunteers, and some of them Irish nationalist allies. I never knew a German who could grasp that (from a British point of view) 1916 was the most disastrous year of the twentieth century, and that 1 July 1916 was the most disastrous day. You can talk to them about the second world war but never the first. They do not look up into the blue skies of 28 June and see the white stone of 11 November and all that came between.

    And now that I think of it, 21 June 1919. It gave rise to a new item of Cockney rhyming slang, “scarper”. “Oi, you lot. Scarper.” Meaning “Get out of here”. Apples and pears – stairs. Scapa Flo – Go.

  222. fnn says:
    @hhsiii

    Not so rare in the isolationist Midwest. Purely partisan politics aside, Chicago and much of the surrounding territory was dominated by Col. McCormick’s Tribune (the main organ of anti-interventionism for the entire country at that time). Chicago in 1940-41 was also the headquarters of the America First Committee. And probably most of the Irish Catholics listened to Fr. Coughlin despite the imprecations of the local Archbishop.

    • Replies: @Hhsiii
  223. Jack D says:
    @utu

    I think the Cold War had a lot to do with it. Normally the Germans and the Japanese would not have tolerated an occupation which in some sense has never ended – the American soldiers are still there 75 years later. But their defense capabilities had been greatly damaged by the war so inviting the Americans to leave was in effect inviting the Russians to come.

    Maybe there was a brief window when the Americans might have left but now they are back to worrying about the Russians and the Chinese and can’t afford to ask the Americans to leave. The Japanese are now paying us for their own occupation.

  224. @Anonymous

    Tin Drum isn’t a war novel but an allegory about Germany in the Hitler period. Haven’t read it but watched the film, which is okay.

    One night in June, three police officers knocked on Michael Camfield’s front door in Oklahoma City to ask him about a movie he’d rented from Blockbuster Video.

    No, he wasn’t late returning it.

    No, he wasn’t one of those scofflaws who forgets to rewind his movie. And, no, he wasn’t under investigation for hogging the popcorn bowl.

    Michael Camfield had made a slightly bigger mistake. He had rented the 1979 Academy Award-winning film The Tin Drum.

    A group of tinhorn moralists in his hometown had recently given it a big thumb’s down, and they didn’t want him or anyone else to watch it. What happened next is a bit foggy.

    Camfield says the cops told him he was in possession of child pornography (that would be The Tin Drum) and could face criminal prosecution. Camfield knows a little bit about his civil liberties—he happens to be head of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union— but he says he got the distinct impression that officers one through three didn’t want to hear anything about liberty, civil or otherwise. He handed over the tape.

    The man responsible for the seizure of the movie—and eight other copies of it around town—is Bob Anderson, director of a group called Oklahomans for Children and Families. Bob is a man who doesn’t let pesky details get in the way of a crusade. He has not seen The Tin Drum. He doesn’t even know what it is about. “I don’t need to know the story,” he recently told National Public Radio. Anderson launched a battle against the movie after he heard the host of a religious radio show call it obscene. “He said it could be judged pornographic, and that’s all I needed to hear.”

    https://www.eclectica.org/v1n11/lease_tindrum.html

  225. @James J O'Meara

    “Arguably, Heinlein’s real Naval service was in Naval Intelligence, hence his involvement with Jack Parsons (he stole his wife and yacht) and Aleister Crowley., the rest was all cover story.”

    Hubbard, not Heinlein.

    • Replies: @James J O'Meara
  226. @annonymous

    Yes, that sounds right. JD Salinger, a sensitive literary man, was a soldier in Europe from June 1944 to May 1945. After that ordeal in his country’s service, he had some problems.

  227. @Simon

    Many years ago we were watching Battleground (1949) on NBC Saturday Night at the Movies and my father said “That’s how it was.”

  228. S Johnson says:

    The Second World War doesn’t seem to have left as big a mark on English letters.

    From a Times list of the 50 best British authors since 1945 only eight served in the military during the war; here they are:

    William Golding (Royal Navy, good war)

    Kingsley Amis (army, Western Europe after D-Day)

    Ian Fleming (Naval Intelligence)

    Jan Morris (as James Morris, in the army in Trieste, became regimental intelligence officer)

    Roald Dahl (fighter pilot, good war)

    Anthony Burgess (educational corps)

    Mervyn Peake (army and later war artist)

    Anthony Powell (military intelligence, mostly in London)

    You might add Richard Adams (army in Palestine, Europe and East Asia, no direct action) whose Watership Down was pretty influenced by the war years.

    Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene who had already made their reputations as authors also enlisted and wrote good books directly translating their experiences into fiction (Put Out More Flags, Sword of Honour and The Heart of the Matter), which is more than any of the above authors attempted (Dahl wrote a memoir aimed mainly at kids).

    Possible reasons:

    1- There wasn’t really a theatre like the Pacific where British troops were in action consistently over most of their war. Normandy and afterwards was an Anglo-American enterprise with the Yanks in the driver’s seat.
    2- The British experience of 1914-19 had been so all-consuming and traumatic for those involved (although also producing few fictionalisations) that by 1945 young authors probably felt that war was a little played out. In contrast 1941-45 was the first big American experience of industrialised warfare.
    3- With the officer class system in the UK, intellectual types were more likely to be directed to the educational corps or intelligence corps, thus giving them either less vivid experiences or making them less likely to write about them later.
    4- WRT (1) maybe the ultimate book about the British experience of WW2 is Nicholas Monsarrat’s The Cruel Sea, about the Atlantic campaign.

  229. @Almost Missouri

    There are a couple of good Japanese naval and aviation memoirs, but I’ve never found a Japanese infantry memoir despite millions of Japanese having served as such.

    Not many Japanese infantrymen survived WWII.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  230. @Peter D. Bredon

    Interesting. I didn’t know that.

  231. 6dust6 says:
    @Anonymous

    “…at one time defending graffiti as public art…” I think Mailer was ahead of his time with that observation.

  232. @Meretricious

    I agree with the conventional wisdom. Mailer had the talent to be a major novelist, but it was a talent he wasted.

  233. My impression is that sci-fi writers like Heinlein and Asimov tended to have technical jobs in war industries stateside.

    Heinlein was a civilian employee for the Navy, but not for lack of trying to get back in the service. They would not take him because he’d been medically discharged after contracting pulmonary tuberculosis. He graduated from the USNA in 1929.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  234. @Matt Buckalew

    “[N]o one remembers [Hersey] because again he played no role in 1960s politics.”

    But not for lack of trying. In 1968, in The Algiers Motel Incident, Hersey sought to deflect from the massive, black supremacist riot in Detroit of the previous year, by focusing on the police killings of three young black men in the eponymous motel. One of Hersey’s tactics was to “debunk” police reports that they had been under sniper fire on various city blocks, by asserting that there had been only one black sniper in the entire city. According to Hersey, this lone, black sniper had superhuman speed, agility, and ability to dodge rounds fired by local and state police and the National Guard. He would fire a few rounds on one block, then run a block or two away, fire a few more rounds, and so on. Hersey failed to attain the heroic, “ally” status he sought.

    • Thanks: Almost Missouri
    • Replies: @David In TN
    , @Keypusher
  235. @John Pepple

    Thanks. Is there a particular translation you recommend?

    • Replies: @John Pepple
  236. @NorthOfTheOneOhOne

    I suspect if Heinlein’s health had held up and he’d stayed in the Navy, he would have become during WWII a staff officer, maybe chief of staff, for Ernest King, his first captain on the aircraft carrier Lexington in the late 1920s, who was head of naval operations during WWII.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  237. @Anonymous

    The part where Manchester brags about how big his manhood is was a tell.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  238. The single best book ever written about combat in the 20th Century: STORM OF STEEL by Ernst Junger. It was written by a man who fought in the front lines for most of WWI and received the highest available award for courage in the German army. He was again in WWII and his description of the combat on the Russian front published in A GERMAN OFFICER IN OCCUPIED PARIS. The War Journals 1941-45 reflects in part what he saw and communicated to the German high command was likely the reason for Rommel etc turning against Hitler.

    One other writer Curzio Malaparte whose two books. THE SKIN and KAPUTT are the only books that approach JUnger in the level of truth telling and both are very accessible… The American writers that the author mentions are all second rate.

    • Replies: @David Davenport
  239. @Bardon Kaldian

    they are, even as participants, basically spectators.

    Perhaps you are referring to something else. In War and Peace Andre Bolkonsky and Anatole Kuragin both died from wounds in the action at Borodino. Some of the aristocrats in his novel fit your description. Not all.

  240. syonredux says:
    @Steve Sailer

    L. Sprague de Camp worked at the Philadelphia Naval Yard alongside Asimov and Heinlein. Unlike Heinlein, he became a commissioned officer (Lt. Commander), and he always wondered if Heinlein vaguely resented that fact.

    • Replies: @Veracitor
  241. @Emil Nikola Richard

    The American publishing industry isn’t very friendly to Nazis.

    Jünger wasn’t a Nazi. But these distinctions are probably beyond the ken of the supercilious bigots who run American publishing.

  242. syonredux says:

    RE: Mailer,

    Here’s a clip of the notorious incident from the film MAIDSTONE where Rip Torn attacked Norman Mailer:

  243. Dutch Boy says:
    @Dmon

    The trilogy by Donald Burgett (Currahee, Seven Roads to Hell, Beyond the Rhine) is excellent. He was a 101st paratrooper who landed in Normandy and served all the way to VE Day.

  244. Dutch Boy says:
    @Bragadocious

    It is a mixture of fact and fiction. Manchester suffered severe trauma at Okinawa and admitted that not all his memories were clear. It is a gripping memoir.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  245. Hhsiii says:
    @fnn

    True but more about the European war than Asia.

    • Replies: @fnn
  246. Mr. Anon says:
    @Jack D

    No, Churchill was determined to hold out at all costs, down to last man. He was hoping and praying that the Americans would get involved but he wasn’t interested in making a deal with Hitler either way.

    His opinion might have changed if things had turned out different. Anyways, he could have been forced out of office and replaced with another Prime Minister who would have been willing to deal. History doesn’t always have to turn out one way.

    The British went it alone from June, 1940 to Dec 1941.

    Yes, everyone is aware. They weren’t quite alone. They had materiel support from the U.S.

  247. @James Braxton

    LOL!

    I first read Goodbye Darkness when I was serving as a Marine back in the eighties. I was too credulous about his story at the time because I figured he had too many fellow Marines who would’ve known the details of his service and outed him if he lied. Your fellow Marines often shower together; they change with you in the same rooms; they use the same heads. It’s hard to hide many personal details in those circumstances.

    And Manchester’s very graphic description of his encounter with a prostitute who was unable to accommodate his enormous penis just seemed too unbelievable for a famous 58-year-old author to make up.

    …when the enlisted man took liberty, the reader of Goodbye, Darkness senses he takes liberties. Manchester boasted that buddies cruelly christened him “Tripod” and “Sashweight” after eyes tripped over his penis in the shower. The sobering sight of his organ during a drunk hookup leaves his shocked paramour exclaiming “Jesus” and failing to rid Manchester of his virginity despite the aid of Vaseline. “I didn’t fit,” Manchester notes. “I tried again,” he explains. “She started to moan, but I simply couldn’t penetrate her.” The young man too small for the officer corps [Manchester had been turned down for Marine Corps Officer Training School because he was too small] was too big for women.

    In retrospect this is hilarious. How could Manchester think he could get away with this? Why would he even try? He was already an established best-selling author when he published this “memoir” in 1980. He didn’t need the money. He didn’t need the fame. Yet in his late fifties, he apparently felt the need to write a fictional account of his military adventures in which he not only invents a series of his heroic encounters in WW2 while also letting the audience know that his penis was so large that not even lubricant would allow him to enter a woman.

  248. @Almost Missouri

    The one I read was translated by Cecil Parrott.

  249. @Loyalty Over IQ Worship

    Funny thing: I don’t think actual WWII vets read that stuff. They read Mickey Spillane. Later they read books by W.E.B. Griffin. Especially if they were combat vets.

    Can’t remember the title, but a book I read about the film noir genre said that WWII veterans liked film noir, which was popular post 1945 through the earlier 1950’s. The book pointed out that several movies in the genre depicted veterans coming home to find out that their wives had been cheating on them. Two examples I can think of are *Criss Cross* and *The Blue Dahlia.*

  250. Mr. Anon says:
    @Steve Sailer

    There’s also the weaponry involved. In WWI, more men were killed by artillery than by any other kind of weapon. And even a lot of the other weapons were pretty deadly (and awful) like machineguns and flame-throwers. I don’t know what the butcher’s bill for artillery was during the Napoleonic wars, but I suspect that in that conflict, musket, saber, bayonet, and lance still killed more men than did artillery in that conflict. The steady progress of artillery over the century, both in accuracy and lethality, also had a lot to do with the perceived squalidness of war.

  251. syonredux says:

    I’ve read a fair bit of Mailer’s work, but I always found his sexual politics a tad off-putting. For example, there’s “The Time of her Time,” which features an Irish Catholic hero (Sergius O’Shaugnessy) buggering a middle-class Jewish girl (Denise Gondelman) while calling her a “dirty little Jew.” This being Mailer, it results in the girl having her first orgasm:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Time_of_Her_Time

    And this scene was the prototype for the sequence in Erica Jong’s How to Save Your Own Life ,where her Jewish heroine (Isadora Wing) brings a WASP girl to orgasm with an empty Dom Perignon bottle.

    The ethnic angle provides the erotic fuel for Mailer. Here’s this stuck-up, frigid Jewish bitch who finally “surrenders” her first orgasm to a super-macho Irish stud.

    And, of course, there’s a lot of Mailer’s fantasy-self in O’Shaughnessy. Mailer grew up idolizing Hemingway and once wrote about wanting to be a “golden Goy*.”

    Jong essentially reverses the scenario, with a frigid WASP-ette surrendering her first orgasm (engendered via a bottle) to a Jewish woman.

    Wheels within wheels.

    *Harold Bloom theorized that the man-on-man buggery scene in Mailer’s ANCIENT EVENINGS was really all about Mailer being buggered by Hemingway…

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  252. @SafeNow

    Someone once said that the quality of sports books is inversely proportional to the size of the ball. Thus, there are no great books about dodgeball.

    Who is the Balzac of marbles? Damon Runyon?

    Sports Ball Size Comparison

  253. @SunBakedSuburb

    Do they allow for precision? This is something the English language excels at; probably why it is the lingua franca, eclipsing Frogish amongst the diplomats and business cartels.

    English won over French at Waterloo (1815). Not because it’s more precise. Both French and German makes a distinction between:

    – The informal and informal second-person pronoun: tu / vous, du / Sie
    – Singular and plural second-person pronoun: tu / vous, du / ihr
    – Knowing in the abstract vs. knowing in the concrete: savoir / connaître, wissen / kennen
    – Male vs. female politician: le politicien / la politicianne, der Politiker / die Politikerin

    German also preserves the inflection system of old Indo-European languages, Latin, Greek, Sanskrit.

    Modern Chinese like English, is an analytical language, and less precise than an inflected language like German in most sense. But preserves partially the terseness and poetic quality of Classical Chinese, take for instance the rendering of the following phrase in Classical / Modern Chinese and English:

    夫子曰:“小子識之: 苛政猛於虎也。”

    孔子說:“弟子們記住這句話: 殘暴的政令比老虎還要可怕。”

    Confucius said, “Young men, take note of this: a harsh and oppressive government is more ferocious and fearsome than even a tiger.”

    Book of Rites, Confucius

    Classical Chinese requires far fewer “helper” words than Modern Chinese and English.

    Japanese is written partially with Chinese characters but is linguistically unrelated. It’s an agglutinative language like Korean, Hungarian or Finnish. It’s much more precise in one way– there about ten different ways to address someone depending on relationship and level of politeness.

    • Thanks: Gabe Ruth
  254. @syonredux

    Harold Bloom theorized that the man-on-man buggery scene in Mailer’s ANCIENT EVENINGS was really all about Mailer being buggered by Hemingway…

    Mailer was in the tank with the Panthers. According to Collier and Horowitz, Huey Newton buggered Bobby Seale.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  255. @Thomas McGonigle

    *Storm of Steel* was a memoir, not a novel. Ernst Junger had Nietzschean sentiments, but refused to join the NSDAP. In later years, Junger dropped acid with his good buddy Albert Hoffman, the inventor of LSD.

    One war memoir I suggest reading is Sam Watkin’s *Company Aytch or a Side Show of the Big Show: A Memoir of the Civil War*, first published in the 1870’s. Watkins was an unrepentant Confederate soldier. “Aytch” is an attempt to render his pronunciation of the letter “H.”

    As the title of his book implies, Watkin’s prose style was influenced by Mark Twain. It’s almost a 20th century style.

    *Company Aytch* is currently available form Amazon.com, but Amazon’s blurb says “by Sam R. Watkins, Ruth Hill Fulton McAllister, et al.” This makes me suspect that Amazon’s version of the book has some parts edited out.

    As best I can recall, “Company Aytch* never mentions black people. Sam Watkins said he was fighting for his country– the CSA.

  256. @utu

    Germans or Japanese still would rally around their leaders after Dresden and Hiroshima if there was a hope for defeating the allies with some Wunderwaffe.
    The total defeat and the total occupation with initial mass deaths from hunger and diseases were the main factor that broke their resistance

    Its somewhat different because Japan in August 1945 still held on to vast swaths of territory in China, SE Asia, and especially, Manchuria, where more than half of their industrial production is located.

    In addition the Americans had broken Japanese code and found out that the Japanese had predicted their invasion plan, Operation Downfall, with shocking accuracy. Had the Americans landed on southern Kyushu, as predicted, would have been met with 3-to-1 numerical advantage of a fortified IJA position.

    All this gives considerably more weight to Soviet Invasion of Manchuria as the primary consideration of Hirohito and SWC.

    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
  257. syonredux says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Gore Vidal buggered Jack Kerouac. That really upset Norman Mailer.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  258. Anonymous[238] • Disclaimer says:
    @JMcG

    Yeah I heard a Vietnam era special forces guy talk about how much they all loved Louis l’Amour books.

    I don’t think Gore Vidal was high on their list. LOL

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  259. fnn says:
    @Hhsiii

    Everyone in the area knew about the oil embargo. At least every male of German or Irish descent who was over the age of about 12 at the time of Pearl Harbor.

    • Replies: @hhsiii
  260. Cato says:
    @Anonymous

    Thanks, a lot to ponder there.
    I think I’d be well-satisfied with myself if I had put this post together.

    I agree. Lots of stuff I didn’t know (Salinger went PTSD?! — explains so much). Steve, you amaze me, a post like this when you put out around six posts a day… and you talk about working in a converted closet! Makes me feel so good about the number of wonderfully talented people in America.

    BTW: I read Vidal’s Palimpsest when it came out — his effort at autobiography, and I learned a lot from it.

    • Agree: Dieter Kief
  261. @syonredux

    Gore Vidal buggered Jack Kerouac.

    Not on the road, I hope.

    Gored!

    • LOL: Bardon Kaldian
  262. @S

    World War II bombardier Howard Zinn became a famous lefty author. Watch this short clip of him describing his shock at orders to bomb a quiet French town far from the battlefield just before the end of the war. Skip to 4m42s.

    • Thanks: S
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @S
  263. @Carlton Meyer

    Joseph Heller was pretty shook up over bombing a small French or Italian village.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  264. @Dutch Boy

    Manchester’s “Goodbye, Darkness” consists of a history of the Marines’ ground war in the Pacific from Guadalcanal in 1942 to Okinawa in 1945. Each campaign is covered from three perspectives: a conventional history, a 1970s visit to the island, and then an episode of combat featuring him as the protagonist.

    At the end of the book, he admits he didn’t fight on any of the islands covered, except Okinawa, where he was in combat for six weeks. So, he says, he spread his Okinawa memoirs out over early campaigns to make a more gripping read.

    How accurate his memoirs are, I don’t know.

    My impression from his historical works is that Manchester didn’t like uncertainty, so he tended to go with one interpretation as gospel. For example, in his Churchill biography, he announces in no uncertain terms that Churchill’s younger brother Jack was a half-brother fathered illegitimately by so-and-so. That’s not implausible, but when I went to look it up, most experts thought that old rumor was likely not true for various pretty good sounding reasons. That’s not to say for sure than Manchester got it wrong, but it is to say that in order to make a more interesting story, Manchester left out the boring uncertainty.

    In other words, Manchester was a great storyteller.

    It’s a little bit like reading Hollywood autobiographies by Frank Capra or John Huston or David Niven. These are the world’s greatest storytellers, so you get great stories, not necessarily exactly the way it really happened.

  265. JMcG says:
    @David Davenport

    The greater part of the Japanese Army served in China throughout the war. They got smacked around a little by the Soviets in 1939 and again in August of 45, but their war was nothing like what their counterparts in the Central Pacific faced.

  266. @Nicholas Stix

    This is similar to the defense used by the attorneys for the Zebra killers at their (purposely forgotten) 1975-76 trial. They claimed Anthony Harris, noi member who talked to Detectives Fotinos and Careris, did all the killings.

    As above, Anthony Harris killing all the victims was physically impossible.

    • Agree: Nicholas Stix
  267. @AnotherDad

    ” they did succeed in once and for all (or for at least for the next century or so) causing the Japanese and Germans to lose their taste for military conquest. ”

    And this was good, why? Because the Brit and America conquest swere, you know, good or otherwise unobjectionable? Typical Anglo bullshit: British Empire is just the progress of mankind, German attempt to obtain colonies is the barbaric Hun.

    Of course, the Brits wound up losing their Empire anyway, and America is ruled by Brandons, so how’s that working out? God forbid there should be a highly educated and cultured nation dominating central Europe. All must be enslaved by John Bull!

  268. JMcG says:

    There’s a really good novel about carrier pilots during WWII called The Last Tallyho by Richard Newhafer, himself a Naval Aviator. It’s very good, but seems to have been memory holed because it doesn’t have a favorable view of homosexuality. Newhafer went on to write scripts for Combat, 12 O’Clock High, and Cannon, believe it or not. He seems to be completely forgotten now.

  269. @Steve Sailer

    “In other words, Manchester was a great storyteller.”

    William Manchester was one of the major proponents of the Kennedy Cult, which is why Bobby and Jackie picked him to do the assassination book (which they didn’t like and tried to stop publication).

    Manchester claimed in his 1983 “Camelot” book to have had many private conversations with JFK, who supposedly told him he would withdraw from South Vietnam.

    • Replies: @Nicholas Stix
  270. JMcG says:
    @Abe

    Thanks Abe, Patrick MacGill was a cousin of one of my grandmothers. He has a couple of other books on the Great War: The Red Horizon, and The Brown Brethren. He also had a couple of semi-famous novels about the Irish in England: Children of the Dead End, and The Rat-Pit.
    There is a MacGill Summer School in his hometown of Glenties, County Donegal each year.
    I do think that The Great Push stands up well to comparison with any of the other Great War novels.

  271. @Almost Missouri

    I wasn’t that happy with the Sword of Honor trilogy. I also prefer memoirs, however. After a while, I started reading just to get to the end, thinking, “why am I wasting my time on this absurdity that isn’t real?”

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  272. @Mr Mox

    Yes, life is short, and novels are long. I attempted a Flashman novel last year during lockdown but failed to finish it. Then I read Brave New World in just two sittings, so I was excited over novels again. However, I tried Huxley’s The Island to follow up on BNW, but I gave up on it just today, about 1/3 through–I skipped to the back of the anthology, where his non-fiction Brave New World Revisited is already more interesting.

  273. Veracitor says:
    @syonredux

    In 1965 L. Sprague de Camp published The Arrows of Hercules, a historical novel about the world’s first military ordinance department and R&D center, created in 399 B.C. on the island of Ortygia just off Sicily by Dionysios, the master of Syracuse, for his great war against the Carthaginians.

    De Camp dedicated the book “To Isaac Asimov and Bob Heinlein, in memory of our own Ortygian days.”

    The Arrows of Hercules was founded on real events and people, though the extant history is sparser than that ballasting some of de Camp’s other historical novels. De Camp was and is justly famed for both historical (non-fiction as well as fiction) and technical writing, but it seems clear that the versimilitude of the office politics and other behaviours of the characters in The Arrows of Hercules is founded on de Camp’s experiences in WW2 military ordnance development.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  274. @Verymuchalive

    Sword of Honor is basically one novel (and you can get it as one volume, as I did). I think there was some commercial reason why it was published as three.

    • Agree: 36 ulster
  275. @Almost Missouri

    I don’t read Japanese books, so I’m not sure if the issue is lack of publishers for English translations or just what’s available in Japanese and/or available in Japanese for translation into English. My sense from living in Japan is that the Japanese themselves have a different relationship to sailors and aviators than to soldiers. Maybe the most salient issue is that most of the war crimes and atrocities –sources of embarrassment–were committed by the army. However, there is an ideological split between army and navy that predates even WWII. Moreover, the navy in particular seems to be viewed now as defenders of Japan, despite Japan being the original aggressors in that war. For example, model kits of famous WWII-era ships and planes can be found easily, but tanks not as much. Kamikaze pilots and manned-torpedo operators are clearly viewed as tragic, and just this year I saw a TV food program that featured a restaurant that used to serve kamikaze pilots their last meals. The grandson of the WWII-era chef will make you those pilots’ most-ordered dishes, and the restaurant is not lacking for customers. If you go to Naha in Okinawa, the old army HQ is just a spot on a map, but the old navy HQ is a museum that presents the last stand of those troops as, essentially, tragic-heroic. Interestingly, this exists alongside very pro-American sentiments with lots of photos of the US soldiers helping Okinawan elderly people and children in the muddy, levelled post-battle landscape. There is a certain genius in the US rebuilding that managed to produce a country that can celebrate its invaders while retaining its pride and jingoism.

    By the way, I am interested in reading memoirs of Americans who participated in the US occupation of Japan but have not found a good one. Do you have any recommendations?

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
    , @mmack
  276. @Bardon Kaldian

    There’s a lot of great writing in Gravity’s Rainbow, but the puns and silly songs are not it, IMO (exceptions are the song battle by the Kirghiz boy and girl, and the Aqyn’s song, which is actually a poem). The sign of a midwit GR admirer is someone who praises its humor. None of it is ha-ha funny, but a lot of it is brilliant.

    Pynchon can be funny, but in a very subtle way. Like the fake golf channel biopics he made up for Bleeding Edge. It’s not his strong suit.

  277. Anonymous[387] • Disclaimer says:
    @Steve Sailer

    The Fake History From a Real Historian That Fooled Presidents and Publishers

    https://spectator.org/stolen-valor-william-manchester-how-fake-news-became-fake-history/

    After reading this article, I don’t feel angry at Manchester, or feel like ridiculing him. I just feel a kind of sadness.

  278. @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    Do you know any good memoirs by US servicemen (or civilians) that focus on the US occupation/reconstruction of Japan post-WWII?

  279. Cortes says:
    @68W58

    The McAuslan series (“The General Danced At Dawn” and sequels) is based on service in Libya around 1946 with the Gordon Highlanders, although the opening story deals with an officer selection board in Burma or India, and there’s a Palestine train one. Some of the stories are hilarious and the pick is probably the Court Martial.

    • Replies: @68W58
  280. syonredux says:
    @Veracitor

    I’ll have to give it a try. I’ve mostly read de Camp’s fantasies/science fiction ( LEST DARKNESS FALL, the ENCHANTER series, “A Gun For Dinosaur,” etc) and his excellent non-fiction (THE ANCIENT ENGINEERS, LOST CONTINENTS) but I recall rather liking his historical novel THE DRAGON OF THE ISHTAR GATE.

  281. Cortes says:

    “Broadsword calling Danny Boy. Broadsword calling Danny Boy.”

    A couple of extracts from the Wikipedia page on Alistair (“Guns of Navarone”) MacLean:

    Whilst a university student MacLean began writing short stories for extra income, winning a competition in 1954 with the maritime story “Dileas”. He sold stories to the Daily Mirror and The Evening News. The wife of Ian Chapman, editor at the publishing company Collins, had been particularly moved by “Dileas” and the Chapmans arranged to meet with MacLean, suggesting he write a novel.[10] MacLean responded three months later with HMS Ulysses, based on his own war experiences, as well as credited insight from his brother Ian, a master mariner.[7][11]

    MacLean later described his writing process,

    I drew a cross square, lines down representing the characters, lines across representing chapters 1–15. Most of the characters died, in fact only one survived the book, but when I came to the end the graph looked somewhat lopsided, there were too many people dying in the first, fifth and tenth chapters so I had to rewrite it, giving an even dying space throughout. I suppose it sounds cold blooded and calculated, but that’s the way I did it.[12]
    MacLean was paid with a large advance of \$50,000, which made the headlines. Collins were rewarded when the book sold a quarter of a million copies in hardback in England in the first six months of publication. It went on to sell millions more.[12] Film rights were sold to Robert Clark of Associated British for £30,000, though a film was never made.[13][14] This money meant MacLean was able to devote himself to writing full-time.[8][1

    Cinema producer Elliot Kastner admired MacLean, and asked him if he was interested in writing an original screenplay. MacLean agreed to the proposition, and Kastner sent the writer two scripts, one by William Goldman, one by Robert and Jane Howard-Carrington, to familiarize himself with the format. Kastner said he wanted a World War Two story with a group of men on a mission to rescue someone, with a “ticking clock” and some female characters. MacLean agreed to write it for an initial \$10,000 with \$100,000 to come later. This script was Where Eagles Dare.[29]

    In July 1966, Kastner and his producing partner Jerry Gershwin announced they had purchased five screenplays from MacLean: Where Eagles Dare, When Eight Bells Toll, and three other unnamed ones.[30][31] (Kastner made four MacLean movies.) MacLean also wrote a novel for Where Eagles Dare after the screenplay which was published in 1967 before the film came out. The book was a bestseller, and the 1968 film version was a huge hit.[32]

  282. @Emil Nikola Richard

    Jünger was a Nazi for a short time in the roaring twenties. But he quit and started to despice Hitler in the thirties. His novel On the Marble Cliffs is quite critical of Hitler and appeared in 1939. Jünger live in thee castle than in the Förster-House of the Stauffenbrg family – the relatives of Hitler-assasin Schenck Grf von Stauffenberg. Jünger saved the lives of quite  few jews when he was stationed in Paris during WW II- where he socialized with Picasso etc..He never spoke about that. It got only public because one of those jews became rich & famous – the entrepreneur and writer Joseph Breitbach (see Joseph Breitbach Prize in the German wikipedia).
    I agree upon Jünger’s dreams – not that interesting. But Jünger was able to dream while being awake and thus notice things with astounding clarity – be it while traveling or gardening, or while taking his daily walk in Wilflingen etc. His best descriptions of plants and insects / beetles and other animals are masterful – and hardly surpassed. That’s also true for his late five volumes of diaries Siebzig Verweht  (Seventies Blown Away).In Wilflingen in the Staufenberg Haus is now a museum, which shows how he lived the last decades of his life in this remote and tiny village in Oberschwaben. 

  283. AceDeuce says:
    @Peter Johnson

    followed later by the Not-So-Great Generation (aka Baby Boomers).

    Who, in turn, have been followed by a bunch of flabby, brainwashed, clueless, whiny idiots who aspire to “adulting”.

  284. @David In TN

    I can see JFK leading Manchester on that way, but he would have been playing him for a fool. There’s no way Kennedy was getting us out of South Vietnam. He had already sent tens of thousands of military “advisors” over there, some of whom were already dying in battle while Kennedy was still alive.

    Possibility #1: Kennedy lied to Manchester;

    Possibility #2: Manchester lied to the public; or

    Possibility #3: They were both liars.

    Based on what I’m reading here, I wouldn’t take Manchester’s word for anything, but I also wouldn’t take the word of any Kennedy brother for anything, with one possible exception. Bobby reportedly told a confidante that a White leader could never meet with a group of “civil rights” activists. You had to meet with one at a time. They were very abusive towards Bobby in 1965, with Lena Horne the worst and most foul-mouthed of the lot.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
  285. @Chrisnonymous

    Waugh’s Sword of Honor is good, but it’s less energetic than his earlier novels. When Waugh came back from WWII at age 42, he decided that just as he had been the Voice of Youth in 1930, he now aspired to the honors of age and hoped that people would refer to him as a “grand old boy.”

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    , @syonredux
  286. @James J O'Meara

    No, I find his works on Gogol’, RLS, Tolstoy,… brilliant; on Kafka- thought provoking; on Proust & Joyce- good, but essentially superficial; on Dostoevsky- total misfire.

  287. @Mr. Anon

    Musket battles weren’t all that different from Ancient Greek battles where two lines charge at each other, a short interlude of mayhem ensues, them one side breaks and runs and the triumphant side tries to spear them in the back.

    You could spin it into a story of glory. But the mass production mayhem of months of artillery bombardment …

    • Replies: @S
  288. @Bardon Kaldian

    I disagree — Catch 22 is a classic beyond the war catagory

    • Agree: Tony massey
  289. @Almost Missouri

    Totally agree, re Eugene Sledge, With the Old Breed.

  290. @Dave Pinsen

    You’re probably right about the commercial reasons. But I am always impressed by how Waugh can condense action and details, but still retain the force of the story. Someone like Tolstoy would have written it at 2 or 3 times the length and the whole thing would be flabby and ponderous.

    • Replies: @36 ulster
  291. S says:
    @Carlton Meyer

    Watch this short clip of him describing his shock at orders to bomb a quiet French town far from the battlefield just before the end of the war.

    There could be an aspect of that that supersedes what is generally thought of as political, but, reflects rather, a war against identity, in this case French. Dresden would be a case of an attack, in part, upon German identity.

    The last few months of the war, a chaotic Germany was infiltrated heavily with Allied spies and espionage agents. I once read this account of a US soldier who had escaped his German captors in early ’45 and had met up with some other escapees being led by one of these Allied agents behind German lines, in a fair sized German city.

    His observation was that, not only did the war seem to be needlessly being prolonged, but, also, that the Allied bombing raids were quite deliberately (and seemingly systematically) targeting and destroying ancient German cultural landmarks, ie medieval churches, buildings, town centers, etc. He noted the Germans had also observed this, and, rather than making them want to quit, it was having the opposite effect of strengthening their resolve and will to fight, irrespective of what political sympathy they might potentially of had, to the bitter end.

    There’s a 1951 film, Decision Before Dawn, free on Youtube and linked below, which gives a pretty accurate picture of the goings on inside Germany during the last few months of the war.

    It tells the tale of one of these Allied espionage teams. Filmed in major bombed out German cities, that five years after the war were still clearing out the rubble, it shows very graphically, and in near real time, the destruction wrought upon major German cultural centers.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decision_Before_Dawn

  292. @Carlton Meyer

    The latest installment of Dan Carlin’s podcast series ‘Supernova in the East’ covers the battle for Peleliu in some detail. It’s quite informative.

    • Replies: @Captain Tripps
  293. Graham says:
    @Almost Missouri

    “I’ve never found a particularly good British WWII memoir. “

    There are some obvious counter examples but here’s a non-obvious one: “Love and War in the Apennines” by Eric Newby. He was captured in Italy after a failed commando attack, escaped with the help of a local girl who he later married, and lived in hiding in the mountains with farming folk.

    Apart from the interest of the story, the book is very honest (no other writer I know addresses the question of sexual frustration and masturbation among prisoners of war) and the author makes no attempt to set himself up as a hero.

    • Thanks: Almost Missouri
  294. Well I’ll put it out there since I’ve yet to see it and someone may have mentioned them and i didn’t read their comment but:
    John Steinbeck did write the moon is down. It was a short read of course but immensely readable still. Not my fav Steinbeck book by any means but it was about them dreaded nazi and it came out before all the rest.
    My fav war book is a fable by faulkner. I do believe it is also his very best work and he is by far my fav author so i have that bias. Of course it’s about ww1.
    I’ve read the majority of the books that are mentioned.
    In line with the topic my fav author of that class is easily Heller. I used to carry around a copy of picture this. No doubt I’ve read it 30+times. I’ve read catch-22 many times. Less than 22. I loved joe heller. My all time fav jooo tho mr unz is i believe worthy as well. All of hellers books are absolutely precious to me tho the author that wrote the most books i loved and is ahead of them all by alot is kilgore trout. I thought the children’s crusade was good. Nothing to speak of in his body. Not for me anyway.
    Billy pilgrim was a great guy. Wayyyyyyy better characters than Billy ill not even bother.
    I sure do wish i possessed the key to unlock Pynchon. Some of the sure fire smartest folk i ever met said gravitys rainbow Tony best war book ever.
    Can’t read the guy.

    [MORE]

    Great discussion. I haven’t heard of a few of these war books and my main interest in war is uncivil war 61-65 and the great one 14-18 in which my great grandfather fought in. I was 23 when he passed at almost 100. He missed it by a few weeks. Sure enough he was over there and always told me about canned rabbit. Apparently it wasn’t good but not nearly as bad as the rats or bosch.
    Whomever said and i forget who/whom and exactly what they said but i agree…why read a novel when you can read actual history and learn something?
    I do not fully buy into that. For exemplar, a fable is fiction but i don’t know how that very truer story could’ve ever been told. And i think he related it’s content accurately and here’s the thing…fsulkner in his characters had them thinking and saying/not saying things that had to have been true at any time during any war between any combatants. And he wrote those words very well and I’m not so sure the real truer story of the actual dialogues between that event were as eloquent as ol count no-count shown them.
    Hey iSteve thanks for actually making ac worthwhile contribution to the zeitgeist ever once in awhile.
    That’s one pokemon point dude.
    Keep it up. You’re off to a helluva start this year. Getting your peepers done too huh. That’s big stuff. You go guy.
    And today is THE KINGS birthday. Salut Elvis dude. You know he earned it.
    Again, you should scrap all this other stuff and just stick to books and authors and sech. A much moar interesting discussion follows. And productive i believe. I’m deff gonna read some of those books.
    Sure do wish i could overstand Pynchon. I swear the smartest smarty pants I’ve known that read war books allllllll(nearly anyway)said gravity rainbow.
    Great discussion

  295. @David Davenport

    Could high ranking generals have read these supposedly great WWII books? But I can’t imagine Curtis Lemay reading authors like Gore Vidal or Norman Mailer.

    Eisenhower? MacArthur? Doubt it.

    So these are books sold to guys who where never going to be in the military or perhaps had some minor unhappy role in the army.

    Any book that actually appeals to the fighting men (including the engineers) is considered low brow.

  296. Mr Mox says:
    @Mr. Anon

    Most human beings loath killing other human beings. Artillery is deadly because most of the time it is far away from where the actually killing takes place. Machineguns in WW I were deadly because it was a crew operated weapon and you couldn’t just aim above the charging enemy soldiers (as many infantry soldiers were wont to do) without your comrades noticing.

    Dave Grossman’s book ‘On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society’ gives a good insight in why it is so difficult for normal people to kill – and how military planners do their outmost to fix this “flaw”.

  297. @Steve Sailer

    If he wanted to tell made up stories,he should have been a novelist not a historian.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  298. @Mr. Anon

    In WWI, more men were killed by artillery than by any other kind of weapon. And even a lot of the other weapons were pretty deadly (and awful) like machineguns and flame-throwers.

  299. @Steve Sailer

    Well…. he actually was a grand old boy …

  300. @Dieter Kief

    relatives of Hitler-assasin Schenck Grf von Stauffenberg

    Has anybody done the social network graph of the assassinate-Hitler-plot participants? I have seen a lot of writers who had Junger well inside the perimeter of such a graph. In the Paris diaries more than one of his officer buddies gets whacked in the aftermath. I don’t recall anywhere him writing “I wonder if I’m next” or words to that effect but it seems like it must have crossed his mind. I also read his son’s death in Italy was more like an execution by the Germans but how could anybody prove something like that? A bunch of his Paris book is about him getting his son out of jail and disloyalty charges.

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  301. AceDeuce says:
    @Anonymous

    I was a “Vietnam era” Marine. I can vouch for L’Amour’s popularity among my peers. That’s where I first read his stuff. He was good at what he did. He wasn’t Flaubert, but he turned out a lot of worthwhile books. I was going to bring his books and their popularity with servicemen up myself.

    Later on, Tom Clancy was the guy to read.

    Speaking of military reading habits:

    Back then, it was amazing how much porn the PX sold, especially overseas. But I remember reading someone saying that the most popular reading items among military folks back then was….comic books.

    • Replies: @JMcG
    , @Almost Missouri
  302. nebulafox says:
    @Nicholas Stix

    Diem’s assassination made US feet on the ground inevitable. It would take four years and 20-something coups and attempted counter-coups for the South Vietnamese government to stabilize in late 1967. Then, of course, Tet.

    Contrary to popular perception, Third World regime changes during the Cold War almost always revolved around national politics in those countries with superpower involvement being a tangential factor at best. This was no exception. But that doesn’t change the fact that events within Vietnam combined with American perceptions on the conflict made intervention likely: no matter who was POTUS.

    (It wasn’t quite as bad as you’d expect: the US military did understand that they were facing a guerrilla conflict, not a conventional war of the kind that you saw in Korea, and would eventually come along in the 1970s in Vietnam after the Tet Offensive. But the template used-the British in Malaya-failed to recognize the significant differences between the two countries. Not least geography, and also demographics: the British could play divide and conquer based on Malaysia’s ethnic divides since the Communists were heavily ethnic Chinese. Vietnam had its minorities which did tend to be pretty America-friendly, but they were nowhere near numerically strong enough to make such a strategy viable.)

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  303. @Chrisnonymous

    Thanks for the inside view of Japan.

    I haven’t seen any occupation memoirs, never mind good ones. The only book I’ve (partially) read on the subject is William Craig’s Fall of Japan (1968), which is about the end of the war and the bomb as much as the occupation, but the bibliography may have suggestions. It did have some anecdotes I haven’t seen anywhere else, including:

    • Now forgotten Lt. McDilda, the captured P-51 pilot who made up a story under torture that the next A-bomb target was Tokyo, which made the Japanese command panic even more than they already were about the bombings, arguably accelerating the surrender. (The little lie also saved his life, as he was whisked from prison for further interrogation, while his fellow prisoners were all decapitated by the prison guards upon Japan’s surrender.)

    • The US delegates’ first question to the authorities in Tokyo after the surrender was where is the red light district? The Japanese authorities probably thought this was because the occupiers wanted to go on a spree, but actually it was because the US command wanted to make it off-limits to the incoming troops.

    • There were some rapes immediately after the occupying troops landed on the Japanese mainland, but the US authorities promptly disciplined their troops and largely contained the problem.

    Craig had a somewhat unusual backstory. He was slightly too young to serve in the war himself, but after high school he won a bunch of money at a game show, such that he could afford to put himself through college and grad school. Besides Fall of Japan he also wrote Enemy at the Gates in 1973 or so after interviewing a bunch of survivors of Stalingrad from both sides. (This was the “source” for the Jude Law movie, although the movie and the book have almost nothing in common.) Some of his interviewees seemed to me to be telling obvious fibs, but he also used official documentation from German and Soviet archives, and this is still a very readable history of that battle, if a little dated.

    • Thanks: JMcG
  304. mmack says:
    @Chrisnonymous

    “For example, model kits of famous WWII-era ships and planes can be found easily, but tanks not as much.”

    For the simple fact the Japanese Army was woefully unprepared to wage armored warfare and neglected building massive numbers and types of tanks like the US, USSR, Germany and the UK did. You have the Type 95 Light Tank, the Type 97 Medium Tank, and maybe a “tankette” kit here or there. Which is what you can find at most Japanese online hobby shops.

    On the winged thing side, Japanese manufacturers do a very good job offering a balance of IJAAF and IJN aircraft models. You can find kits of the Oscar, Frank, and Tony fighters as easily as you can find kits of the Zero. Of course the Zero is the most popular subject, like the Spitfire for the UK, the Messerschmitt 109 for Germany, or the Mustang for the USA.

    • Thanks: Chrisnonymous
  305. nebulafox says:
    @Almost Missouri

    One thing I have noticed is that the US tends to be abnormally prudish when it comes to prostitution. In many cultures, it’s out there in the open in a way that would be considered shocking in the United States. Patronizing prostitutes brings little to no social stigma as long as it is done with due discretion and within acceptable limits (19 year old draftees != 45 year old fathers and husbands, at least some of the time).

    Japan is one of those countries that has a traditionally… “open” approach to the profession. This attitude to the world’s oldest profession was taken to a horrific extreme with Japan’s own wartime brothels forcibly abducting non-prostitutes from civilian populations, but if kept within sane limits, it has its merits. The rapes went down when the brothels went back up. Politically correct? No. Moral. Eh… things in Japan weren’t as bad as some of the other countries we had bases in, but the very nature of the profession and the people it tends to attract means dubious ethics. But what do you want to do? Prostitution is not crack or heroin. It’s going to always be there as long as there are women who are desperate for money and men who want on demand sex.

    Attuned to the realities of life? Yes. Especially if your postwar garrison troops are second raters who need to be kept on a tight leash of discipline.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  306. Anon87 says:
    @Jack D

    I apologize that I can’t find the article or link for it, but wasn’t it claimed a huge number of British casualties occurred more to “friendly fire” than German bombs? Maybe it was an old War Nerd article?

  307. @nebulafox

    But the template used—the British in Malaya—failed to recognize the significant differences between the two countries. Not least demographics: the British could play divide and conquer based on Malaysia’s ethnic divides. Vietnam had its minorities, but nowhere near enough to make such a strategy viable.)

    Were the Malayan insurgents getting superpower, or even national, backing? It seems to me that the Vietnam conundrum was that so long as the Viet Cong could keep coming up with warm bodies, North Vietnam + China + the USSR were going to keep arming and supplying them, so there was no non-horrific solution to the insurgency in the South. And North Vietnam had one of the world’s largest standing armies at the time, waiting to invade, so as soon as the South’s + US’s attention wandered, they were going to roll in. And did.

    The Korean DMZ could be maintained because Korea is a peninsula, but Vietnam’s geographical narrowness didn’t help when the Communist forces could just go around the North-vs.-South border by using the neighboring countries, exploiting South Vietnam’s very long land border. Malaya was isolated—effectively an island, from the Communist point of view. Thailand not only was not supplying the insurgency, they didn’t want Commies on their border either.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
  308. @Almost Missouri

    To be precise, America created the Japanese war monster by selling to it oil and scrap iron and profiteering from it, then when Japan got too uppity, cut it it off at knees. Japan itself did not produce oil and only had some in Manchuria, and altogether 700 times smaller in production than US.

    U.S. fields accounted for slightly more than 70 percent of world oil production in 1925, around 63 percent in 1941, and over 50 percent in 1950.

    https://www.americanforeignrelations.com/O-W/Oil-Oil-and-world-power.html

    The US oil embargo did not take place after the Nanjing Atrocity (1937). Nor after the Battle of Wuhan (1938), where the Japanese failed to encircle and destroy Chinese armies, and would have most likely been compelled to end the war had there been a US embargo — But after Japan invaded Vichy French Indochina in 1940.

    This is not to say the US was the only one playing both sides. The Japanese Army’s traditional rival is the Soviet Russia. But the IJA ended up fighting a war against the ally they originally wanted, KMT, instead of the Soviets and their proxy, Communist Party of China (CPC).

  309. @nebulafox

    One thing I have noticed is that the US tends to be abnormally prudish when it comes to prostitution. In many cultures, it’s out there in the open in a way that would be considered shocking in the United States.

    Western arch-source Thomas Aquinas considered prostitution to be a necessary evil in, I think, Summa Theologica. (Who says theology is boring?) Still, this strand of Western tradition didn’t originally make it to the United States, though nowadays the US has to be one of the most debauched and libertine cultures—provided the debauchery is dressed up on neo-Puritanical “woke” clothing.

    I would almost say that this may be a rare instance where Left’s critique of American Calvinism has a bit of validity, but the original Calvinists in America, the Dutch, were very pragmatic and practical and, well, Dutch about prostitution and just about everything else, so I’m not sure this can be laid at Calvin’s feet after all.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Peter D. Bredon
  310. nebulafox says:
    @Almost Missouri

    Nowhere near as much foreign backing as the North Vietnamese ended up getting, especially since the PRC had its own issues to focus on. But then, the British had nowhere near the amount of resources we did, either. Or the amount of allies we had in Vietnam: South Koreans, Australians, Thais, they all had military formations in South Vietnam alongside us. Malaysia used to be well over a third ethnic Chinese, so they didn’t really need it, either.

    You hit the nail on the head, though: geography was the big difference. Lao was for all intents and purposes a North Vietnamese protectorate, Cambodia was a weak state to the point that Sihanouk was tacitly willing to let us bomb the eastern parts of the country to put the North Vietnamese under pressure, in between re-establishing relations with the US when Nixon came to power in 1969 and the Lon Nol coup in 1970. Note, however, that the conflict post-1968 wasn’t an insurgency any longer, but a conventional conflict. Couple that with the Sino-Soviet split, and you had a more workable situation for the US militarily: ironic, considering the politics back home.

    (Also, your note on Thailand: unrelated, but one of my favorite little known stories to prove how much they didn’t want Communists on their border… did you know there was a “lost” KMT army that used the Southeast Asian drug trade for money to continue fighting throughout the 1950s, and ended up settling in rural Thailand when Chiang ordered them from Taipei to give up? The Thai government was more than willing to accept them despite their shady opium filled past because of their expertise in fighting Communists.

    Mae Salong looks more Yunnan than Thailand to this day: but they grow nothing more potent than coffee now.)

    >Still, this strand of Western tradition didn’t originally make it to the United States, though nowadays the US has to be one of the most debauched and libertine cultures—provided the debauchery is dressed up on neo-Puritanical “woke” clothing.

    It’s funny, but a mix of oversaturation and sheltered childhoods have led to far less ribald young adulthoods for many Millennials. The pro-sex attitude is more high school insecurity about real life than actual background. When I heard about some of the stuff people were doing in the 1970s and 1980s…

    I should note that “pragmatic on prostitution” should not be confused with “liberal”. Thailand is, once again, a great example. Don’t let the international reputation fool you, it’s a deeply conservative, very religious culture on the whole once you get away from the fleshpots (which are mostly frequented by tourists-native Thais have their own, more discreet brothels).

  311. @Chrisnonymous

    I do not.

    However, there is an ideological split between army and navy that predates even WWII.

    Yes interservice rivalry goes back to Chōshū vs Satsuma Domain since Tokugawa. The IJN viewed the war with China as largely the army’s war.

    Furthermore within the army there was the extremely heated rivalry between Kōdōha “Imperial Way Faction” and Tōseiha “Control Faction” that culminated in the 1936 February 26th Incident 二・二六事件 Ni Ni-Roku Jiken.

    Mishima has a fictionalized account of this in his Patriotism 憂國.

    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
  312. prosa123 says:

    I should note that “pragmatic on prostitution” should not be confused with “liberal”. Thailand is, once again, a great example. Don’t let the international reputation fool you, it’s a deeply conservative, very religious culture on the whole once you get away from the fleshpots (which are mostly frequented by tourists-native Thais have their own, more discreet brothels).

    Thailand has been losing some of its sex tourism business to legal sex resorts in the Dominican Republic. It’s much cheaper and faster to get there from the US than to far-off Thailand. The Dominican sex resorts hire their women from Europe, mostly Eastern Europe, though some have local girls available at reduced prices.

    As for US prudery when it comes to prostitution, it may be taboo yet these “Asian bodywork spas” operate openly in most places. It seems as if every downscale shopping plaza in my area has one. As long as they don’t get too blatant, for example by offering bareback, they seldom get busted.

  313. nebulafox says:
    @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    You’ve got to ditch historical hindsight. Until the late 1920s when things started to get out of control with the military and the Depression, Japan was just another colonial power who were, near as I can tell, content with what they already had. (If they weren’t, the Kwantung Army wouldn’t have had to resort to covert actions to get what they wanted in 1928 and 1931.) Selling stuff to them was, practically speaking, no different than selling to the British or French.

    You are correct, though: policy toward Japan in the pre-WWII years was hardly the rah-rah democracy act you’d guess through American pop culture. It was also hardly uniform with our allies. Even as American relations with Tokyo deteriorated, the British kept an amicable relationship with Japan until the early 1940s-something that Chiang Kai-Shek noted.

    >Furthermore within the army there was the extremely heated rivalry between Kōdōha “Imperial Way Faction” and Tōseiha “Control Faction” that culminated in the 1936 February 26th Incident 二・二六事件 Ni Ni-Roku Jiken.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikki_Kita

    He was executed for his role in the 1936 attempted coup. This guy is my go-to example when I argue that Imperial Japan was not a “fascist” state, but dominated by traditional elites of the kind that fascists subordinated elsewhere.

  314. @Steve Sailer

    According to this Imperial War Museum page, it was Pont-Saint-Martin in Italy.

    https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/joseph-heller-and-catch-22

    The purpose of the raid was to prevent German reinforcements travelling though, presumably by destroying the eponymous Pont. But in the photo at the IWM page it looks like the bridge survived though many residents and their homes did not.

    As suggested in the video Carlton Meyer linked, if all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. Or in other words, if you’re commanding a bomber force, you’re going to go bombing with it at anything within range, even if all the worthwhile targets are already destroyed. After all, Bomber Command does not get any credit for not bombing.

  315. prosa123 says:
    @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    To be precise, America created the Japanese war monster by selling to it oil and scrap iron and profiteering from it, then when Japan got too uppity, cut it it off at knees.

    Rumor has it that when New York demolished the Second Avenue El in 1940* the city sold the scrap metal to Japanese companies, who within a couple of years used it to make weapons for use against American troops. It’s the sort of rumor that’s mostly but not completely false. The city sold the scrap to US-based scrap metal dealers, some of whom sold scrap to Japan among many other buyers, and it’s possible that some portion ended up in Japanese weapons. It’s impossible to know how much, given the generally fungible nature of scrap metal, but chances are it was only a very small percentage.

    * = there was no further need for the Second Avenue El as it would soon be replaced by a shiny new subway running under Second Avenue. How’d that work out?

    • Replies: @36 ulster
  316. Jack D says:
    @Almost Missouri

    BTW, that “52 rapes at Baylor” lawsuit appears to have gone into a black hole. When I googled it, there were a million stories about how this lawsuit had been filed, but after that, crickets. Filing a lawsuit is easy – you can allege whatever your imagination permits (and the newspapers will reprint your allegations – no proof required). Winning one is something else.

    Modern woke attitudes about sex are completely schizophrenic (just like the woke women who formulate woke thinking). OTOH, there is no form of sex that is off limits but OTOH consent is fetishized. Consent must exist as to every aspect of sex, it must exist prospectively, it must exist retrospectively, it can be negated by societal opression, differences in status, consumption of any amount of alcohol, etc. Preferably it should be in writing. In fact consent, while theoretcially possible is, in the case of heterosexual sex, impossible to achieve as a practical matter so therefore all heterosexual sex is actually a form of rape.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  317. The US oil embargo did not take place after the Nanjing Atrocity (1937). Nor after the Battle of Wuhan (1938), where the Japanese failed to encircle and destroy Chinese armies, and would have most likely been compelled to end the war had there been a US embargo — But after Japan invaded Vichy French Indochina in 1940.

    The British invaded French Syria, French Lebanon, French Mozambique, and attempted to invade French Dakar while attacking French ships wherever it found them. But when Japan invaded French Indochina, the USA was outraged.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  318. Jack D says:
    @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    America created the Japanese war monster by selling to it oil and scrap iron and profiteering from it, then when Japan got too uppity, cut it it off at knees.

    I don’t understand. Was America’s mistake selling the Japanese oil and scrap in the first place, or stopping the sale or not stopping the sale sooner? Somehow, whatever it does America is wrong.

  319. @Anonymous

    Oh come now.

    Manchester lived for nearly sixty years after the end of WW2. In that time, he published around two dozen books on various subjects, including novels, histories, and biographies. In total, these works comprised over ten thousand pages of published material. Much of that work required research. So he worked very hard for decades, and he had genuine talent as a writer.

    With that in mind, how damaging could the war have been for him? Manchester was clearly a fantasist whose ambition pushed him to create a heroic war record out of military service he should have already been proud of – and to add a gargantuan dick to top it off.

    You shouldn’t be sad. You should be laughing. And amazed he could get away with it.

  320. @Mr. Anon

    Wasn’t there some Pope who ruled you could use a longbow only against Muslims and other heathens?

    The bow, because you can aim from out of harms way, seems cowardly, unmanly. Same with rifles (sorry, American Sniper and Rifleman fans [the latter included Brezhnev).

    The only manly weapons are handguns and swords, which can be used in single combat or duels.

    How “heroic” is a pilot dropping bombs on civilians from 30,000 feet?

    Machine guns quickly became identified with gangsters. As for flamethrowers, hard to seem heroic, but the sheer audacity can be comic.

    https://static1.thegamerimages.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Hank_Scorpio.png?q=50&fit=contain&w=750&h=375&dpr=1.5

    It’s the weapon a drunken washed-up actor would use against a woman who’s already been beaten senseless and is floating in a pool. Ha Ha.

    • Replies: @syonredux
  321. @Dave Pinsen

    Off the top of my head, I would think the same reason Tolkien’s LOTR was in three volumes: postwar shortages or rationing of paper. Unwin was willing to publish the book but not to risk all that paper on one big volume, so they made him divide it in three (like a Victorian “triple decker” novel), in case the first volume bombed. The rest is history.

    IIRC, that’s when Tolkien changed the structure of what was now “volume II” and had alternating chapters, with the Hobbits in one story and the others in another. Or was it the other way around? Can’t recall, I was asleep by then.

  322. @Jack D

    I don’t understand. Was America’s mistake selling the Japanese oil and scrap in the first place, or stopping the sale or not stopping the sale sooner? Somehow, whatever it does America is wrong.

    I admire his ponderous implication that somehow selling oil to a country we are _not_ at war with creates a “war monster.”

    Japan was a country that had to nearly everyone’s surprise already beaten the Russians in 1905, soon afterwards occupied Korea, and then later required a naval conference in the early 1920s and a naval treaty in 1930 to prevent an arm race in the Pacific. The Japanese military had already proven its mettle to the world long before it invaded Manchuria.

    He appears to know a great deal about Japanese history, but his judgment is skewed and his knowledge of economics infantile.

  323. Art Deco says:
    @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    America created the Japanese war monster

    It did nothing of the kind. Japan had political goals which incorporated stomping through the Far East, including occupying large parts of China. No one compelled them to do that.

  324. @Dieter Kief

    “Jünger saved the lives of quite few jews when he was stationed in Paris during WW II- where he socialized with Picasso etc..”

    My favorite Celine story is how when Jünger , who admired his novels, stopped by to visit the great writer, Celine upbraided him for how slowly if at all the occupiers were rounding up Jews. He offered to provide names and addresses to help.

  325. @Dieter Kief

    “Jünger was able to dream while being awake and thus notice things with astounding clarity”

    The dreamers of the day are dangerous… for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.

    T. E. Lawrence
    The Seven Pillars of Wisdom suppressed introductory chapter (1926).

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  326. @Almost Missouri

    ” The Japanese authorities probably thought this was because the occupiers wanted to go on a spree, but actually it was because the US command wanted to make it off-limits to the incoming troops.”

    My first instinct was no, because they wanted to keep it to themselves, but then I realized that these sort of Yankee do-gooder pricks really would be that pure.

    “I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine.”

  327. 68W58 says:
    @Cortes

    They are great and the nice thing about the “court martial” story is how he brings McAuslan’s misadventures in a previous story back in. I’ve read a lot of Fraser and I understand why he’s not considered a “great writer” but I think he consistently makes his readers laugh and he can tell stories about real events while being both entertaining and remaining faithful to the actual events. While most of his historical fiction involves military action, his novel “Black Ajax” about the first black heavyweight champion is also a great read.

    • Replies: @Cortes
  328. @Almost Missouri

    “Still, this strand of Western tradition didn’t originally make it to the United States, though nowadays the US has to be one of the most debauched and libertine cultures—provided the debauchery is dressed up on neo-Puritanical “woke” clothing.”

    Interesting. Puritanism was always just window-dressing or as we would say, virtue signaling; it’s an empty vessel you can fill with any content. The same mentality that persecuted Hester Prynne now promotes transwomen.

    “the original Calvinists in America, the Dutch, were very pragmatic and practical and, well, Dutch about prostitution and just about everything else,”

    I wonder if that’s why that smug prick, Camus, made the Dutch the bad guys in The Fall. A lot of that French existentialism must have been rooted in Jansenism, with all their whining about “bastards” and bourgeoise hypocrisy. Puritans vs. realists. Imagine someone like Sartre, denouncing the “middle class bastards” while handing out Maoist propaganda on the streets — some moralist!

    It goes right back to the New Testament. As the Second Coming fails to materialize, the original anti-materialism cult gradually morphs from “no sex” to “And how shall we be properly married, O Lord?”

    • Replies: @Yngvar
  329. 36 ulster says:
    @Verymuchalive

    Peter Hitchens reviewed Sword of Honour in one of his Mail on Sunday essays, entitled The Second World Waugh; it’s well worth a read. PH speculates that the sinister Corporal Ludovic is not-too-loosely based on Robert Maxwell…

    • Replies: @Cortes
  330. Anonymous[387] • Disclaimer says:
    @Chrisnonymous

    Not quite what you are interested in, but if you read Japanese, 田村 泰次郎 (Taijiro Tamura0) wrote an interesting novel about a band of prostitutes in immediate post-war Japan, 肉体の門 (Gate of Flesh). Published in 1947, it provides an interesting picture of the struggle for life after abject defeat and occupation. One way the prostitutes deal with maintaining their dignity is vowing to never have sex with foreigners.

    • Thanks: Chrisnonymous
    • Replies: @Cortes
  331. JMcG says:
    @AceDeuce

    I’m sure you know, but the Army in the 70’s and 80’s had a lot of their basic instructional material issued as comic books. How to clean your rifle, that kind of thing. And they have the nerve to accuse you guys of being crayon eaters.

    • Replies: @S
  332. JMcG says:
    @Carlton Meyer

    That is a great point. Going right in my quiver.

  333. 36 ulster says:
    @prosa123

    Patience, Prosa, patience–Rome wasn’t burned in a day, ya know.

  334. Jack D says:
    @Anonymous

    To me, stolen valor is someone who was never in combat, maybe not even ever in the military, claiming that he was. Manchester may have exaggerated his war exploits a bit as he got older, but what story doesn’t get better in the retelling? Manchester really was wounded on Okinawa, really did carry shrapnel around in his body for the rest of his life. Some armchair warrior quibbling that it was shrapnel and not a bullet or that he was entitled to one Purple Heart but not two seems unseemly to me.

    • Agree: Johann Ricke
  335. Anonymous[189] • Disclaimer says:

    Heinlein, a Naval Academy graduate, fulfilled his military obligation in the peacetime 1930s and was ineligible to serve in WWII due to tuberculosis. Asimov served in the U.S. Army just after WWII.

    It’s really easy to look stuff up.

  336. @Emil Nikola Richard

    We have two high quality biogrphies of Ernst Jünger by Helmut Kiesel (2014), a well repected scholar, and Heimo Schilk, a journalist (2009). Both do what you ask for quite well. Heimo Schwilk maybe a bit more even.

  337. nsa says:

    You need only read the Australian Clavell’s King Rat for an accurate depiction of darwinian human nature when stressed to its limit. Mailer’s stuff is the pathetic opposite….typical faggy jooie drivel not worth your time.

  338. @AceDeuce

    I remember reading someone saying that the most popular reading items among military folks back then was….comic books.

    Wouldn’t be surprising. Comic books have been popular with troops on all sides going back at least to the First World War. Hitler even complained in Mein Kampf that the German WWI comic books weren’t as jingoistic and propagandistic as the British comic books, and called for national socialist backing for better (in propaganda value) comic books. This might have had something to do with increasing Goebbels’s importance as … Der Cömic Book Güy.

  339. @James Braxton

    William Manchester’s first job after the war was a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. There, he became a friend of H.L. Mencken and was mentored (without learning much) by him. His first book was on Mencken, titled Disturber of the Peace. His second was City of Anger, about crime in Baltimore. Manchester wrote a few other novels in the 50s.

    In the mid-50s, Manchester took a job with Wesleyan University and stayed there the rest of his life along with writing books.

    • Replies: @Art Deco
  340. @Jack D

    BTW, that “52 rapes at Baylor” lawsuit appears to have gone into a black hole.

    Thanks for the update. I did wonder what happened to that case. It sounded very dire on the surface. But as you imply, it was probably meant to.

    There’s the old saying, “If you have the law, pound the law! If you have the facts, pound the facts! If you don’t have the law or the facts, pound the table!”
    Modern addendum: “If you don’t have the law or the facts or a table, pound the pudenda!”

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @Brutusale
  341. @Bardon Kaldian

    But, from WW1 to Hitler and adventures and LSD he was always experiencing something & not emotionally-mentally processing anything.

    Here is a quote from ernst Jünger that shows how right you are by proving you wrong – or is it the other way round – – – –

    The pleasure of lonely walks rests upon the fact that we carry our belongings with us. Our consiousness accompanies us like a mirror ball, or even better like an aura, at wich’s middle point we exist. The beautiful pictures penetrate this aura and are being athmospherically changed in it. So – we we walk about as if under sings – under northern lights, sunrings and raibows. This precious marriage and procreation with the world counts as one of the highest delights we are granted.

    Ernst Jünger The Adventurous Heart

    “Das Vergnügen einsamer Spaziergänge beruht gewiss auch darauf, dass man das Seine mit sich trägt. Unser Bewusstsein begleitet uns gleich einem Kugelspiegel, oder besser gleich einer Aura, deren Mittelpunkt wir sind. Die schönen Bilder dringen in diese Aura ein und erfahren in ihr eine atmosphärische Veränderung. So schreiten wir unter Zeichen wie unter Nordlichtern, Sonnenringen und Regenbögen dahin. Diese erlesene Vermählung und Zeugung mit der Welt gehört zu den höchsten Genüssen, die uns beschieden sind.”

    ― Ernst Jünger, Das abenteuerliche Herz: Zweite Fassung – Figuren und Capriccios

    • Thanks: Almost Missouri
  342. @The Last Real Calvinist

    Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is a superb podcast. Though he goes months between episodes.

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  343. hhsiii says:
    @fnn

    Thanks for correcting me. Seems you are right.

  344. @Jack D

    Manchester may have exaggerated his war exploits a bit as he got older, but what story doesn’t get better in the retelling?

    Exaggerated them “a bit”? Did you read that essay?

    Manchester really was wounded on Okinawa, really did carry shrapnel around in his body for the rest of his life. Some armchair warrior quibbling that it was shrapnel and not a bullet or that he was entitled to one Purple Heart but not two seems unseemly to me.

    Manchester awarded himself a Silver Star and a Navy Cross. The Silver Star is awarded for “valor” in combat and “gallantry in action.” The Navy Cross is awarded for “extraordinary heroism in combat.” While neither is as difficult to get as the Medal of Honor, the military doesn’t hand either of those medals out to just anyone.

    So the “stolen valor” part in the headline is literally true. Manchester was never awarded either medal. And if you believe that only “armchair warriors” care about such things, you have no clue what you are talking about.

    Earning a Purple Heart is not so difficult. You could earn one running away from the enemy. Literally. I’m not accusing Manchester of doing any such thing; I’m just pointing out that getting wounded in action is not necessarily heroic.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  345. @James J O'Meara

    I am going to go out on a limb and assume that you are not simply a divide and conquer troll.

    Because your comment was so vile, ridiculous and unsupportable and because you
    call into question Italian American loyalty, at a truly perilous time for our Nation, when every
    patriot voice needs to be heard, I am compelled to respond though its out of character
    for me.

    Firstly anyone who looks to the Godfather as anything other than Pulp Fiction written
    from hunger should not be taken too seriously, but when you add to that by
    misquoting /misunderstanding the premise, and use that as supposition, you really
    demonstrate ignorance.

    I know that no one really wants to read a boring soliloquy on the Italian American experience
    so in response to your slander I will list just two simple points and I ask that you and interested
    fellow comment readers have the decency to consider them.

    1) Over the last century fully 75 % of all media depictions of Italians have been negative
    and I am going to go out on a limb and opine the remaining 25% did not depict Ivy educated
    Brain surgeons who recite French poetry while bravely operating on the front lines under
    Artillery attack

    75 % is not by happenstance, it is, in fact, cultural genocide by proxy. Did you ever once
    consider that maybe, just maybe, these depictions were were not really truthful and could there
    be an ulterior motive behind that level of vitriol?

    2) I wonder if you know, you probably do but that would shit can your evil wop narrative, that
    one in eleven or twelve, I forget now, American W.W.2 soldiers were of first generation
    Italian stock. They did well to. I am sure many would agree that when you are willing, as so many
    Americans of German decent did also, to fight in and against a nation for which you still had strong
    cultural ties, you demonstrate the highest level of loyalty and love for your adopted country.
    Can you, in fairness, disagree with that?

    I have to add this, as a habitual reader of comments, the evil Wop/ Guido/not quite White/
    Papist/ add the negative trait of your choice here, is a common enough occurrence.
    I find it both hurtful and sadly amusing that the very same people who rightfully bemoan
    the injustice of their own cultural annihilation at the hands of Marxist Jews and their fellow travelers can not or will not extend that same “courtesy” towards Italians, and in fact, are all to willing to accept this criminally shameful misrepresentation without question. To hell with any level of solidarity or even common decency or fairness.

    How small. How stupid to not realize how you are being played, why and by whom.

    In closing I ask you directly, just what did Italians and/or their decedents do to
    “destroy” America? and just who are/were the “they” that tried to keep them out?

    I am more than willing to debate this but advise you to keep your answers factual and
    be willing to include supporting documentation for same. I will simply ignore anecdotes
    about your sisters hairy ex boyfriend and his tomato stained tee shirts.

    In the great divide and conquer strategy of Americas enemies, your ill founded animosity towards
    one of the largest and most loyal groups and your need to “vent” same in a semi public forum
    is questionable at the very least.

  346. @Pincher Martin

    The details of how JFK managed to get his PT boat torn in half by a Japanese cruiser are hazy, but nearly everyone at the scene agrees that Kennedy acted heroically after his boat went down.

    But even JFK was not given a Silver Star for his heroic efforts, even though both he and his father requested one. Instead, he received a Purple Heart and a Navy and Marine Corps Medal. He was later offered a Bronze Star for his efforts, which he declined.

    So, yes, these things matter, and Manchester was clearly stealing valor by awarding himself two very distinguished awards for heroism in action.

    • Agree: Johann Ricke
    • Replies: @JMcG
  347. @nebulafox

    Kwantung Army wouldn’t have had to resort to covert actions to get what they wanted in 1928 and 1931

    Yes, pivotal in all this was Manchurian militarist Zhang Xueliang 張学良, who was an opium addict and supposedly had an affair with Edda Ciano, daughter of Mussolini and wife of Italian ambassador in China.

    After the Kwantung Army assassinated his father in 1928, he went over on the side of Chiang in the Northeast Flag Replacement 東北易幟.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_reunification_(1928)

    This came as a major surprise for Chiang, who was ready to use Manchuria as a bargaining chip for Japan and Soviets.

    In 1929 Zhang would pick a fight with the Soviets over Chinese Eastern Railway (CER) and get stomped by the Red Army:

    The change from Soviet control to Chinese control started when the Chinese authorities made a radical move to try to remove Soviet management. Chinese authorities stormed the Soviet Consulate in Harbin. They arrested the General Manager of the CER, his assistant and other Soviet citizens and removed them from power in the CER.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Soviet_conflict_(1929)

    Then in 1931 he gave up Manchuria without barely a fight, this was very strange, not only considering his Manchurian Army was considered the best equipped in China at the time, and that he also failed to avenge his father.

    Lastly, he would be remembered for all eternity as “Hero of History” 千古功臣 for the Xi’an Incident (1936), kidnapping Chiang and forcing him to form Second United Front (1937-1946) with Mao.

    This guy is my go-to example when I argue that Imperial Japan was not a “fascist” state, but dominated by traditional elites of the kind that fascists subordinated elsewhere.

    Agree. Kita, like many Japanese pan-Asianists, had a key role in the 1911 Xinhai Revolution to overthrow the Manchus.

  348. hhsiii says:
    @James J O'Meara

    I love those scenes with Woltz and Hagen.

  349. Art Deco says:
    @David In TN

    H.L. Mencken and was mentored (without learning much) by him.

    He’d have been there about a year before Mencken suffered a catastrophic stroke and had to retire.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  350. Apologies for the broken sequence, not enough time given to edit.

  351. JMcG says:
    @Pincher Martin

    JFK did act heroically after getting his PT Boat sunk. But he got his boat sunk. The whole PT Boat program is now recognized as a waste of resources. Even during the war it was controversial as to its effectiveness. None of the PT boats in Blackett Strait that night hit anything despite launching dozens of torpedoes.
    Kennedy either had his radio turned off or didn’t monitor it that night. He was idling on one engine; his explanation was that he wanted to avoid having a luminescent wake give away his position. Left unsaid is how he managed to avoid detecting the Amagiri, a destroyer maneuvering at upwards of 30 knots. The Amagiri apparently wasn’t worried about her luminescent wake.
    The commanders of the McCain and the Fitgerald, whose ships were involved in collisions in 2017, were both cashiered. Kennedy saved some of his men who would have otherwise died. It he is the one responsible for the deaths and injuries to his crew in the first place.

    • Agree: Dave Pinsen
  352. @Mr. Anon

    The steady progress of artillery over the century, both in accuracy and lethality, also had a lot to do with the perceived squalidness of war.

    Not to mention medicine’s desperate struggles to keep up.

  353. syonredux says:
    @Steve Sailer

    SWORD OF HONOR may be less energetic than Waugh’s earlier efforts (To my mind, SCOOP and BLACK MISCHIEF are his greatest achievements) , but it’s also much better than the homoerotic BRIDESHEAD REVISTED. Without a doubt, that is his most over-rated novel.

  354. syonredux says:
    @Almost Missouri

    There were some rapes immediately after the occupying troops landed on the Japanese mainland, but the US authorities promptly disciplined their troops and largely contained the problem.

    Of course, the racial aspect regarding rapes committed by US troops in WW2 largely goes undiscussed. And by racial aspect, I mean the disproportionate role played by Blacks:

    Between June 14, 1944 and June 19, 1945, the US military tried 68 cases of ordinary rape involving 75 victims, of whom 3 (4%) were refugees. 

    A total of 139 soldiers were present at the crime scene – 117 (84%) were black and 22 (16%) were white. The army judged 116 of these soldiers, 94 (81%) black and 22 (19%) white. The prosecution used some of the soldiers not tried as witnesses against the defendants. One of the most important revelations is the military identity of rapists.

    Disproportionate…….

    To our surprise, the US military justice records reveal that the vast majority of soldiers tried for rape in France were not front-line combatants but rather members of logistical support units, that is to say soldiers who were responsible for supplying front-line soldiers with ammunition, food, gas and spare parts.

    Blacks were heavily concentrated in support units during WW2……

    https://www.cairn.info/revue-vingtieme-siecle-revue-d-histoire-2002-3-page-109.htm#

    I don’t think that Hollywood will ever get around to making a film about this episode in Black history:

    The 1945 Katsuyama killing incident was the murder of three African-American United States Marines in Katsuyama near Nago, Okinawa after the Battle of Okinawa in June 1945. Residents of Katsuyama had reportedly killed the three Marines for their repeated rape of village women during occupation of Okinawa and hid their bodies in a nearby cave out of fear for retaliation.[1] The Katsuyama incident was kept secret until 1997 when the bodies and identities of the Marines were discovered.[1]

    In June 1945, Allied victory at the major Battle of Okinawa led to the occupation of the highly-strategic Okinawa Prefecture of Japan shortly before the end of the Pacific War. Reportedly, three African-American soldiers of the United States Marines Corps began to repeatedly visit the village of Katsuyama, northwest of the city of Nago, and every time they violently took the village women into the nearby hills and raped them. The Marines became so confident that the villagers of Katsuyama were powerless to stop them, they came to the village without their weapons.[2]

    The villagers took advantage of this and ambushed them with the help of two armed Imperial Japanese Army soldiers who were hiding in the nearby jungle.[2] Shinsei Higa, who was sixteen at the time, remembers that “I didn’t see the actual killing because I was hiding in the mountains above, but I heard five or six gunshots and then a lot of footsteps and commotion. By late afternoon, we came down from the mountains and then everyone knew what had happened.”[1]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1945_Katsuyama_killing_incident

    • Thanks: Right_On
  355. James Michener (b. 1907) served in the Navy from 1941-1945, apparently as a historian.

    He was put in charge of making sure the sailors on his island were able to cast a vote in the election. A young, idealist goo-goo Republican, he misinterpreted this to mean he should encourage them, and put up banners and posters to that effect. When the bureaucrat above him visited the island and saw this, he was outraged. All that stuff had to come down. The Navy’s intent was to forestall angry letters from constituents claiming their sons weren’t able to vote. But to have them actually vote? Horrors!

    In 1968, by then a Democrat, Michener served as a Humphrey elector in Pennsylvania. He and at least one other elector were prepared to cast their votes for Richard Nixon if that was the only way to keep the election out of the House. That would have been the first and only time since 1820 that “faithless” electors voted for the other party’s nominated candidate. Both these stories are recounted in Presidential Lottery.

    (By the way, is anybody here familiar enough with Jimmy Carter’s biography to know if he voted in the 1944 election? He was eligible to, but was at the Naval Academy, where very few other midshipmen would have been.)

    Kurt Vonnegut (b. 1922)

    Talk about having a “bad job”, Vonnegut was one of America’s first Saab dealers, on Cape Cod in the 1950s. These had two-stroke engines, three-speed transmissions, and suicide doors. He didn’t sell many! Jay Leno didn’t live far from there, but he was a good decade away from a driver’s license.

    Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End was published in 1924-28, but it tended to be oblique and dauntingly modernistic.

    Like the war itself.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    , @AceDeuce
  356. @Art Deco

    I cannot picture H.L. Mencken being a Kennedy Cultist, which is what I meant about Manchester not learning much from him.

    I think Gary Wills wrote that William Manchester had a “puppy dog love for the Kennedys.”

    • Agree: Pincher Martin
  357. syonredux says:
    @James J O'Meara

    Wasn’t there some Pope who ruled you could use a longbow only against Muslims and other heathens?

    I think that that was the crossbow.

    RE: Immolating Nazis,

    It’s an interesting cinematic trend. In RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, Spielberg gave us Nazis (and a French collaborator ) getting immolated by God Almighty. Curiously, the sequence occurs in 1936, which is well before the Nazis committed any of their major crimes. QT has given us two sequences involving Nazi immolation (Hitler and Co. getting burned alive in a cinema, and Rick Dalton dispatching group of Nazis via flame thrower). In contrast to Spielberg, QT has his incineration fantasies take place after 1941 ( i.e., after the Nazis had committed lots of nasty massacres and atrocities).

    Klimov’s COME AND SEE (1985) takes a different perspective on the matter, as his film balks at burning Nazis to death. In the logic of the film, killing Nazis with fire would mirror Nazi brutality (the Nazis who are shot in the film locked children in a barn which they set on fire).

  358. @Pincher Martin

    Manchester had a knack for producing smooth, plausible narrative. His odd foray into medieval history, i.e. A World Lit by Fire, is written in a seductively authoritative voice, but it’s frequently ridiculous. Manchester had nothing but contempt for his subject here, resulting in a truly terrible book that has unfortunately been widely read and influential amongst some readers.

    • Replies: @JMcG
    , @Reg Cæsar
  359. @Reg Cæsar

    These had two-stroke engines, three-speed transmissions, and suicide doors.

    At least the steering wheel was on the left, which was good for America, if bad for Sweden. They didn’t drive on the right until 1967. No wonder Volvo and Saab were so obsessed with safety!

  360. JMcG says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    A World Lit by Fire is one of those rare books I’ve actually thrown across the room. It got very stupid very fast.

  361. @The Last Real Calvinist

    OT, and just for you, LRC. We were close to your old stomping grounds in 2020, and visited the obelisk at the “tripoint” of Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota.

    Can you guess which state’s capital is the closest to this point?

    NB: If you visit this point, be aware that it is actually in the intersection, not at the obelisk. We made that mistake, and now have to go back. At least it’s dry. All of Iowaxs other tri-points are in water.

  362. S says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Even as late as WWII, you could still find those who believed in the old way of doing things, such as the British army officer ‘Mad Jack’ Churchill, who fought the war with his trusty broadsword, longbow, and bagpipes, along with a few more modern weapons 🙂 .

    John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill, DSO & Bar, MC & Bar (16 September 1906 – 8 March 1996) was a British Army officer who fought in the Second World War with a longbow, bagpipes, and a Scottish broadsword. Nicknamed “Fighting Jack Churchill” and “Mad Jack”, he was known for the motto: “Any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed.”

    In May 1940, Churchill and some of his men ambushed a German patrol near L’Épinette (near Richebourg, Pas-de-Calais). Churchill gave the signal to attack by raising his broadsword. A common story is that Churchill killed a German with a longbow in this action. However, Churchill later said that his bows had been crushed by a lorry earlier in the campaign. After fighting at Dunkirk, he volunteered for the Commandos.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Churchill

  363. @Jack D

    Claiming to have a Silver Star or Purple Heart that wasn’t awarded to you to trick the public into buying your book fits the definition of stolen valor under the law.

    • Agree: Pincher Martin
  364. @JMcG

    The whole PT Boat program is now recognized as a waste of resources. Even during the war it was controversial as to its effectiveness. None of the PT boats in Blackett Strait that night hit anything despite launching dozens of torpedoes.

    Yes, but this was not the critical point that prevented Kennedy from receiving a medal for heroism. We often honor men for their sacrifices and derring-do in war even when we recognize that their efforts were wasted because the strategy they were implementing or the material and weapons they were given weren’t up to snuff.

    The real problem for Kennedy, as you point out, is that he got his boat sunk, and given the much greater maneuverability of the PT vis a vis a cruiser, that was difficult to explain. Some have even suggested that Kennedy could’ve been court-martialed for negligence. The original write-up for Kennedy’s medal was that he had ordered an attack on the cruiser, which was a lie.

    My guess is that the higher-ups recognized Kennedy demonstrated real courage after his boat sank, but were also uncomfortable giving him a Bronze Medal (or higher) for heroism when they could not understand how he got himself in such a situation in the first place. So they figured the Navy and Marine Corp Medal was a reasonable compromise. But that is just a guess. (Later in 1950, when JFK was a congressman, the Navy offered him the Bronze Medal, which Kennedy turned down.)

    In any case, the fact that Kennedy, whose family even at that time had political prominence, could not secure one of the more recognized medals for his genuine courageous exploits during the war shows how difficult the process could be. At least Kennedy demonstrated real courage, which is something Manchester did not do.

    • Agree: JMcG
    • Thanks: Johann Ricke
  365. S says:
    @JMcG

    As some others have said, everyone has been doing the comic book thing on military training manuals for some time, probably just to help make the reading of them not quite so dreary.

    Below is a slightly risqué German example from a 1943 tanker’s manual:

    [MORE]

    • Thanks: JMcG
  366. Right_On says:

    Danish-born author Sven Hassel wrote a best-selling series of brutal World War II novels, starting with Legion of the Damned in which the protagonist sees combat in a penal battalion on the Eastern Front. Hassel himself fought for the Wehrmacht during the war, so his books are now banned in Danish public libraries, but have always been very popular in the UK. On paperback editions, the double ‘s’ in Hassel’s name was always printed as the double lightning-flash symbol of the SS. Crude but effective.

  367. @syonredux

    Emmett Till’s G.I. father was hanged in Italy for raping a local woman.

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  368. AceDeuce says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    (By the way, is anybody here familiar enough with Jimmy Carter’s biography to know if he voted in the 1944 election? He was eligible to,

    No he wasn’t. Minimum voting age was 21 back then, and Carter had just turned 20 in November of 1944.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  369. AceDeuce says:
    @James Braxton

    Actually, for raping two local women and murdering a third.

    Give the boy his full credit.

    • Replies: @Right_On
  370. @AceDeuce

    No he wasn’t. Minimum voting age was 21 back then, and Carter had just turned 20 in November of 1944.

    Georgia set her voting age at 18 in 1943, and has never gone back. Carter was eligible in 1944.

    78 years ago today, Georgia lowered voting age to 18

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
    , @Hibernian
  371. AceDeuce says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    If so, wouldn’t that be for state/local–i.e. Georgia elections only? How in TF does one state go rogue in a Federal election like that? If 30 states decided that you only had to be 18 to run for President and voted in Billie Ellish or whatever that freak’s name is, that would be cool?

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  372. @Almost Missouri

    The Japanese authorities probably thought this was because the occupiers wanted to go on a spree, but actually it was because the US command wanted to make it off-limits to the incoming troops.

    One of the great things about living in Japan is how much more the past is reflected in the present. In Okinawa, there is a steakhouse called “88”…
    http://s88.co.jp/english/88kokusai.html
    …that still displays outside its doors its occupation-era license from the US army that made it legal for US troops to eat there.

    (BTW, I don’t know why it’s called “88”, but I am wondering how long it will be before some woke westerners complain about this “fascist” restaurant….)

  373. @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    Yeah, I have Patriotism on DVD because at the time, the only way I could see it was to buy it. But it’s not the kind of thing you re-watch!

  374. @Peter D. Bredon

    The dreamers of the day are dangerous… for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.

    T. E. Lawrence
    The Seven Pillars of Wisdom suppressed introductory chapter (1926).

    Thanks for this intersting quote!

    That said, Ernst Jünger was definitely closer to T. S. Eliot than to T. E. Lawrence.

    Ernst Jünger’s and T. S. Eliot’ basic ideas were at times almost indistinguishable.

    Eliot’s highest achievement for a writer was a sense of fact:

    The sense of fact is something very slow to develop, and its complete development means perhaps the very pinnacle of civilization.

    Jünger about the notes he wrote down during WW I – and the facticity (Jürgen Habermas) of ’em – And How Imortant This Was For Him

    “I would advise anybody who takes part in a war or any other unusual experience for a long period, to keep a consecutive diary, if it be only a succession of jottings which serve later on to give memory its clues. […] They force the writer of them to seize upon the essence of his experiences and to get above – if only for a few minutes a day – the familiar surroundings and to put himself in the position of a spectator. The daily experience will appear in a new light, just as a well-known landscape changes as soon as you try to sketch it. […] It takes more energy than one might think to put a few facts together day by day when it is not a matter of life and death. […] In any case the effort to observe goes with the habit of making notes, and when a man is in a situation like this that only these few years can offer and that can never recur in the same form, he ought to keep his eyes open and try to seize its unique features.”

    Ernst Jünger also described in Wäldchen 125 (Copse 125) his own diary notes from the war in detail:

    “Sometimes the writing is composed and careful and in ink; and I know at once that I was sitting then at my ease in one of those little cottage in Flanders or Northern France, or in a quiet sector in front of my dugout, smoking a pipe and disturbed at worst only by the distant hum of the last scout on his evening patrol of the sky. Then come disjointed and distorted lines in pencil, scrawled by the flicker of a candle in some overcrowded corner of a hellish hole before an attack, or during the endless hours of heavy shelling. Finally, sentences in agitated phrases, illegible, like the wave-lines of a seismograph recording an earthquake, with the ends of the words whipped out into long strokes by the rapidity of the writing – these must have been flung on paper after the attack, in shell-holes or fragments of trench swept by machine-gun bullets like a swarm of deadly hornets.”

  375. Cortes says:
    @68W58

    Thanks. Will check out “Black Ajax”.

    As for being a “great writer”, well, “fluff” like Rabelais, Cervantes and Quevedo still finds new generations of enthusiasts and I suspect that Flashman, McAuslan (and Svejk) will still be popular when many “great writers” are forgotten.

  376. Cortes says:
    @36 ulster

    Maxwell leapt to mind when I read it.

  377. Cortes says:
    @Anonymous

    English novelist David Peace has a Trilogy on Tokyo (the first is “Tokyo: Year Zero”) dealing with the investigation into a serial murderer in the immediate postwar years. I haven’t read the final one, but the others are interesting (to me, at any rate, as impressed by some of his other works, notably “The Damned United”).

  378. @Captain Tripps

    Far be it from me to hinder anyone else’s enjoyment, but I will note my own gradual disillusionment with Mr. Carlin. When he started his Hardcore History podcast however many years ago, Carlin had the apparent aim of bringing history-as-life to his audience, while still painting the larger context (focusing on history’s most violent chapters, of course). When history as a subject—and particularly history that appeals to boys and young men—is being systematically hunted down and destroyed, this is a great service. And he was quite good at elucidating what “real life” was like in historical times without seeming to lecture. This reached its apogee in his End of the Roman Republic series, IMHO. His description of the of ancestor reverence among the Patricians and the bloody purge-or-be-purged logic that overtook those same Patricians in the civil wars particularly stand out in my memory.

    Over time, though, he slowly became more and more voyeuristic in his approach, incrementally dropping the pretense that the show was about history and focusing more and more on his fascination with vicarious suffering. Alongside that Carlin has always had a tendency to bring modern, somewhat politically correct sensibilities to bear on his subjects, or at least on the Western ones, non-Westerners having the peculiar privilege of escaping his tyranny of the present day. There might occasionally be something to learn from these comparisons, for example there was something atavistic about the sudden irruption of Nazi and Soviet military power into world history, but when he grasps the matter back-to-front (“Were the ancient Greeks just as bad as the Nazis?”) he misses that opportunity for the sake of moral grandstanding about how we nowadays have learned moral righteousness.

    He runs a political podcast in parallel with his history podcast, where he poses as a modern day Thomas Paine, but—as far as I could tell—just spouts tediously conventional takes on whatever the mainstream media is reporting. Amusingly, the Trumpening seemed to break his mental model of politics, as he shut that podcast down during the Trump years. Now that a pretense of “normalcy” has been restored (i.e., the usual deeply corrupt grifters are back in full power), I suppose Carlin can return to outriding on the MSM’s bow wave while pretending to be a dissident.

    He’s not terrible, and I still listen to his history stuff, but it is increasingly rare that I learn anything new from him, unless it is the gory details of a torture-killing.

  379. @syonredux

    Of course, the racial aspect regarding rapes committed by US troops in WW2 largely goes undiscussed.

    Yes, I don’t recall that book making any racial distinctions. Apparently race was already a fraught subject in the 1960s.

    A total of 139 soldiers were present at the crime scene – 117 (84%) were black and 22 (16%) were white. The army judged 116 of these soldiers, 94 (81%) black and 22 (19%) white.

    It should surprise modern sensibilities that in the pre-“Civil Rights” 1940s, 100% of the white rape suspects got prosecuted but only 80% of the blacks.

    To our surprise, the US military justice records reveal that the vast majority of soldiers tried for rape in France were not front-line combatants but rather members of logistical support units, that is to say soldiers who were responsible for supplying front-line soldiers with ammunition, food, gas and spare parts.

    To those authors’ surprise perhaps, but not to the surprise of anyone familiar with REMFs. Even the Commies were aware that their tail was worse than their head. When the Red Army was raping its way across Eastern and Central Europe, there were instances where the front line troops would warn civilians whom they bypassed to stay clear of the troops behind them, but in the relief of not being immediately butchered this advice often went unheeded with tragic results.

    1945 Katsuyama killing

    Given the Marine Corps’s “leave no man behind” ethos, one suspects that the Corps must have been aware of what happened to those guys, but they probably thought, Good riddance! No need to spoil things with a timely investigation.

    • Agree: syonredux
  380. Hibernian says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    Wisconsin used to have a drinking age of 18, possibly for beer only. Then, in the late ’60s/early ’70s, other states adopted 18, including for hard liquor, including Iowa where I grew up and went to college. Then later, after I was over 21, Fed Gov pressured all of the states to raise the age to 21, including I believe Wisconsin, although they and some other states may have dragged their feet a bit.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  381. Mr. Grey says:

    His Thin Red Line about Guadalcanal is from 1962.

    James Jones’s book deserves more of a description, it’s very good. The movie by Terrence Malick didn’t come close to the book, so please don’t use that to judge this epic novel of hardcore camping. Every page is brutal and it’s better than any “non-fiction” account of Guadalcanal.

  382. Jack D says:
    @Almost Missouri

    It sounded very dire on the surface.

    No it didn’t, not to me at least. If any of those 52 “rapes” had actually been rape, the girl would have gone to the hospital and called the police immediately and the perp would have been (at least in some cases) arrested and tried and convicted. But not one of them did – this was just a scheme to cash in on consensual sex, years later.

    • Replies: @Johann Ricke
  383. Jack D says:
    @JMcG

    The main problem with the PT boats was that their WWI -technology Mark 8 torpedoes were both defective and ineffective so that they often failed to fire and even when they did they did not sink their targets.

    There were two other PT boats near PT-109. They both tried to fire torpedoes at the Amagiri but true to form the Mark 8’s either failed to fire or else did not hit the target. Both boats then returned to base without searching for survivors from PT-109.

    It was a moonless night and it’s hard to say whether they would have seen the Amagiri if they had been watching but OTOH after the war the Captain of the Amagiri said that he had seen PT-109 and steered for it. PT boats were not very big (80′) so it wouldn’t have required much time for PT-109 to move out of the way even with only 1 engine idling in neutral. They apparently had only 10 seconds warning – even with 30 seconds they probably could have avoided the collision.

    • Replies: @Hibernian
  384. @Jack D

    No it didn’t, not to me at least. If any of those 52 “rapes” had actually been rape, the girl would have gone to the hospital and called the police immediately and the perp would have been (at least in some cases) arrested and tried and convicted. But not one of them did – this was just a scheme to cash in on consensual sex, years later.

    That last sentence just summed up the entire Epstein imbroglio. The “dates” that secured their personal fortunes. They were likely sleeping with others on a non-commercial basis with people in the same age bracket as themselves, but throw over-18’s and a billion-dollar fortune into the mix, and it’s pedophilia. The real pity is the way it was ring-fenced. If Epstein had remained among the living, we might have had some of the mob in the media and big business going after him in dock themselves. Here’s to hoping Maxwell opens up if she gets a substantial sentence.

  385. Hibernian says:
    @Jack D

    …WWI – technology Mark 8 torpedoes…

    Weren’t those the same torpedoes which made our submarines in the Pacific ineffective in the early part of the War? Did the submariners have first priority when a new improved model became available?

    • Replies: @Jack D
  386. Jack D says:
    @Hibernian

    Not quite. The subs also used Bliss-Leavitt torpedoes but slightly different models (shorter and lighter) called the Mark 9 and 10. These were just as shitty.

    They were replaced by the superior 1930’s technology Mark 14, which remained in use until the 1970s.

    The military often fights using decades old technology. Sometimes because these are well proven weapons and other times because the bureaucracy moves so slowly. When the gun turret of the USS Iowa battleship exploded in 1989 the Navy concocted some story about a suicidal gay sailor but others blame the gunpowder bags, which dated from 1943.

  387. @AceDeuce

    If so, wouldn’t that be for state/local–i.e. Georgia elections only? How in TF does one state go rogue in a Federal election like that?

    All elections are state elections. Votes do not cross borders. It doesn’t matter how much voter qualifications differ.

    Look at the 1916 election. Why did California and Illinois outvote equal and much larger states? Why did so many more vote for presidential electors than for governor in Illinois? Answer below.

    State/Districts/Total vote

    Illinois (27) 2,192,707
    New York (43) 1,706,305
    Pennsylvania (36) 1,297,189

    California (11) 999,603
    Wisconsin (11) 447,134
    Kentucky (11) 520,078
    New Jersey (12) 494,442
    Georgia (12) 160,681
    Michigan (13) 650,973
    Indiana (13) 718,848
    Missouri (16) 786,769
    Massachusetts (16) 531,823
    Texas (18) 372,467

    Illinois total vote:

    President 2,192,707
    Governor 1,322,553

    [MORE]

    Women voted for electors in Illinois and for all offices in California.

    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  388. @Hibernian

    …Fed Gov pressured all of the states to raise the age to 21, including I believe Wisconsin, although they and some other states may have dragged their feet a bit.

    By threatening to withhold highway money. Every state, pardon the expression, buckled. What a window to American psychology.

    Wisconsin, New York, Louisiana, and South Dakota were the last holdouts, I believe. Three of those are obvious, but South Dakota, which may have been the most resistant? Huh?

    Perhaps it was the prospect of being treated like Indians that dissuaded them– SD is #2 in that demographic. SD was also the second-to-last state to adopt no-fault divorce, so perhaps they’re just resistant in general. (The very last? New York– over 25 years later.)

  389. AceDeuce says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    I looked around and I guess you’re right. Sorry and thanks.

  390. Right_On says:
    @AceDeuce

    Louis Till was imprisoned alongside American poet Ezra Pound. He gets a brief mention in The Pisan Cantos:

    “Till was hung yesterday
    for murder and rape with trimmings”

  391. Brutusale says:
    @Almost Missouri

    I have no doubt that they happened. I have no doubt that such things are happening on campuses all over America. I have no doubt that they will continue to happen.

    The things that happened 40 years ago at the old fraternity house would have landed all of us in the clink. To think that today, with our even more hyper-sexualized and uber-Negroized colleges, isn’t as bad or worse, is just silly.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  392. @Art Deco

    China and Japan go back 1,500 years and share the same script. Please try a little harder than History Channel factoids.

    On the eve of Pearl Harbor, the only country in SE and South Asia that wasn’t colonized by Western Imperialists was Thailand, which existed as a buffer zone between British and French.

    American occupation of Philippines resulted in at least 200,000 civilian deaths.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine–American_War

    The reason that USS Panay Incident (1937) took place is that there were US gunboats sailing on the Yangtze.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  393. @Pincher Martin

    selling oil to a country we are _not_ at war with creates a “war monster.”

    As oppose to selling oil to a country that you are at war with?

    The Russo-Japanese War was partially spurred by Russian Eastern Expansion and Anglo-Japanese Treaty (1902).

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_invasion_of_Manchuria

    everyone’s surprise already beaten the Russians in 1905

    Not to everyone’s surprise–

    What is perhaps Schiff’s most famous financial action took place during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905).

    Schiff agreed to extend loans to the Empire of Japan in the amount of \$200 million (equivalent to \$4.5 billion in 2019[10]), through Kuhn, Loeb & Co.[5]

    and provided approximately half the funds needed for Japan’s war effort.[11]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Schiff#National_loans

    before it invaded Manchuria.

    As mentioned above, the ROC was ready to use Manchuria, a non-Han Chinese land, as bargaining chip to trade with Japan. These days its been astroturfed by PRC as an “invasion”.

    Many people would scoff at PRC propaganda for everything else but would credulous at everything CPC say about Sino-Japanese relations.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  394. @Jack D

    I admire America’s magnanimity in the rebuilding of Post-War Japan.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  395. JMcG says:
    @Ganderson

    Thanks for reminding me of Robb White. I read those books three or four times each as a boy. They were teriffic.

    • Replies: @Ganderson
  396. Jack D says:
    @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    America is indeed magnanimous but the realities of the Cold War (and especially those of the Korean War) played a major part.

    https://history.state.gov/milestones/1945-1952/korean-war

  397. Jack D says:
    @Brutusale

    To think that today, with our even more hyper-sexualized and uber-Negroized colleges, isn’t as bad or worse, is just silly.

    Surveys have shown that young people now are having less sex than 40 years ago (and in general are more conformist and obedient – it’s just that their conformity takes the shape of being uniformly Woke) . Don’t you think frat boys know that doing this stuff nowadays can in fact land you in the clink (or more realistically, get you expelled and ruin your life prospects)? As it is, every white male is already at the bottom of the resume pile – getting kicked a few more rungs down the ladder with black marks on your record means a lifetime of working at McDonalds.

    • Replies: @Brutusale
  398. @Almost Missouri

    Thanks for this assessment, AM.

    I agree that Carlin has lost some steam, or perhaps his approach loses some of its impact after you’ve listened to the many many hours of content he produces on each of his select topics.

    You’re also right about his fascination with human cruelty.

    I continue to listen to him because I do learn something from nearly all of his podcasts. He’s also always been good at including long quotations from primary sources, memoirs, etc., that I would never otherwise encounter. (On this point, though: one thing I have had enough of is that weird shouty voice Carlin uses when he’s reading quotations. Yes, it helps the listener to immediately identify when it’s not Dan talking, but really . . . .)

    In this latest series, i.e. ‘Supernova in the East’, he’s obviously rehashing the ‘was dropping the bombs on Japan justified or not?’ question, which is another of his obsessions. He does avoid coming out with a real stance on it, but he includes plenty of material that supports a ‘yes’.

    • Agree: Captain Tripps
  399. @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    China and Japan go back 1,500 years and share the same script.

    What does this have to do with anything? The two countries’ histories, languages and cultures are very different, but even if they weren’t different that doesn’t represent a casus belli.

    American occupation of Philippines resulted in at least 200,000 civilian deaths.

    Most of which were due to famine and disease.

    Meanwhile, more than half-a-million Filipinos died as a result of the Japanese occupation, and a far higher percentage of that larger number were gratuitously killed by Japanese soldiers than was the case during the U.S. occupation of the islands after the Spanish-American War.

    Whatever problems locals had with western colonialism, they hated Japanese colonialism far more.

    • Agree: Johann Ricke
    • Replies: @JMcG
    , @nebulafox
  400. @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    As oppose to selling oil to a country that you are at war with?

    Do you even recall what point you were trying to make?

    Trade is quite normal between countries not at war. Trade doesn’t create “war monsters.” Selling oil and scrap iron doesn’t create a war monster. Japan was able to do that all on its own by becoming a caricature of a Western colonial power just as native independence movements around the world were causing the motivations for colonialism to die out.

    The irony is that Japan helped to end Western colonialism in Asia just as Japan’s defeat in war ensured Japanese colonialism would not take its place.

    Not to everyone’s surprise–

    Interesting information on Schiff.

    As mentioned above, the ROC was ready to use Manchuria, a non-Han Chinese land, as bargaining chip to trade with Japan.

    This doesn’t respond to any point I wrote.

  401. @Reg Cæsar

    OT, and just for you, LRC. We were close to your old stomping grounds in 2020, and visited the obelisk at the “tripoint” of Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota.

    Can you guess which state’s capital is the closest to this point?

    I suspect it’s Iowa’s capital, but it’s got to be a close call with St Paul. Pierre is likely farther away. SoDak is a big state.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  402. JMcG says:
    @Pincher Martin

    Thailand was allied to Japan throughout the Pacific War. They declared war on the US not long after Pearl Harbor. There was an outfit called the Indian National Army that fought alongside the Japanese during the war as well. I don’t think it was very large or effective though. I agree that most of the people of Southeast Asia didn’t find the Japanese very congenial, but that wasn’t a universally held opinion.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
    , @68W58
  403. @Almost Missouri

    Do you know of any Japanese memoirs?

    Two good ones by pilots:
    Samurai, by Saburo Sakai
    I Was A Kamikaze, by Ryuji Nagatsuka

    Army life and the war in China:
    Long The Imperial Way, by Hanama Tasaki

    Not too much about the war but fascinating:
    No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War, by Hiroo Onoda

    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
  404. @JMcG

    Thailand was allied to Japan throughout the Pacific War.

    Thailand allied itself with Japan only after IJA troops invaded it. The Thais soon afterwards gained de facto independence over their domestic affairs within their forced alliance and played no important role in the war. The Thais treasured their independence and wanted as little to do with the Japanese as was possible.

    Wherever Japan sent large groups of troops to stay, even in colonies where those troops were initially welcomed because of strong anti-Western views (like the Dutch East Indies and British-controlled Burma), the locals almost invariably turned on them the moment it became propitious to do so.

  405. @The Last Real Calvinist

    Nope. It’s Nebraska’s capital. That’s just under 190 miles from the tripoint. Pierre is approximately 205 mi, St Paul and Des Moines about 195. Yes, it’s a tough question.

    It’s easy to see with Google Earth’s measuring function. Set the tripoint as your first point, and just swing the resulting line around to each city.

    The State Capitol in California is 10 miles closer to Delaware’s than to Hawaii’s. Hawaii’s capital city is closer to those of Queensland, New Zealand, New Guinea, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Canada than to Washington. And to a bunch of Pacific Island countries’.

  406. AceDeuce says:

    Thanks to all involved. These are great. I always learn a lot from them.

    A few things which haven’t been mentioned that someone might find worthwhile:

    I haven’t seen Goodbye To All That mentioned as a seminal WW One memoir. It’s excellent

    Maybe the best American WW One novel was Company K–a best seller in its time ( I think it came out in the late 1920s), but nearly forgotten today. It was written by an excellent writer, William March, who had served as a Marine in WW One. He saw a lot of combat, and was highly decorated for his heroism. He had a solid career as a writer, though he probably deserved more success than he had. He’s most famous as the author of the novel The Bad Seed, which became a famous play and film. As bad fortune would have it, the novel was released just before March died. He never saw the success it achieved.

    • Thanks: Almost Missouri
  407. @syonredux

    She’s great, but people don’t notice her because Casper Van Dien is so much prettier.

  408. @Harry Baldwin

    Thanks. I’ve read Sakai’s Samurai and agree it is a classic memoir. I hadn’t heard of the others and will look them up.

    • Replies: @David In TN
  409. Ganderson says:
    @JMcG

    Reread them- entertaining yarns. If I knew anyone in Hollywood (Steve?) I’d try to pitch The Survivor. I always imagined Gary Lockwood in the role of Adam Land- I’d guess he’s too old now.

    I always wondered if the Marines’ escape from the sunken sub in that book was possible, or even probable.

    • Thanks: JMcG
  410. 68W58 says:
    @JMcG

    Interestingly while the Thais did declare war on the U.S. the Thai ambassador in D.C. apparently refused to deliver the declaration and so the U.S. never considered itself at war with Thailand. Instead Washington made him the leader of a “Free Thailand’ movement and gave him access to Thai government accounts in the U.S. to fund his operations. All of this is according to Wikipedia, but I have to reason to doubt any of it, apparently the ambassador returned home and led the Thai government after the war. They did fight against France, but I can’t hold that against them.

    • Thanks: JMcG
  411. @Almost Missouri

    A.M., I agree that D.C. tends to overly obsess about the “suffering” aspect in his HC History episodes. I did listen to exactly 10 minutes of one episode of his other podcast and came to the same conclusion as you: he’s tediously center-left, absolutely conventional in his situational morality, while pretentiously claiming he’s an independent fence-sitter. But he is really good at conveying his personal enthusiasm about History, which comes through in those HC History episodes; that’s rare, and reminds me of my favorite professor. I’d rank the “Death Throes of the Republic” in the top 2-3 of my favorites of his. Mike Duncan (also a predictable lefty) has a really good podcast series on Rome as well.

  412. Dutch Boy says:
    @Steve Sailer

    All memoirs are a mixture of fact and fiction.

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
  413. Anonymous[214] • Disclaimer says:
    @James J O'Meara

    Mussolini should have stopped Hitler over the Anschluss. Allowing Germany to take control of the Alps was the worst blunder he ever made, worse even than entering WWII. Keeping a weak neutral Austria to Italy’s north was more important than some patches of desert in Africa.

    (I’m sure Indians have similar strategic headaches when they consider the Chinese occupation of Tibet.)

  414. @Dutch Boy

    All memoirs are a mixture of fact and fiction.

    Nabokov wrote in a revised edition to SPEAK MEMORY how “Mnemosyne … has shown herself to be a very careless girl” when describing some of the mistakes he made in the first edition of his memoir that did not hold up to scrutiny.

    But Manchester was not careless. He lied. One can easily understand how one man’s memory of a battle might be more or less dramatic than another man’s, even though both participated in it and even shared the same foxhole. One man might genuinely have feared for his life that day, with all the inherent tension that would later bring to his memory of it, while the other man saw it as just another glorious day in the Corps – no better and no worse than many other days he spent in battle.

    Manchester’s memory, however, did not simply enhance the drama. He invented a heroic past for himself in which he was a highly decorated Marine (with a legendary-sized penis), and then decades later attempted to crudely cover it up with documentation that would not stand up to a journalist’s simple background check.

    • Agree: JMcG
  415. Brutusale says:
    @Jack D

    Maybe with the modern “male” being so low T, while young women are all butt-kicking babes, that all the action is at the sorority houses!

    My uni didn’t allow fraternities on campus while I was there. My best friend was attending a nearby school (“little” ivy), and a lot of my party time was spent there. Every year a new supply of 18-year old freshman girls arrived, all brainiacs with excellent GPAs and test scores but little schooled in the more practical social interactions. They group up with others of their ilk; hey, look, a fraternity party! Alcohol and 18-year olds make for a volatile mix. Now maybe the form and function of the modern young genitals are different today, but I don’t see the rules guiding their actions any more than it did when I was in school. According to my nephews, it’s not.

    The Baylor story is even more indefensible. Is there a group given more explicit license to rape and pillage any more than black male athletes?

  416. Yngvar says:
    @Peter D. Bredon

    The same [puritan] mentality that persecuted Hester Prynne now promotes transwomen.

    Ms Prynne is a fictional character.

  417. @Bardon Kaldian

    Perhaps that is why the USAAF is overrepresented in quality WW2 authors. There is a natural drama to their war experience– survive thirty missions. In the meantime, they had ample free time and money relative to other allied soldiers. And they generally knew when the next raid was going to be, at least roughly. So there is thus mounting tension as the day gets closer, and then during the raid itself when they Marshall up and start heading into Indian country.

    Compare that to the dearth of fiction by axis pilots or naval aviators in the USA. In their operations, combat could happen at any time, and there wasn’t that psychic gap between up time and downtime.

    Interestingly that trend reverses in Vietnam, where naval aviators started writing more fiction. Possibly because there was no realistic threat to the carriers so all flights were offensive and not reactionary, creating that psychic gap again. Also they adopted the “alpha strike” doctrine of massed raids, like the USAAF before them, while the USAF was moving to smaller strike packages. I think Vietnam produced better fiction from the infantry perspective, probably because most Vietnam Era infantry authors had been in serious combat, unlike many Ww2 authors. I read once that a WW2 grunt on average only had 40 days of high intensity combat in an average of a 2 year hitch, where Vietnam infantry had 65 days of high intensity combat in their year long rotations.

    Although they didn’t write WW2 novels, two combat vets I really enjoyed the work of art Charles Portis (true grit) and Jack Vance (dying earth, 2nd grandmaster of SF). Portis was a marine, but might have been in Korea I can’t remember. Vance was a merchant mariner who survived having his oil tanker torpedoed out from under him, which involves beating some pretty long odds.

  418. @JMcG

    I think the PT boats were sort of an early war weapon that was kept active for too long and in too great of numbers. It was also sort of a specialist group that never had a chance of matching the destructive power of subs or fast carrier groups. Compared to the BBs, or even CAs, I think they hold up well.

    MTB2 definitely outperformed around Savo, inflicting thousands of KIA on the Tokyo Express rat transports at a time when “Big Navy” could not risk a real decisive battle with her limited remaining blue water assets. And while thw country would have probably been better served by allowing MacArthur to get a close haircut from a Katana, it was PT boats that got him out in the Allied version of the whole Mussolini/werewolf type rescue mission. I would love to see “They Were Expendable” remade with a new script today. John Fords version doesn’t hold up, but it is a pitch-perfect premise for an action movie not involving men in spandex costumes

    • Thanks: JMcG
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  419. @GeologyAnonMk4

    Would PT boats have been more effective with a better torpedo than the lousy one that the US had in 1942?

    • Replies: @JMcG
    , @GeologyAnonMk4
  420. JMcG says:
    @Steve Sailer

    PTs were plywood boats with 3000 gallons of high octane avgas as fuel. They had some limited success against supply barges in the Solomons and New Guinea. Their claims, through no fault of their own, were often exaggerated, just as with airplanes.
    The torpedoes that the PT boats used were not as bad as the Mark 14s that crippled early war submarine operations. They had a small warhead, but their detonators worked fairly well.
    With 100% hindsight, I doubt they had any substantial effect on the war.

    • Agree: GeologyAnonMk4
  421. @Steve Sailer

    I doubt it. The PT boat ran into the problem that battleships did: aircraft were just flat out better for the intended role. A PT boat with a RATO assisted BAT type glide bomb might have been able to make some magic happen, like an early attempt at a Pegasus or Boghammer type vessel, but that’s getting deep into alternate history. Outside of subs, torpedoes just kinda underperformed in general. Their best surface warfare use IMO was as an ordnance option on DDs and DEs that gave them a “stay back” type defensive and maneuver control weapon against cruisers and battleships. The Japanese destroyers used their long Lance torpedoes quite effectively in an offensive surface manner around The Slot, but that was an exception to the rule, it seems. You can almost build a B-24 for the same resource investment as a single PT boat, or 2 Catalinas. Both would have done a lot more shipping damage in most cases, with the Cat also being able to do the other main function of PT boats: downed aviator recovery

    If anything though the Kreigsmarine got screwed a lot harder by defective torpedoes than the US Navy, given they hit 2 BBs and a CV with Churchill on board with torpedoes that turned out to be duds.

    • Replies: @JMcG
  422. Keypusher says:
    @Nicholas Stix

    Kathryn Bigelow, director of the Hurt Locker, did a movie from the book fairly recently. It flopped. Too bad for her she didn’t wait until the Post-Floyd era.

  423. Keypusher says:

    Despatches by Michael Herr is a good Vietnam book.

  424. @Captain Tripps

    I listened to Duncan’s Rome series, but barely made it through to the end. Something about his style doesn’t quite connect with me. Have you listened to any of his Revolutions series? Some of the topics interest me, but I’m not sure it’s worth having another go.

    I enjoy the Tides of History podcast; it’s generally apolitical, although again the host, Patrick Wyman, again seems to be a boring semi-woke lefty when he’s focused on our current century.

    Stylistically, I really like David Crowther’s History of England podcast — he’s erudite but witty in a way Mike Duncan can only dream about — but he’s become so micro-focused that it seems he barely makes progress episode by episode. He was deeply mired in the Elizabethan era the last time I listened.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
  425. nebulafox says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    Have you tried Darryl Cooper’s Martyrmade stuff? His Israel-Palestine series is incredible, if lengthy. I learned about him through Jocko Willink, the Navy SEAL BJJ dude. He’s got a pretty based substack, too: especially his post about Rittenhouse.

    I’m about to go through a week where between intense session at work and personal events, I won’t have the ability to read books or do problems/projects much, so I’m about to do the Jim Jones series to have something to look forward to. Oh boy.

  426. nebulafox says:
    @Pincher Martin

    What America did in the Philippines at the turn of the century is an undeniably dark chapter in our history, the quintessential turn away from republic to empire, and I’m not going to make excuses for it.

    But it absolutely, totally pales in comparison to the IJA’s rampage through Manila in 1945. They knew they were doomed and, much like Okinawa a few months later, took out their frustrations on the local civilians who they still held life-and-death power over. In many senses, Manila as a city (second only to Warsaw-which was intentionally wiped from the map-in urban destruction in WWII) has never truly recovered from 1945. It used to be the Pearl of the Orient, hard as that might be to believe for those familiar with the modern city.

    (To get an idea of how bad it was: people always point to Nanjing, but after looking at the death tolls and stories, Manila probably was even worse, and unlike with the modern Chinese government, there’s no political coloration or agenda over the memory of this atrocity for the Filipinos. I’m not going to post specifics here, you can look them up… it’s X-rated stuff, NSFW.)

    • Replies: @nebulafox
    , @Pincher Martin
  427. nebulafox says:
    @nebulafox

    Also, I might add with the insurgency: we had particular trouble with the Moro Muslims in Mindanao. Insofar as the conflict is remembered at all, probably the most intense theater is forgotten. The Spanish had to deal with Moro insurgencies before us. The Japanese would after. And it’s something that the Philippines post-independence has dealt with… ever since.

    Thoroughly nasty crew. Think hybrid between Islamists and old fashioned land pirates.

  428. JMcG says:
    @GeologyAnonMk4

    That’s a very interesting cost/benefit analysis. It’s rare to think of things that way, but useful. You are clearly much more knowledgeable about the naval aspect of the war than I. I’d never heard of the incident with Churchill and the dud torpedo before- could you elucidate further on that? Thank you.

  429. @nebulafox

    Yes, what happened to Manila near the end of WW2 was awful That was easily the worst urban warfare in the Asia-Pacific theater, and probably a prelude of what the U.S. military could’ve expected if it invaded Japan (minus the rapes and mass killings of civilian women).

  430. @Almost Missouri

    Sakai’s book was the work of American aviation author Martin Caidin and a Japanese journalist.

    I read in when in college, a good read if nothing else.

  431. @nebulafox

    Thanks for the recommendation.

    I’m giving Martyrmade a try; I’ve started on the I-P series, and have listened to most of the first episode. It’s easy to pick up some Dan Carlin influence in the conversational, ‘just think about what you would do!’ approach Cooper takes, along with the horrific, violent scenario he word paints to kick the whole thing off. As with Carlin, though, I’ve already learned quite a few things I didn’t know before. So far, so good.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
  432. nebulafox says:
    @The Last Real Calvinist

    Got to be honest, I never thought I’d have the attention span for this.

    Also recommend the episode on Communism. He’s savage. And toward the end, he brings up Yugoslavia at the end of WWII, something I never thought would happen. The foreshadowing of what would happen 50 years later was already there.

    (It amuses me when I hear lefty types claim that Communism could have saved people from ethnic hatred. It was just another participant in it! An obnoxiously holier than thou one at that, too.)

  433. @Pincher Martin

    This is not meant as disrespect to the individual American soldiers who fought with honor and altruistic intentions to save Asia.

    But it’s a massive understatement to say the US government was merely trading with Japan. My original assertion was based on this–

    Japan by itself had scant and meager resources and could not have prosecuted war against China or dreamed of empire without massive imports.[138] The Dutch East Indies, the British Empire and United States of America were the top exporters of war supplies for Japan’s military against China in 1937, with 7.4% from the Dutch, 17.5% from the British and 54.4% from the United States of America.

    Maxwell S. Stewart, a former Foreign Policy Association research staff and economist who charged that America’s Neutrality Act and its “neutrality policy” was a massive farce which only benefited Japan and that Japan did not have the capability nor could ever have invaded China without the massive amount of raw material America exported to Japan. America exported far more raw material to Japan than to China in the years 1937–1940.

    War essentials exports from the United States to Japan increased by 124% along with a general increase of 41% of all exports from 1936 to 1937 when Japan invaded China. Japan’s war economy was fueled by exports to the United States at over twice the rate immediately preceding the war.

    The US contributed massively to the Japanese war economy in 1937 with 20.4% of zinc, 48.5% of engines and machinery, 59.7% of iron, 41.6% of pig iron, 60.5% of oil, 91.2% of automobiles and parts, 92.9% of copper of Japan were imported from the U.S.

    During the Japanese war against China, 54.4% of Japan’s weapons and supplies were provided by Americans. 76% of Japanese planes came from the US in 1938, and all lubricating oil, machine tools, special steel, high-test aircraft petrol came from the US, as did 59.7% of Japan’s scrap iron and 60.5% of Japan’s petrol in 1937.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Sino-Japanese_War#Western_allies

    • Replies: @Pincher Martin
    , @JMcG
  434. @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    You are not making a coherent argument.

    You originally claimed that the U.S. created a “war monster” in Japan by trading with it. But the source you provide merely argued in 1939 that Japan could not have invaded China in 1937 without American trade, a dubious proportion given that Japan had already been in Korea and Taiwan for decades and invaded Manchuria in 1931. The Japanese “War Monster” was already well established by 1937.

    The problem you are not seeing is that unless the U.S. was at war with a country, trade was considered a private affair of U.S. companies. The only exception to that rule was for the sale of arms and (in the case of Japan, specifically) civilian aircraft. If U.S. oil companies, for example, wanted to sell oil to Japan’s navy, they were entitled to do so. If U.S. steel companies wanted to sell scrap to Japan, they were entitled to do so. As long as willing foreign buyers found willing American sellers, it was not considered the business of the U.S. government at the time to control trade – again, so long as weapons were not considered part of the bargain.

    This held up to the oil embargo of July 1941. But by that time Japan’s military had already decided to go to war with the U.S.

    BTW, your 1939 source is wrong about America’s neutrality policy in regards to Japan. Roosevelt never invoked it for the Sino-Japanese War. He claimed, somewhat cagily, that neither side had actually declared war. This allowed Roosevelt to transport U.S. arms on British ships to support China.

  435. JMcG says:
    @China Japan and Korea Bromance of Three Kingdoms

    McMeekin’s recent book, Stalin’s War, states that US Avgas shipments to the eastern Soviet port of Vladivostok during the war were diverted to Japan by the Soviets for payment in kind. So, if true, we were supplying Japanese fighters with the fuel they required to hunt our B-29s.

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