"He could perceive himself as
a very wee thing."
My major indebtednesses are three. First, to Jack Finefrock: without his friendly, shrewd, generous, and persistent prodding, and without his astonishing expertise in all things having to do with publishing, this would yet remain in the electronic tomb in which it had been immured for a dozen years. Second, to my father, Lucian Lentz: a B-26 pilot in the Eighth Air Force, he spent twenty months as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft III. Far from being alienated from the subject of war, he was fascinated. I grew up beneath Lee's Lieutenants and the green-bound histories of the operations of the U.S. Army during World War II. In the cool Alabama mornings of my childhood, while my father shaved and prepared to go to the mill, the two of us conversed about history. What was the derivation of the name "black and tans"? "The black of Irishmen's business suits," my father said, imaginatively, "and the tan of British soldiers' uniforms." Makes sense, doesn't it? Third, to those generations of Kenyon students who have studied American literature with me: their intelligence, their ability, their patience, their responsiveness, their papers, tests, and recitations—it was mostly through my long engagement with these students that I fully came to understand that the more deeply we trusted that Stephen Crane knew his history, the more deeply his novel repaid our attention.
I am further indebted to people who have contributed to the spirit, shape, reliability, and texture of this book. Tim Shutt gave it its first close reading, and