Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War

By Paul Fussell | Go to book overview

first to deliver news about the war that was notably less than cheerful. His account does full justice to the inescapable horrors, and in a final chapter he deals with the problem of the American innocence that has kept such truths about the war pleasantly obscure for so long. Deep deficiency of imagination--that has been the cause of the home-front shock. Like the boys they educated, says Sherrod, "the people had not thought of war in terms of men being killed. . . ." Tarawa has finally made clear one terrible truth: "There is no easy way to win a war; there is no panacea which will prevent men from being killed."28


2
"Precision Bombing Will Win the War"

A panacea was the natural thing for the audience at home to believe in, since for years it had been lulled into comfort by the conviction that the war could be won by shrewd Yankee technological expedients, like, for example, bombing from costly airplanes flying at safe altitudes. This misapprehension had been in large part promoted by the American government itself. Witness a popular official pamphlet designating the bomber as The Weapon of Ultimate Victory. It bears no date, but its insisting that "America cannot lose this war!" suggests the end of 1942, when the issue seemed rather in doubt. The weapon of ultimate victory is specifically the B-17 Flying Fortress, "the mightiest bomber ever built." It is a precision instrument, "equipped with the incredibly accurate Norden bomb sight, which hits a 25-foot circle from 20,000 feet." And the safety of the crew is strongly stressed. One picture caption reads: "Safe within the strong fuselage of his bomber, this master-gunner aims his heavy [50-caliber] weapon." It is as if no such thing as flak had been invented. (During

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Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Other Books by Paul Fussell *
  • Title Page iii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • 1: From Light to Heavy Duty 3
  • 2: "Precision Bombing Will Win the War" 13
  • 3: Someone Had Blundered 19
  • 4 - Rumors of Wa 35
  • 5 - School of the Soldier 52
  • 6 - Unread Books on a Shelf 66
  • 7 - Chickenshit, an Anatomy 79
  • 8 - Drinking Far Too Much, Copulating Too Little 96
  • 9 - Type-Casting 115
  • 10: The Ideological Vacuum 129
  • 11: Accentuate the Positive 143
  • 12: High-mindedness 164
  • 13: With One Voice 180
  • 14 - Deprivation 195
  • 15 - Compensation 207
  • 16 - Reading in Wartime 228
  • 17 - Fresh Idiom 251
  • 18: The Real War Will Never Get in the Books" 267
  • Notes 299
  • Index 321
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