Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War

By Paul Fussell | Go to book overview

on atomic fission, for example, or the Ultra project involving the breaking of the German military-operations code, or the decoding of Japanese naval signals, or the work of the civilian coast-watchers in the South Pacific. Because these fascinating actualities could not be mentioned until well after the war was won, what was projected to the contemporary audience almost had to be fictional, an image of pseudo-war and psuedo- human-behavior not too distant from the familiar world of magazine advertising and improving popular fiction.

The postwar power of "the media" to determine what shall be embraced as reality is in large part due to the success of the morale culture in wartime. It represents, indeed, its continuation. Today, nothing--neither church, university, library, gallery, philanthropy, foundation, or corporation--no matter how actually worthy and blameless, can thrive unless bolstered by a persuasive professional public-relations operation, supervised by the later avatars of the PR colonels and captains so indispensable to the maintenance of high morale and thus to the conduct of the Second World War.


12
High-mindedness

The China Hoax could probably not have been worked so successfully at any other time, for it required a unique context of public credulity and idealism. If elementary logic--the only kind wartime could accommodate--required the enemy to be totally evil, it required the Allies to be totally good--all of them. The opposition between this black and this white was clear and uncomplicated, untroubled by subtlety or nuance, let alone irony or skepticism. Paul Addison is right to note that "the war served a generation of Britons and Americans as a myth which enshrined their essential purity, a parable of good and evil."1 In the absence of

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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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