Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War

By Paul Fussell | Go to book overview

mankind to share the benefits of a simplified and literal-minded Anglo- American (but mostly American) understanding, there was at least Robert Frost around to designate Basic English "Basic Balls."47 The proletarian James Jones, speaking in 1952, sensed the need for some antidote to the continuing postwar high-mindedness. Acknowledging his National Book Award, he paraphrased his editor Maxwell Perkins and said: "The only thing wrong with literature in our time is that it lacks . . . malice, envy, and hate. . . . This fear of rascality in our writers is unwittingly turning them into moralists."48 Which is to say that the mood of wartime survived the war, at least until Vonnegut, Heller, and Pynchon succeeded in proposing an attractive alternative.


13
With One Voice

Because in wartime the various outlets of popular culture behaved almost entirely as if they were the creatures of their governments, it is hardly surprising to find that they spoke with one voice. Together with skepticism, irony, and doubt, an early casualty was a wide variety of views about current events. Radio, popular music, films, and magazines (whose essence reduced largely to their advertisements) conveyed the same sanguine message about the war as the singing commercial of the period delivered about housewifely chores:

Rinso white! Rinso white!
Happy little washday song.

In a way not easy to imagine in the present world of visual journalism, the war was mediated and authenticated by spoken language, whose con

-180-

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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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