Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War

By Paul Fussell | Go to book overview

bels, and Doenitz hoped that some similar miracle would save Germany. The unexpected death of Roosevelt in April, 1945, seemed the very miracle required, and for a few hours there was joy at Hitler's headquarters. The main work triggering this hope was Carlyle History of Frederick the Great, as well as Frederick's letters and the records of his conversations, which the Nazis studied enthusiastically, and not merely in hope of the miracle. Frederick's military career demonstrated, they thought, the value of "will"--spirit, morale, and sheer belief in victory, despite evidence of its unlikelihood. This devotion to Carlyle's version of things might seem to imply some small respect for literature, but more indicative of the German wartime conception of letters would be Hitler and Speer's elaborate plans for the ultimate reconstruction of Berlin, which made no provision for a library. The new main avenue was to be furnished with cinemas, opera houses, concert halls, buildings for congresses and conferences, hotels, restaurants and indoor swimming pools, but was quite innocent of bookshops.


17
Fresh Idiom

Disappointment threatens anyone searching in published wartime writing for a use of language that could be called literary--that is, pointed, illuminating, witty, ironic, clever, or interesting. What one finds, rather, is the gush, waffle, and cliché occasioned by high-mindedness, the impulse to sound portentous, and the slumbering of the critical spirit. Here is James Truslow Adams commenting on his essay "The American Dream," which he has selected to represent him in Whit Burnett This Is My Best:

Our type of civilization, the American way of life, the American dream are all at stake. I cannot go into details of prophecy here, and the

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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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