Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War

By Paul Fussell | Go to book overview

Organization [Fritz] Todt and later its Speer Construction Staff. And the U.S. Marines came up with units named Carlson's and Edson's and Roosevelt's Raiders.

If such usages were mild forms of what the troops' fresh idiom was protesting, more severe forms were to be met with on public celebratory occasions. On July 21, 1945, Churchill dedicated a soldiers' club in Berlin to be used by the remnants and replacements of the 7th Armored Division, the Desert Rats. In his speech, he raised his voice and said to the listening troops, "May the fathers long tell the children about this tale! May your glory ever shine! May your laurels never fade! May the memory of this glorious pilgrimage of war never die!"9 If (despite the exclamation marks) that exemplifies stale idiom, as well as illustrating a notable aborted hope and failed prophecy, other official utterances equally illustrate what happens when fresh idiom is not to be found. Disaster is especially likely when a speaker unaccustomed to the hazards of such an operation essays telling metaphors. Are Yanks more likely to disgrace themselves here than the British? One might think so encountering MacArthur's thirsty ear: "I listen vainly," he tells the West Point cadets in his farewell speech to them, "I listen vainly, but with thirsty ear, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille. . . ."10 The troops may have talked and sung dirty, but they never uttered anything as offensive as that.


18
"The Real War Will Never Get in the Books"

What was it about the war that moved the troops to constant verbal subversion and contempt? It was not just the danger and fear, the boredom and uncertainty and loneliness and deprivation. It was rather 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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