Academic journal article Naval War College Review

Typewriter Battalion: Dramatic Frontline Dispatches from World War II

Academic journal article Naval War College Review

Typewriter Battalion: Dramatic Frontline Dispatches from World War II

Article excerpt

Stenbuck,Jack, ed. Typewriter Battalion: Dramatic Frontline Dispatches from World War II. New York: William Morrow,1995. 397pp. $23

It has become fashionable to republish World War II correspondence by famous reporters. Typewriter Battalion is another of these collected essays. In times when media-military relations often spell controversy, these collections remind us that relative harmony once prevailed between the pen and the sword.

This book includes some great war correspondence. The editor has selected breathtaking reports, including E.Z. Dimitman's (Chicago Sun) account of the visit by Germans to the Dachau concentration camp and their appalled reaction to the horrible activity that had taken place on their doorstep;Joseph C. Harsch's (Christian Science Monitor) surreal description of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; several gripping articles on the Italy campaign; and WH. Lawrence's (New York Times) precise but unemotional description of the Nagasaki atomic bombing mission.

Despite these gems, the overall book is disappointing. First, the front-line dispatches tell the same story over and over again-of people under fire, courage and glory, heroism and cowardice, horror and fear. Typical of this coverage is Walter Cronkite's piece about a bombing mission over Germany: "It was a hell 26,000 feet above the earth, a hell of burning tracer bullets and bursting flaks, of crippled flying fortresses and flaming German fighter planes. …

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