Winner of both the National Book Award for Arts and Letters and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, Paul Fussell's classic The Great War and Modern Memory remains one of the most original and gripping volumes ever written about the First World War. In its panoramic scope and poetic intensity, it illuminated a war that changed a generation and revolutionized the way we see the world.
Now, in Wartime, Paul Fussell turns to the Second World War, the conflict in which he himself fought, to weave a more intensely personal and wide-ranging narrative. Whereas his former book focused primarily on literary figures, here Fussell examines the immediate impact of the war on soldiers and civilians. He compellingly depicts the psychological and emotional atmosphere of World War II by analyzing the wishful thinking and the euphemisms people needed to deal with unacceptable reality; by describing the abnormally intense frustration of desire and some of the means by which desire was satisfied; and, most importantly, by emphasizing the damage the war did to intellect, discrimination, honesty, individuality, complexity, ambiguity, and wit.
Of course, no book of Fussell's would be complete without serious attention to the literature of the time. He offers astute commentary on Edmund Wilson's argument with Archibald MacLeish, Cyril Connolly's Horizon magazine, the war poetry of Randall Jarrell and Louis Simpson, and many other aspects of the wartime literary world. In this stunning volume, Fussell conveys the essence of that war as no other writer before him has.
"Paul Fussell has written the best book I know of about World War I. Now he has written the best book I know of about the Second World War. No novel I've read surpasses its depiction of the awful human cost to all sides of modern warfare. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say it is unforgettable."--Joseph Heller
"This brilliant, engaging cultural history quietly subverts our whitewashed collective memory of the war."--Publishers Weekly
"Fussell is a wonderful writer--at once elegant and earthy. He gives us much to ponder in this volume, and...considerable pleasure."--The Washington Post Book World
"An excellent study. Compliments the great War and Modern Memory. Will use again!"--Kirk Bunte, Mesa State College
"Different, distinctive, valuable - I've already adopted it for this semester."--Professor John R.M. Wilson, Southern California College