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Doing Battle: The Making of a Skeptic [Paperback]

Paul Fussell
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
RRP: 17.99
Price: 16.46 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

7 Jan 1998
Hailed by critics and readers across the country for its wit, irreverence, and unflinching honesty, Doing Battle illuminates the events and experiences that changed not only Paul Fussell but his entire generation.

Plucked from the pastoral middle-class sanctuary of Pasadena, where he grew up, twenty-year-old Fussell battle in southeastern France. While recovering from serious wounds he suffered in combat, Fussell vowed never to take orders again. His book makes clear how this newly subversive sensibility came to color all his later years -- as a Harvard Ph.D. student, as a professor of literature, and as a cultural commentator and author of such abidingly relevant books as Thank God for the Atom Bomb, Class. Wartime, and The Great War and Modern Memory.

Doing Battle is at once a summing-up of one man's life and a profoundly thoughtful portrait of America's own search for identity in the second half of this century.


Frequently Bought Together

Doing Battle: The Making of a Skeptic + Abroad: British Literary Traveling Between the Wars + Wartime: Understanding and Behaviour in the Second World War
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Product details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1st Back Bay Pbk. Ed edition (7 Jan 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316290610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316290616
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 344,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
ALSACE, THE GERMANIZED eastern province of France with boarders on Germany and Switzerland, has a few large cities like Strasbourg, Nancy, and Colmar, but for the most part it is a land of farms and small towns, a poor place, where in 1944 and 1945 the inhabitants (most of dubious loyalty to the Allied cause) eked out a hard living in picturesque but primitive houses and barns, set in the midst of steaming manure piles. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Fussell's work is searingly honest and forthright. He treats war as the unrelieved hell it is, not from the position of those who favor war, or those who are opposed to it, but from those who are on the ground doing the fighting and the dying.And more than this, his book also addresses the corrosive influences of money, advertising, and authoritarianism that has replaced critical thought and learning in this country. We have become the Faustian culture that we were warned about half a century ago---the culture that replaces all its values of honesty, integrity, achievement, learning, for material gain that eats away at the foundations of culture. And yet we will survive; for like the lonely priests who in the year 1100 kept the ancient world alive in remote places like Ireland and Spain, thinkers and writers like Fussell are preserving culture and ideals against the onslaught of modern day Visigoths who have decamped in the courtyard. A singular achievement that is moving and provocative. Only ninnies at the Kirkus Review would be bothered by such blatant honesty.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not fun, but profoundly moving 26 Dec 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I'm not a literary person, I can't spell well, and I am not an infantryman. I was in the Army during the Viet Nam war, and I have a broad range on interests. I didn't choose this book, it was a gift. But it is one of the most moving books I have ever read.
Fussell is a critic, and he indirectly claims that his experiences in WWII were "the making of a skeptic" - and maybe it was. It is fantastic to see him skewer all forms of phoneyness and cover-up - including his own. You also get the impression that he is an uncompromising and very interesting character - but not fun or easy to get along with.
A real career combat infantryman I know had glanced at the book and claimed that Fussell just didn't understand Sherman's quote, "War is hell" and whined too much. I agreed that there was some truth to the criticism, but I got him to read the whole thing. His opinion changed dramatically for the better.
O.K., it is pretty much negative, but you can see underneath all that, he loves life, infantrymen, and people who try their very best and have honor. One of the few heros in the book is Gen. Eisenhower - but he is critical of President Eisenhower. It's a complex book, and he's a complex man. Get a glimpse inside him by reading this book.
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By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
for anyone who ever experienced ground combat,regardless of conflict,this memoir by one of our most highly respected literary scholars,stands as the ultimate tribute.more than a book,it is an instructional text on how a sane and rational man who has experienced the absolute horror of armed conflict from the viewpoint of the infantry soldier,may maintain some semblance of sanity in an insane world. those of us who share that part of his backround,owe an unpayable debt to him. in a way,he has become what one of his subjects was in his earlier'the great war and modern memory'. it was wilfred owen,poet/soldier who gave us our warnings,paul fussel has done the same and we still don't quite get it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant Memoir 23 Nov 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A beautifully written and (seemingly) painfully honest account of how a very young rather nice young man never really got over the trauma of being wounded and seeing friends killed in World War 2.

A good half of the book is taken up with Paul's life from birth to 21 years old, which covers his military service. His subsequent academic career was glittering, but compared to the drama and horror of the first part of the book is bound to be something of an anti-climax.

None the less this is an excellent memoir by a highly cultured, highly civilized man.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very cranky - and very thought provoking. 22 May 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Professor Fussell's book appears to have been heavily influenced by Robert Graves' "Goodbye to All That" - and it doesn't suffer much by comparison. A well-written, thoughtful account of his early years and how his WWII experiences shaped the man he is today.
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