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Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II (Modern War Studies) [Hardcover]

James Tobin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 Jun 1997 0684836424 978-0684836423 1st Free Press Trade Pbk. Ed
When a machine-gun bullet ended the life of war correspondent Ernie Pyle in the final days of World War II, Americans mourned him in the same breath as they mourned Franklin Roosevelt. To millions, the loss of this American folk hero seemed nearly as great as the loss of the wartime president.

If the hidden horrors and valor of combat persist at all in the public mind, it is because of those writers who watched it and recorded it in the faith that war is too important to be confined to the private memories of the warriors. Above all these writers, Ernie Pyle towered as a giant. Through his words and his compassion, Americans everywhere gleaned their understanding of what they came to call "The Good War".

Pyle walked a troubled path to fame. Though insecure and anxious, he created a carefree and kindly public image in his popular prewar column-- all the while struggling with inner demons and a tortured marriage. War, in fact, offered Pyle an escape hatch from his own personal hell.

It also offered him a subject precisely suited to his talent-- a shrewd understanding of human nature, an unmatched eye for detail, a profound capacity to identify with the suffering soldiers whom he adopted as his own, and a plain yet poetic style reminiscent of Mark Twain and Will Rogers. These he brought to bear on the Battle of Britain and all the great American campaigns of the war-- North Africa, Sicily, Italy, D-Day and Normandy, the liberation of Paris, and finally Okinawa, where he felt compelled to go because of his enormous public stature despite premonitions of death.

In this immensely engrossing biography, affectionate yet critical, journalist and historian James Tobin does an Ernie Pyle job on Ernie Pyle, evoking perfectly the life and labors of this strange, frail, bald little man whose love/hate relationship to war mirrors our own. Based on dozens of interviews and copious research in little-known archives, "Ernie Pyle's War" is a self-effacing tour de force. To read it is to know Ernie Pyle, and most of all, to know his war.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Free Press Trade Pbk. Ed edition (23 Jun 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684836424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684836423
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 16.3 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,598,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"James Tobin's magnificent new biography of Pyle should do much to renew the luster of his name and revive interest in his extraordinary work. . . . This clear-eyed, unsentimental, beautifully written biography is a classic worthy of the man it celebrates." -- "The Cleveland Plain Dealer" --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

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First Sentence
summertime. . . ." he wrote in his column. "To me [it] is one of the most melancholy things in all life. Read the first page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I strongly urge reading James Tobin, Ernie Pyle's War for entertainment, reflection, and inspiration. Tobin is a rare combination--a successful journalist who holds a Ph.D. in history. Tobin brought these streams together to tell a compelling personal-interest story with insights into the nature of combat documentation, as well as into the political and economic dynamics of the news.
In telling a compelling personal story, Tobin raises issues that should make this book mandatory reading for any who intend to practice the art of capturing and conveying military operations. There are the personal aspects that established Pyle's unique approach to covering this subject it, made him seek it, and kept him at it until it ultimately cost his life. There is the tense balance between capturing what the observer actually sees and conveying what is acceptable to varous others who will filter whatever the observer sets down. There is the dynamic among the actors, the observer, the personal and institutional interests of those in charge, and the desire of those at home to have both information and assurance. Finally there are the personal costs and rewards of this kind of work.
The dilemmas that Pyle faced, in varying degrees, confront anyone working in any medium, place, or time. Again varying by the conditions, Pyle's reactions are similarly general. Perhaps the most telling episode is the brief collaboration between Arthur Miller and Ernie Pyle about a Hollywood movie: Miller driven to invest events with overarching significance and Pyle reluctant to impose elements that the moments utterly lacked.
Tobin's work seems worthy of his subject.
J. W. Williams, former historian, Implementation Force (IFOR), Bosnia
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
James Tobin's masterful biography of Ernie Pyle will remind older readers of the skill of Pyle, an excellent journalist and poetic writer whose newspaper columns from the front lines of World War II were universally read. For younger readers, it's a chance to discover one of the century's great media stars, now almost forgotten. Pyle's life story is complicated, and well told by Tobin. Pyle's continued determination to cover the war with the average GIs at the front led to his death in battle in 1945. But his writing is timeless. Tobin has done us all a service by resurrecting the story of Pyle, and bringing Pyle's columns back for another generation to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compassionate, compelling, masterfully crafted 19 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Aside from the subject, which is covered with a journalist's thoroughness and an historian's scope, the writing is tender and evocative. I am a fiction reader normally, but I have found in this book an author wielding a gratifying touch with language. Ernie Pyle would admire this thoughtful student of his career. A wonderful read for anyone who wishes to remember WWII, great men, daring times and relish the rise of the common man, presented here in an uncommon manner.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it for your dad 10 Jan 1998
By A Customer
Two words: great book! Buy this for your favorite veteran!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This splendid book was a gift to my husband on Father's Day. We both have read it from cover to cover and have highly recommended it to our friends.
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