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Wartime: Understanding and Behaviour in the Second World War [Hardcover]

Paul Fussell , Fussell
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: 21.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Jan 1989
The Second World War has been romanticized almost beyond recognition by 'the sentimental, the loony patriotic, the ignorant, and the bloodthirsty.' In this readable and penetrating study, Paul Fussell goes behind the familiar diplomacy and heroics of history to examine the blunders, petty tyrannies, inconveniences, and deprivations that are many British and American people's memory of the War. There are lively sections on the role of drinking, tobacco, and sex in the war and on the home front; on propaganda; about writers and magazines who recorded the war or who attempted to keep aloft literary standards in a difficult time; on wartime slang and graphic recollections of the nightmare of combat. Written with a keen intelligence and deep emotion, Wartime is a worthy companion to Fussell's The Great War And Modern Memory , which won an American National Book Award and the National Critics Circle prize.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st Edition edition (1 Jan 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195037979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195037975
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 16.2 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 373,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'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's unforgettable.' Joseph Heller 'Professor Fussell has written a riveting book. Many have recently appeared to cash in on the half-century of Chamberlain's reluctant declaration, but I would say that, to all who lived through that war, and to those generations who wonder what the fuss was about, this one is close to obligatory reading.' Anthony Burgess, Observer 'memorable portrait of the last war' Independent 'just as clever, witty, painful, disturbing ... as the first' John Grigg, The Times 'Fussell's book is wide-ranging in its concerns and thoroughly researched.' Sunday Correspondent 'memorable and distinctive ... Wartimeis no friendly journey down memory lane. It forces you to think, and at the end forces you to feel.' Asa Briggs, Sunday Times 'characteristically wide-ranging ... Fussell's point is that war is barbaric, and no amount of high ideals and fustian rhetoric can disguise that central fact ... a lively, shocking and grimly funny book.' The Listener 'Fussell's book is wide-ranging in its concerns and thoroughly researched. There is much that is vivid and to the point' Alan Ross, Sunday Correspondent 'Professor Fussell has written a riveting book ... I would say that, to all who lived through that war, and to those generations who wonder what all the fuss was about, this one is close to obligatory reading.' Anthony Burgess, Observer 'unlike most military histories and documentaries, it does not glorify generals and, unlike flag-waving propaganda works about war, it leaves an anti-war aftertaste' Herbert Mitgang, International Herald Tribune 'as shocking an account of disaster and human error as one could find anywhere - and the pity of it is that it is all true' Geoffrey Moore, Financial Times 'A memorable portrait of the last war, constructed from personal anecdotes.' Tim Blanning, Independent 'His technique is simple but effective; he looks at the war "from the bottom up".' Tim Blanning, Independent 'Fussell is a wonderful writer - at once elegant and earthy. He gives us much to ponder in this volume, and, despite the grimness of the subject, considerable pleasure.' Nina King, Washington Post 'Wartime is an important and indispensible book' Library Journal 'brilliant, engaging cultural history' Publishers Weekly 'Funny, upsetting, at times brilliantly illuminating' Kirkus Reviews 'It is the work of a notably honest man ... his portrait of a conflict which was unwanted, total and interminable is superb' Philip Oakes, New Statesman & Society 'constructs a memorable portrait of the last war' The Independent 'surgically removes yet more illusions about our supposedly 'clean' World War II' Richard Eyre, Observer 'Professor Fussell has assembled a great deal of arresting material ... though cruder and less tidy than the argument of his Great War book, may in fact come closer to the truth' John Keegan, Sunday Telegraph 'constantly absorbing' Sunday Times 'This is a book that ought to become a bible for the peace movement.' Paul Pickering, Sanity 'If only there were more literary critics like Paul Fussell. Wartime, finally, is a book that is movingly expressive of the extremes of sadness and humor that mark the period. It is also the work of great scholarship. Fussell's creative engagement with his material, his rigor and his adventurous but clear style make him a model for contemporary cultural commentators.' Robin Gerster, The Herald, Melbourne 'This is a book that ought to become a bible for the peace movement. I have never seen such a concentrated and stylish debunking of war. Fussell has produced a masterpiece.' Paul Pickering, Sanity 'Wartime is a brave attempt to take the Second World War by the scruff of the neck and shake out a few of its secrets. Paul Fussell is refreshingly unafraid of voicing his opinions. As at the end of every war, the soldiers are grimly certain that 'the real war will never get into the books'. Wartime is an honourable attempt to see that it does.' Toby Banks, Living Marxism 'Truth was a major casualty; the realities of the war were sanitised to protect the decent innocent. Here Fussell gives us his scorching correction.' Observer 'Paul Fussell's Wartime deserves to become a classic' Sunday Times 'Wartime is a brave attempt to take the Second World War by the scruff of the neck and shake out a few of its secrets. Paul Fussell is refreshingly unafraid of voicing his opinions.' Living Marxism

About the Author

Paul Fussell is Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, and author of The Great War and Modern Memory (OUP 1975); Abroad (OUP 1982)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Watching a newsreel or flipping through an illustrated magazine at the beginning of the American war, you were likely to encounter a memorable image: the newly invented jeep, an elegant, slim-barrelled 37-mm gun in tow, leaping over a hillock. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant deflation of philosophy of morale 26 Jan 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
One of your other reviewers suggests that this book nicely complements the film "Saving Private Ryan." I'm sure that its author would take exception to this characterization. What Fussell's book does so brilliantly--and courageously--is to undermine the very ethic of sacrificial heroism by which SPR, for all its lip service to the "horror" of war, is massively informed. If you want to compare Fussell's book to a film, the only appropriate one is "Catch-22," the greatest of modern anti-war films, informed by the kind of irony that Fussell values and in his own work exemplifies. I, in fact, am assigning Fussell's text in my university English course, "Modern War and Modern Irony," reading it along side Heller's novel, Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five," and Josef Skovecky's "The Republic of Whores." THAT's the company with which Fussell would be most comfortable, not with Spielberg.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I could carve a better man out of a banana!" 26 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I want to disagree with the three previous reviews, to defend Fussell's vision. One reviewer seems to be confusing "Wartime" with Fussell's memoir "Doing Battle." The former is not intended as a memoir but as an alternate history--an alternative to the kind of history represented by a book recommended by another of the reviewers, i.e.,, Stephen Ambrose's "Citizen Soldiers." If Ambrose's book can be seen as a companion to Spielberg's romantic (and therefore disappointing) "Saving Private Ryan," then "Wartime" is parallel to--in fact is clearly inspired by--Heller's satirical "Catch-22." What Fussell and Heller have in common is that they both reject absolutely the work of the apologists of war--a category into which all three of these reviewers probably fit. What the reviewer who labels Fussell's book "unadulterated junk" seems to object to most is that Fussell, by training a literary critic, should have the presumption to write HISTORY. The reviewer suggests that, instead of reading Fussell, one should read anti-war novels, including Heller's "Catch-22." Here's what Heller had to say about Fussell's book: "No novel I have read surpasses its depiction of the awful human costs to all sides of modern warfare. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say it is unforgettable." What these reviewers find unFORGIVEable is that Mr. Fussell has, in writing this book, stepped outside the established conventions of historiography--that is why a book that to Heller and to me (another of those blasted literary types--YUCK!) is eminently readable appears to them "confused." They haven't yet learned how to read the sort of history Fussell is writing. THEY are confused, not Fussell. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I could carve a better man out of a banana!" 26 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I want to disagree with the three previous reviews, to defend Fussell's project. One reviewer seems to be confusing "Wartime" with Fussell's memoir "Doing Battle." The former is not intended as a memoir but as an alternate history--an alternative to the kind of history represented by a book recommended by another of the reviewers, i.e.,, Stephen Ambrose's "Citizen Soldiers." If Ambrose's book can be seen as a companion to Spielberg's romantic (and therefore disappointing) "Saving Private Ryan," then "Wartime" is parallel to--in fact is clearly inspired by--Heller's satirical "Catch-22." What Fussell and Heller have in common is that they both reject absolutely the work of the apologists of war--a category into which all three of these reviewers probably fit. What the reviewer who labels Fussell's book "unadulterated junk" seems to object to most is that Fussell, by training a literary critic, should have the presumption to write HISTORY. The reviewer suggests that, instead of reading Fussell, one should read anti-war novels, including Heller's "Catch-22." Here's what Heller had to say about Fussell's book: "No novel I have read surpasses its depiction of the awful human costs to all sides of modern warfare. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say it is unforgettable" (jacket blurb). What these reviewers find unFORGIVEable is that Mr. Fussell has, in writing this book, stepped outside the established conventions of historiography--that is why a book that to Heller and to me (another of those blasted literary types--YUCK!) is eminently readable appears to them "confused." They haven't yet learned how to read the sort of history Fussell is writing. Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely eye-opening 15 Dec 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I began this book not having any previous knowledge of Paul Fussell, save one essay of his that I had read for an English class, and was immediately astounded by the detail and accuracy with which he made his case. His anger and sarcasm towards the government and their stupidity and even towards the American public who, removed from the war, had the wool draw over their eyes completely. Fussell really makes the reader see his point and the complete effect is disturbing and heartwrenching.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable. 23 Aug 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Perfect accessory to Saving Private Ryan. This is a compelling story of the stupidity and violence of war (by someone who was there, in very much the same position as Captain Miller in SPR) as well as intelligent insight into the politics, brainwashing, and marketing that go into any nation's attempt to keep the population positively motivated toward the war effort. I read this book first just as the Gulf War was starting, and was reminded of its value by Speilberg's movie. The best book on war I've ever read.
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