Paul Fussel's " The Boys' Crusade: The American Infantry in Northwestern Europe, 1944-1945"

5.0 out of 5 stars Should be mandatory reading for everyone, everywhere

Paul Fussell, who gets to speak because he led an infantry platoon across France and Germany, tells of the incredible screwups and terrible decisions made by American commanders in World War II and the reality of the "men" (they were mostly aged 17) who fought in the front lines. He explodes the myth of the serenely competent planning, the love and admiration of the front line soldier for his commanding officers and yet, he does not forget the inherent nobility and courage of these generally young men who took down one of the great evils of the 20th Century.

However, if you think that the glorification of the WW2 military (and the scorn heaped on their Vietnam War equivalents) is a bit overstated, this is the book to read. It's always refreshing to read the reality behind the Hollywood portrayal of things--there were 2,000 American deserters in Paris and they ran the black market, the front-line soldiers were a very small percentage of the military and they basically hated anyone but another veteran front-line soldier, the failure of the "repple-depple" (replacement depot) system where new men were slotted into fighting units on an individual instead of a squad basis and how they were essentially ignored by the combat veterans who knew they wouldn't live long enough, in most cases, to even remember their names.

Fussell was there and came home to spend the rest of his life researching and writing about these soldiers (his work on the ubiquitous use of the f-word is priceless.)

He deserves to be heard.

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