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~Free Pdf ♿ The Boys' Crusade: The American Infantry in Northwestern Europe, 1944-45 ☤ The Boys Crusade is the great historian Paul Fussell s unflinching and unforgettable account of the American infantryman s experiences in Europe during World War II Based in part on the author s own experiences, it provides a stirring narrative of what the war was actually like, from the point of view of the children for children they were who fought it While dealing definitively with issues of strategy, leadership, context, and tactics, Fussell has an additional purpose to tear away the veil of feel good mythology that so often obscures and sanitizes war s brutal essence A chronicle should deal with nothing but the truth, Fussell writes in his Preface Accord ingly, he eschews every kind of sentimentalism, focusing instead on the raw action and human emotion triggered by the intimacy, horror, and intense sorrows of war, and honestly addressing the errors, waste, fear, misery, and resentments that plagued both sides In the vast literature on World War II, The Boys Crusade stands wholly apart Fussell s profoundly honest portrayal of these boy soldiers underscores their bravery even as it deepens our awareness of their experiences This book is both a tribute to their noble service and a valuable lesson for future generations In the American Civil War there was a shorthand phrase for having been in combat, seeing the elephant Like an elephant, being under fire and seeing death and destruction all around was completely different from anything previously experienced, or even imagined Paul Fussell saw the elephant, experiencing combat in all its monstrous, horrific, tragic violence As a newly commissioned second lieutenant in the 103rd Infantry Division in 1944 45 he fought in France and Germany, where he earned th In the American Civil War there was a shorthand phrase for having been in combat, seeing the elephant Like an elephant, being under fire and seeing death and destruction all around was completely different from anything previously experienced, or even imagined Paul Fussell saw the elephant, experiencing combat in all its monstrous, horrific, tragic violence As a newly commissioned second lieutenant in the 103rd Infantry Division in 1944 45 he fought in France and Germany, where he earned the Bronze Star and Purple Heart When he writes of the life of an infantryman, defined by cold, filth, confusion, and terror, his words have the ring of truth because he was writing about what he remembered His 1996 book Doing Battle was a personal memoir of his time during the war this book abstracts his experiences to a general discussion of how the soldiers lived, fought, and died.It is a small, short book Although my copy is a hardcover, it is only about five by seven inches, the size of a paperback, and at less than 170 pages it is a quick read, something that can be finished in a couple of hours.It consists of eighteen short chapters, one only four pages long Each looks at a different aspect of combat in Europe Some describe the feelings of the young soldiers, most away from home for the first time, and their relations with the English strained, bordering on hostile and the French often hostile, since the Allies had bombed many French towns to rubble before the invasion, killing around 100,000 men, women, and children Several of the important battles are described, such as the Falaise Gap, H rtgen Forest, and the Bulge, but also a small but significant example of troops holding out Lost Battalion style at a place called Mortain Losses in Europe were much higher than Army command had expected, and there was a pressing need for a constant supply of replacements By late in the war most of these were draftees rushed through abbreviated basic training When evenbodies were needed, troops were culled out of aviation units and sent to the infantry, as were a large group of educated young men who thought they had been promised they would sit out the war taking college courses The large influx of these reluctant soldiers, many angry at finding themselves in the front lines, seriously affected morale and unit cohesion Malingering was common, as was desertion and self inflicted wounds There is a book by Charles Glass called The Deserters A Hidden History of World War II, which shows how large the problem was, including tens of thousands of American and British deserters in Paris alone.The end was never in doubt, although the Germans, whipped into a desperate frenzy by Nazi propaganda, fought to the bitter end In the closing weeks of the war the Americans stumbled upon the concentration camps, and were sickened and appalled by what they saw For the first time they started to hate the Germans, truly hate them, and many vowed never to take another prisoner alive It also drove home to the soldiers that what they were fighting for really mattered This wasn t a quarrel between governments but a fight for the very essence of civilization, of decency and humanity This is what the soldiers had fought their way across France and Germany for, and it was worth any price to extinguish the forces of raging hatred and demonic evil that drove Nazi Germany For all their dead and wounded, all the misery and terror they had experienced, they had done the right thing, and liberating Europe was one of history s great examples of good confronting and defeating evil Paul Fussell never shies away from the inanities and incompetencies of serving in the Army, but he also never loses sight of the larger picture, that some things will always be worth fighting, and even dying, for Paul Fussell might be my new history hero I mean that literally, and in the most positive possible sense, but Professor Fussell might not approve of that appellation His work is itself a warning against the idolatry of war and, as a byproduct, the mythologizing of soldiers whom Fussell insists rightly on calling boys throughout his history into something other than desperate children trapped in desperate situations Heroes might very well come from battle, but it is a world of villainy t Paul Fussell might be my new history hero I mean that literally, and in the most positive possible sense, but Professor Fussell might not approve of that appellation His work is itself a warning against the idolatry of war and, as a byproduct, the mythologizing of soldiers whom Fussell insists rightly on calling boys throughout his history into something other than desperate children trapped in desperate situations Heroes might very well come from battle, but it is a world of villainy that they stand out in, and heralding them serves as a form of absolution for the horrors of war itself, for it allows people to overlook the political crimes, stupidities, egos and entitlement that created the horrors in which some few men for they are surely matured by their experience stand out.Fussell s own military experience as an infantry officer during WWII is the least of his accomplishments It is in portraying that war honestly and accurately that his legacy rests This book is a snippet of that process In telling I should say retelling because most of the history in this book can be found in other sources Fussell gives a ground up account of events his subject ranges from the boys doing the fighting to the upper echelon of the general staff He focuses on several particular events during that war the Falaise Pocket, the Battle of the Bulge amongst them that generally get less attention than other aspects of the war, and in doing so he describes the experience of the soldiers in a way very few other scholars attempt He portrays them simply as boys whose ignorance and innocence is shattered In doing so, he draws the reader into that experience in a way that very few other writers attempt or would be capable of Though that is most likely an impossible task, Fussell does relate details in a way that is powerful and profound It may not convey what it was like in any true sense of that term, but it does stand neatly in the truth s shadow, facing directly forward.Where the book might err is in its brevity 1944 45 is not a very large portion of the American Crusade in Europe, and though we can extrapolate from that period into the Italian Campaign, the African Campaign, the experience of the soldiers who fought at sea or in the air, the infantryman experience is not the entirety of what he dubs a modern installment of the children s crusade Fussell maintains that focus, of course, by design, but in its own way that specialization prevents the reader from acomplete understanding This book, therefore, becomes just a piece of the puzzle It is a vital piece, to be sure, and one that is missing from most of the other historical jigsaw puzzles presented by other scholars, but it cannot complete the picture in the way that, say, John Keegan s The Mask of Command tells us about the admittedly, muchwell covered and, therefore, less necessary nature of military leaders.In a marketplace filled with such tripe as Tom Brokaw s pop history The Greatest Generation and Saving Private Ryan, a book that takes or even attempts an honest assessment of the actions and reactions of the boys to their situation is a refreshing change of pace I d recommend this book to anyone with an interest in military history, the psychology of combat or in the history of the period just before and in the decades since WWII This was a present for my father which I subsequently took out in the backyard on a subsequent visit to read while avoiding him This is a sad and ongoing condition.The book is also disturbing, a sage counterpoint to the warmongering shit of Stephen Ambrose Fussell s work puts myths to rest and reminds us of the horrific. I chose to read this book now because the previous thing I read was a really long slog of a book about madness, and I wanted something short Short this might be, but it was not an easy read I ve read quite a bit of Fussell and really admire his work, but this was evenfocused than he usually is on the incompetence and cruelty that war inevitably involves I could read only about twenty to thirty pages at a time, and to cheer myself up, I alternated the Fussell with rereading The Hunger Ga I chose to read this book now because the previous thing I read was a really long slog of a book about madness, and I wanted something short Short this might be, but it was not an easy read I ve read quite a bit of Fussell and really admire his work, but this was evenfocused than he usually is on the incompetence and cruelty that war inevitably involves I could read only about twenty to thirty pages at a time, and to cheer myself up, I alternated the Fussell with rereading The Hunger Games for about the eighth time If there is anyone who can make a dystopian novel about teenagers being forced to fight to death seem cheerful, it s Fussell And it s largely because of what I ve read of Fussell s work that I m always so moved by one of Katniss s reflections near the end of Mockingjay They can design dream weapons that come to life in my hands, but they will never again brainwash me into the necessity of using them I no longer feel any allegiance to these monsters called human beings, despite being one myself I think that Peeta was onto something about us destroying one another and letting some decent species take over Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children s lives to settle its differences You can spin it any way you like Snow though the Hunger Games were an efficient means of control Coin thought the parachutes expedite the war But in the end, who does it benefit No one The truth is, it benefits no one to live in a world where these things happen.That s what war is a game in which human beings sacrifice our children to settle our differences The Boys Crusade makes that clear In his opening pages, Fussell recalls the famed Children s Crusade of the early 13th century, when 50,000 young people may or may not have marched into the Holy Land in an attempt to free it of Islam It was an adventure that strikes modern sensibilities as nothing if not appalling.He then points to Eisenhower s unironic invocation of the term crusade 700 years later, on the eve of D day It was an invasion that would cost 135,000 American boys their lives boys, Fussell points out, who were In his opening pages, Fussell recalls the famed Children s Crusade of the early 13th century, when 50,000 young people may or may not have marched into the Holy Land in an attempt to free it of Islam It was an adventure that strikes modern sensibilities as nothing if not appalling.He then points to Eisenhower s unironic invocation of the term crusade 700 years later, on the eve of D day It was an invasion that would cost 135,000 American boys their lives boys, Fussell points out, who were mostly still teenagers I mean no disrespect to the memory of Dwight D Eisenhower by examining his term crusade, Fussell writes It made some sense at the moment, even if many of the still unbloodied troops were likely to ridicule it If they read or heard the Supreme Commander s words at all, they were doubtless embarrassed to have so highfalutin a term applied to their forthcoming performances and their feelings about them What the troops understood beforehand and what Eisenhower saw fit to forget even in retrospect the title of his war memoir was Crusade in Europe forms the bulk of Fussell s short book a litany of the horrors of war experienced by and perpetrated by our boys in Europe.There is mention, for instance, of the extensive Allied bombing of Pas de Calais in 1944 to further the ruse that this would be the D day landing spot Even the Germans found it hard to believe that their enemy would kill so many civilians merely to maintain a deception, Fussell notes.There is a revealing examination of American soldiers attitudes toward the French and vice versa, as well as an acknowledgement of just how much better supplied GIs were next to the Brits compare 22.5 sheets of toilet paper per day for the former to just three for the latter a fact that resulted for the Americans in better hygiene and lotssex with British girls.There are many instances of gross incompetence incompetence that, for Fussell, was the rule and not the exception leading to countless military and civilian casualties alike In one memorable chapter, ironically titled One Small Unit Action, Fussell narrates a platoon s doomed frontal assault on a superior German position The order to attack may have been unintentionally precipitated by the platoon s lieutenant, who, in an argument with his superior, corrected the use of the word revelant The lieutenant was subsequently shot through the neck, and several soldiers were forced to painfully play dead for 12 hours before being rescued.Fussell lets us see how talk of medals are used immediately after to cover up cowardice and ineptitude, and then how the unit s official history boils the horrifying encounter down to a fracas, and a victorious one at that.Fussell writes with characteristic anger, humanity and furious insight His knowledge is wide ranging he is by trade an English professor and has as much to say about poetry as he does about war but his voice thankfully lacks the somber, this is good for you quality of Chris Hedges, author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and What Every Person Should Know About War.Still, The Boys Crusade feels undercooked too arbitrary in its choice of vignettes, too vague in its arguments It s tough to figure if it s too short or, even at fewer than 200 pages, too long.What redeems it in the end is its willingness to wonder about the complications of its title In his chapter The Camps, Fussell shows how the Holocaust provided, nearly after the fact, a viscerally powerful moral justification for the war s slaughter On the other hand, discovery of the death camps also brought to the surface our own darkest impulses I will never take another German prisoner armed or unarmed, declared one American lieutenant at Dachau How can they expect to do what they have done and simply say I quit, and go scot free They are not fit to live Read my full review here During a recent conversation with a friend and ex client who was a member of my father s generation and a retired military intelligence officer, I was referred to this book as a good representation of what it was really like to be in the infantry in WWII in the battles of northern Europe The author, Paul Fussell, tells it like it was, which is to say, brutal, bloody, and surprisingly, for one like me with no military experience whatsoever eye opening to say the least on the subject of how dis During a recent conversation with a friend and ex client who was a member of my father s generation and a retired military intelligence officer, I was referred to this book as a good representation of what it was really like to be in the infantry in WWII in the battles of northern Europe The author, Paul Fussell, tells it like it was, which is to say, brutal, bloody, and surprisingly, for one like me with no military experience whatsoever eye opening to say the least on the subject of how disorganized and even downright incompetent some of our military commanders were Surprising, considering we won the war decisively, yet could have done much better by our own troops than we did Surprising, also, in that IMHO our modern day military commanders appear not to have learned enough from the mistakes of their predecessors, as it seems we keep making the same mistakes in battle over and over again.One stark, revealing comment made by the author at the end of the book in the section called Suggestions for Further Reading is the following Readers should realize that all writing sent from the front lineshad to pass rigorous censorship The writing and pictures by official, accredited reporters and photographers had to pass censorship in Paris or New York The result was that during the war, nothing really nasty as the troops knew it could reach nonmilitary minds, and readers of this book should realize that even when writers describe gruesome experiences and sights, the most appalling details have probably been excised or softened Things were worse than they were allowed to seem, and many were literally unspeakable In other words, as bad as it seems to anyone who reads this or other accounts of battles and combat conditions, in reality, IT WAS FAR WORSE As I have many times in my life, when I finished this well written book, I said a little prayer of thanks that I wasn t around to witness or God forbid participate in any of it The second part of my little prayer is the fervent hope that nobody else ever again has to do so Amen Paul Fussell s book is an unusual contribution to the Modern Library Chronicles series Whereas most volumes provide short introductions to their respective subjects, as other reviewers have noted, this is not a straightforward military history of the war with Germany Instead, Fussell offers a muchidiosyncratic work, a social and cultural history of the American riflemen who fought in northwestern Europe after Normandy.This is not to say that this book isn t worth reading quite the cont Paul Fussell s book is an unusual contribution to the Modern Library Chronicles series Whereas most volumes provide short introductions to their respective subjects, as other reviewers have noted, this is not a straightforward military history of the war with Germany Instead, Fussell offers a muchidiosyncratic work, a social and cultural history of the American riflemen who fought in northwestern Europe after Normandy.This is not to say that this book isn t worth reading quite the contrary Throughout this book, Fussell dispels much of the greatest generation mythology cultivated in recent years by writers such as Stephen Ambrose A veteran of the war, Fussell provides a muchcomplicated portrait of inexperienced young boys thrown into the chaos and violence of combat In a series of short chapters, he covers topics ranging from the interactions with the French to the treatment of the wounded and the dead to the discovery of the work camps all of which he addresses with the same blunt and insightful analysis that is a hallmark of his work Anyone seeking to get aaccurate portrait of what the good war was really like for the men who fought in it would do well to start here Paul Fussell was a WWII veteran He served as an infantry officer with the 103rd Infantry Division in France and Germany After the war he went on to have a distinguished career as a writer and professor Like many men of his generation the War never went away and it remained an essential part of his life It could be argued that the experience shaped him and influnced him for the decades that he lived after leaving the army Like it did so many others The Boys Crusade is a series of essays Paul Fussell was a WWII veteran He served as an infantry officer with the 103rd Infantry Division in France and Germany After the war he went on to have a distinguished career as a writer and professor Like many men of his generation the War never went away and it remained an essential part of his life It could be argued that the experience shaped him and influnced him for the decades that he lived after leaving the army Like it did so many others The Boys Crusade is a series of essays examining the experience of the U.S Infantry in the fighting in Northwestern Europe France, Germany, Belgium,Netherlands,Luxembourg from 1944 1945 This is not an Stephen Ambrose or Tom Brokaw history, butan angry bitter accounting of the war from the Jones and Vonnegut school You won t find any gauzy Greatest Generation sentimentality coming from Paul Fussell The Boys Crusade is a short read and much of the research is from sources that I have read in the past Actually much of what Fussell writes about is nothing new for those who are familiar with the war, but for those who aren t it will be a rude awakening He doesn t sugarcoat his fellow veterans or the U.S military War is an unbelievable disaster and Fussell wants the reader to know this It s a tightly written book that ,while angry in parts, does not get bogged down in pathos or politiczing At one point Fussell even writes that his book is not an argument for pacificism even as he accounts the horrors The war had to be fought Nazi Germany was a danger and a monstrosity Fussell acknowledges this, but he won t brush over the Human cost of the war Good for him While WWII is sometimes called the Good War, this book explains how it wasn t the Perfect War and that there really isn t a Good War, no matter how right we think we are I get that in war, decisions are made that are part of the whole winning the war thing but so often the lives destroyed are overlooked The focus is the last 9 months or so of the war in northern Europe whenandinfantry were being thrown at the battle most of them barely trained One comment was that it took 6 we While WWII is sometimes called the Good War, this book explains how it wasn t the Perfect War and that there really isn t a Good War, no matter how right we think we are I get that in war, decisions are made that are part of the whole winning the war thing but so often the lives destroyed are overlooked The focus is the last 9 months or so of the war in northern Europe whenandinfantry were being thrown at the battle most of them barely trained One comment was that it took 6 weeks on the front lines to unlearn the things being taught in training Lots of fascinating and I hope true as well bits of information about American GIs smelling better than their British counterparts, and the US Army planned for fartoilet paper per person than did the British thought that wasn t the main reason for the odor difference These balanced some of the less amusing bits.I found similarities between the descriptions in this book and descriptions of Vietnam and Korea that I hadn t expected And also both Gulf Wars For all that we study it, we don t really seem to learn from history