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The Boys' Crusade

The American Infantry in Northwestern Europe, 1944-1945

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Paperback published by Modern Library (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
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.


From the Hardcover edition.
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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.


From the Hardcover edition.
Product Details
Paperback (208 pages)
Published: September 13, 2005
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Modern Library
ISBN: 9780812974881
Other books byPaul Fussell
  • Good-Bye to All That

    Good-Bye to All That
    An Autobiography
    In this autobiography, first published in 1929, poet Robert Graves traces the monumental and universal loss of innocence that occurred as a result of the First World War. Written after the war and as he was leaving his birthplace, he thought, forever, Good-Bye to All That bids farewell not only to England and his English family and friends, but also to a way of life. Tracing his upbringing from his solidly middle-class Victorian childhood through his entry into the war at age twenty-one as a patriotic captain in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, this dramatic, poignant, often wry autobiography goes on to depict the horrors and disillusionment of the Great War, from life in the trenches and the loss of dear friends, to the stupidity of government bureaucracy and the absurdity of English class stratification. Paul Fussell has hailed it as ""the best memoir of the First World War"" and has written the introduction to this new edition that marks the eightieth anniversary of the end of the war. An enormous success when it was first issued, it continues to find new readers in the thousands each year and has earned its designation as a true classic.

    The Great War and Modern Memory

    The Great War and Modern Memory
    Paul Fussell’s award-winning landmark study of World War I, originally published in 1975, remains as original and gripping today as ever—but now, for the first time, his literary and illuminating account comes in a beautifully illustrated edition. World War I changed a generation, ushered in the modern era, and revolutionized how we see the world. By drawing from a variety of primary sources—including personal correspondence, newspapers, and literary works—Fussell brings the period alive. Not only does he give us a more profound understanding of what the Great War meant to the people who lived through it, he also analyzes our modern perception of its impact. The wide selection of rare and fascinating images (approximately 160 of them) includes photographs, illustrations, and maps from period books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements, and other publications. Not only do they heighten the impact of Fussell’s remarkable critical interpretation, they help us fully grasp the true scope of this aptly named and catastrophic war.  

    Abroad

    Abroad
    British Literary Traveling Between the Wars
    A book about the meaning of travel, about how important the topic has been for writers for two and a half centuries, and about how excellent the literature of travel happened to be in England and America in the 1920s and 30s.

    Wartime

    Wartime
    Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War
    Winner of both the National Book Award for Arts and Letters and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, Paul Fussell's classicThe Great War and Modern Memoryremains one of the most original and gripping volumes ever written about the First World War. In its panoramic scope and poetic intensity, it illuminated a war that changed a generation and revolutionized the way we see the world. Now, inWartime, Paul Fussell turns to the Second World War, the conflict in which he himself fought, to weave a more intensely personal and wide-ranging narrative. Whereas his former book focused primarily on literary figures, here Fussell examines the immediate impact of the war on soldiers and civilians. He compellingly depicts the psychological and emotional atmosphere of World War II by analyzing the wishful thinking and the euphemisms people needed to deal with unacceptable reality; by describing the abnormally intense frustration of desire and some of the means by which desire was satisfied; and, most importantly, by emphasizing the damage the war did to intellect, discrimination, honesty, individuality, complexity, ambiguity, and wit. Of course, no book of Fussell's would be complete without serious attention to the literature of the time. He offers astute commentary on Edmund Wilson's argument with Archibald MacLeish, Cyril Connolly'sHorizonmagazine, the war poetry of Randall Jarrell and Louis Simpson, and many other aspects of the wartime literary world. In this stunning volume, Fussell conveys the essence of that war as no other writer before him has.

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
  • Preface: Those intimate with the military and its ways have experienced the army's obsession with the Western European campaign of World War II.

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  • When Ike Eisenhower was a boy, European history was more avidly pursued in schools than now, and it's also possible that he knew a bit about the Crusades from his own reading, if he...

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  • The years proved it unnecessary, but at the time it made a kind of sense available only to a boy who had enacted the role of a murderous Crusader and by some miracle survived.

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