Book Review: Up Front - Bill Mauldin (1945)

by fwhagen Thu, 09 August 2007

Bill Mauldin is probably the most famous cartoonist from World War II.  He was an infantry soldier in the Italian campaign who also worked for Stars and Stripes, the soldier-run newspaper.  If you were to see one of his strips, you would instantly recognize his work.

Up Front is a collection of some of Bill Mauldin's panels from the war, starring Willie and Joe, along with his own commentary on the war, his work and his own experiences.  They range from very funny to moving.  The text is in no particular order, the panels are roughly arranged by topic, and the stories are fine, indeed.  He gives the reader a feel for what the infantryman, the most important element of any army, went through while at the same time conveying a feeling that it truly can not be comprehended by any outside of the brotherhood of men who were there.

Bill Mauldin has been called the best cartoonist covering the war years and the plight of the foot soldier of all time.  I would agree, though I certainly have not been exposed to the full range.  I liken it to the book Company Commander, written by an average Joe made Captain and given the command of two subsequent companies during the invasion of France.  I tremendously enjoyed Up Front and it will be added to my permanent collection.  I anticipate that I will be reading it again many times, or at least referring back to it on many occasions.

Ed:  Wow, this is my third review in as many weeks!  But that's not entirely fair.  I started this book while still reading Fatal Terrain, which I reviewed a couple weeks late.  I did blaze through The Last Colony very quickly, though.  That was an excellent book!  And Up Front was a very easy read with a lot of space used for panel comics.

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