Soldiers, sex and war; the civilian military man versus the Regular Army; courage that surmounts fear; and the period that...

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THE DAY THE CENTURY ENDED

Soldiers, sex and war; the civilian military man versus the Regular Army; courage that surmounts fear; and the period that Hiroshima wrote to the century -- these are the elements of Samuel Francis Gifford's story, told in the first person. Opening with his reporting to George Company (the convict company) after a court-martial for striking an officer under combat circumstances, Gifford traces his growing knowledge of the rank atmosphere among his companions, the disgust with their CO and his goons, the stories of the various ""fukups"" among them, the falling away of decency- except friendship. He backtracks to his life in Gray's landing, the unswerving determination of Jenny Cozzens to marry him and their happy, passionate wedded life and, with Pearl Harbor, under Jenny's father as commander of the National Guard, heading for the Pacific. Sam shapes up into a good soldier, Cozzens into a crazy, beloved ""Colonel"", whose men are proud of their reputation, but with his death, the morale slumps, sinks and rots under his replacement. When Sam's four friends are unnecessarily shot by an officer, anger and loyalty blast him into his court-martial and George Company, and there he finds new and worthwhile partners. Outpost duty for them opens them up to Jap attack, kills off all but Sam and Willie, and sends Sam back to the perimeter to find that the atom bomb has ended the fighting -- but not the new values he has learned. The charnel house and clinically physical aspects of war, the fear that is malignant, the soldier that is at the same time a man are here in close perspective, shocking impact and utter frankness -- for that audience which may still absorb another panel in the picture.

Pub Date: May 23, 1955

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Rinehart

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1955