ERNIE PYLE'S WAR by James Tobin


America's Eyewitness to World War II
Email this review


 From Detroit News reporter Tobin, the definitive biography of this country's great WW II war correspondent. There was little in Ernie Pyle's background to suggest greatness. Born in 1900 in Indiana to an unsuccessful farmer, Pyle grew into a small, quiet man with a tendency to hypochondria. He dropped out of Indiana University in 1923 to accept a job as a reporter for the LaPorte Herald. Later that year, he made the leap to big-city journalism with a job at the Washington Daily News. In the capital, he met Geraldine Siebolds, whom he married in 1925. After a peripatetic period, he became a widely read roving columnist for the Scripps-Howard papers. According to Tobin, covering the war allowed Pyle to escape from a disintegrating marriage. Reporting on Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, he swiftly became a favorite of the soldiers, as his columns portrayed the war from the standpoint of the average GI rather than that of the generals: Pyle faithfully relayed messages from soldiers to their families, mentioned soldiers by name in his columns, and shaped America's image of the Good War (as Tobin shows, Pyle was both oppressed and exhilarated by the war but was often unable to get his darker images of war past the military censors). Exhausted after several years in the European theater, he basked in homefront glory (he wrote two bestselling books, had an audience with Eleanor Roosevelt, and a movie was made about his life) before leaving again to report on the Pacific War. Insisting on covering the invasion of Okinawa from the front lines, he was killed by a Japanese machine gun on the beach at Ie Shima on April 18, 1945. Tobin's account is a balanced tribute to the quintessential war correspondent: In his ability to make war come alive and at the same time show its human side, Pyle was never to be bettered by any of the generation of war correspondents that followed.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-83642-4
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1997


NonfictionTHE MAN HE BECAME by James Tobin
by James Tobin
NonfictionTO CONQUER THE AIR by James Tobin
by James Tobin
NonfictionGREAT PROJECTS by James Tobin
by James Tobin


NonfictionWHEN BOOKS WENT TO WAR by Molly Guptill Manning
by Molly Guptill Manning
NonfictionNEWSMAKER by Patricia Beard
by Patricia Beard
NonfictionTHE WAR BEAT, EUROPE by Steven Casey
by Steven Casey