DOING BATTLE by Paul Fussell


A Memoir


From literary historian Fussell (The Angi-Egotist, 1994; Wartime 1989; etc.), a lugubrious, frequently self-pitying account, relieved by flashes of wit, of how he evolved from a happy-go-lucky Southern California innocent into the vinegary cynic and intellectual snob he is now. Born in 1924, Fussell lived a privileged, even idyllic boyhood in Pasadena as the son of a distinguished local attorney. His principal interests were printing, photography, and magic. His innocence was unrelieved by his years at Pomona College, where he discovered literature, particularly the works of H.L. Mencken, whose acerbic and baroque contempt for America seems to have permanently marked Fussell's outlook. Neither Pomona nor Mencken was ideal preparation for his grueling WW II induction into the army and service in Company F of the 410th Infantry, 103rd Division. Combat was even more dehumanizing; here, as elsewhere, Fussell writes graphically and with simple eloquence of the disfiguring effects of combat on the body, mind, and soul of soldiers. On March 15, 1945, Fussell was severely wounded by shrapnel from a shell that killed the two men with him, and he spent considerable time experiencing the horrors of army hospital life. Annoyingly, Fussell can't help comparing all life experiences to a book he's read or a movie he's seen; he compares his field hospital to a scene in Gone With the Wind. Mustered out, he resolved to resist falsehood and cant, and after earning his Harvard doctorate, he bravely waged war on the sensibilities of the young "girl-children" of the Connecticut College for Women, whom he routinely reduced to "tears and tantrums." He moved on to despise the students at Rutgers University, whom he calls "moronic." Fussell treats the reader to a running commentary on his books and essays, venting iconoclastic views on war, culture, and other subjects along the way. Unpleasant in many ways, but valuable, as are other of Fussell's works, for a forthright portrayal of war's horrors and lasting ill effects.
Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 1996
ISBN: 0-316-29717-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1996

PAUL FUSSELL, 1924-2012:

Nonfiction BAD by Paul Fussell
Kirkus Star BAD
by Paul Fussell
Nonfiction THE ANTI-EGOTIST by Paul Fussell
by Paul Fussell
Nonfiction DOING BATTLE by Paul Fussell
by Paul Fussell
Nonfiction UNIFORMS by Paul Fussell
by Paul Fussell


NonfictionTHE BOYS’ CRUSADE by Paul Fussell
by Paul Fussell
NonfictionUNIFORMS by Paul Fussell
by Paul Fussell
NonfictionTHE ANTI-EGOTIST by Paul Fussell
by Paul Fussell