SERGEANT YORK: Reluctant Hero by Peter Andrews

SERGEANT YORK: Reluctant Hero

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If out of print means out of mind, Alvin York comes close; is he a has-been or just too hard to handle? Two ironies are inherent in the story of this backwoods boy whose Fundamentalist religion forbade killing but who, bowing to the Biblical citations of his superior officer, plunged in and became the most celebrated soldier of World War I. The first, ignored here, is that he wouldn't make the grade--any grade--today because of his paucity of education (which outdates him as the unschooled adept American projected by the author). The second is that only a discriminatory law--which didn't recognize his church--kept him from being classified as a conscientious objector. No accident, however, was his remarkable feat in singlehandedly killing 23 Germans and, with a few men, capturing 132 others; his superior marksmanship and self-possession are directly traceable to his background and upbringing, described at length here--unfortunately in a mixture of ""rootin' shootin' tootin'"" talkin' down and high-falutin' folderol (""As Alvin moved through the changing seasons. . . he was responding to all the sights and sounds. . . with great native intelligence and sensitivity""). His own words, frequently quoted, are more to the point, and there's great-great-grandfather ""Coonrod"" Pile for extra kicks. All you can do with this book, then, is what Andrews does with Alvin York--take him at face value and ask no questions.

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1969
Publisher: Putnam