Monday, April 7, 2008

A. J. Liebling's World War II Writings

"The war brought out the best in [Liebling]. Here he . . . relied on straightforward observation, delivered in a style less mannered than Hemingway's, less sentimental than Ernie Pyle's, less excitable than Michael Herr's. It's the kind of writing that looks easy, except that very few war correspondents have ever done it so well."—Charles McGrath, The New York Times

I have been a member of the Library of America for about a year and always look forward to receiving my monthly volume. These are beautiful editions that fit nicely in one's hand, are printed on quality acid-free paper and even have a ribbon marker.

After spending the winter in SPI, I came home to several new titles. With the Iraq war dragging on and so much coverage - both good and bad - over the last five years, I wasn't sure this anthology of works including a collection of World War II articles, written by Liebling was where I wanted to begin.

Then I came upon a post in The Moderate Voice by Robert Stein and have decided to move this book up on my reading list.

Liebling's coverage of World War II for the New Yorker has now been gathered into a volume of 1089 pages by the Library of America. Like everything else he wrote, by reporting what he saw and heard, Liebling conveyed more about his subject than all the TV cameras and embedded journalists have told us about Iraq.

As a press critic, he was a premature blogger himself, looking behind the news and picking apart the work of those who delivered it, making connections between the motives and methods of the messengers and the frequent unreliability of the message.

The Library of America's collection titled A. J. Liebling's World War II Writings, brings together three books, 26 articles written for The New Yorker, and excerpts from The Republic of Silence.

For more information go to the Library of America.

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