... And then there's war
correspondents. One of the casualties [of the war] was American correspondent
Ernie Pyle, who was killed by a sniper on Ie Shima in the spring of '45, during the
Okinawa campaign. Ernie was a favorite of the G.I.s. He captured the moral dimension
of the war brilliantly but managed to do it in simple prose. He could explain
something very complex, like how bomb fuses worked, and make it completely understandable
to the grandma or grocery clerk back home. But most of all he captured people
stories. His writing was like verbal photographs; you felt you knew pretty well who these
GIs were when he wrote about 'em.
Compilations were already being made during the war. I checked one out of the
library yesterday Brave Men. It's a collection of Pyle's
columns detailingthe fight in Europe in 1943-44.
Description of Brave Men: "Long before television
beamed daily images of comat into our living rooms, Pyle's on-the-spot reporting gave the
American public a first-hand view of what war was like for the boys on the front. Pyle
followed the soldiers into the trenches, battlefields, field hospitals, and beleaguered
cities of Europe. What he witnessed he described with a clarity, sympathy, and grit that
gave the public back home an immediate sense of the foot soldier's experience."
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