Arranged in chronological order, this collection of some 100 letters from soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines offers a very personal view of World War II and a sense of immediacy that is remarkable. The correspondence ranges from a GI's final message, written from Bataan, to a private's advice to his unexpectedly drafted father; from a general's letter of condolence to journalist Ernie Pyle's widow to a marine's revelation to his mother that he lost a leg in battle; from an airman's description of the mercy-killing of a comrade trapped in a burning plane to a soldier's reaction to the news of the A-bombings. Several letters are by well-known figures (William Halsey, George Patton, John Kennedy, among them), but these obviously were included for the eloquence of emotion expressed rather than because of the writer's renown.
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Published November 21, 2012