Jay Gruenfeld’s war ended on May 15, 1945, his 90th day as a battlefield commissioned 2d lieutenant. When he left his platoon on a rain-soaked hillside on Luzon, Philippines, Jay was a twenty-year old veteran of two campaigns with the 103rd Regiment of the 43rd Infantry Division. He was coming to the end of what he calls “the greatest, most consequential time of my life.” This is his story. A story of combat. A story of brothers-in-arms. And above all, a story of survival under extreme conditions.
Willie & Joe: Back Home (Fantagraphics Books, 2011)
In the summer of 1945, a great tide of battered soldiers began flowing back to the united States from around the globe. Though victorious, these exhausted men were nevertheless too grief-stricken over the loss of comrades, too guilt-ridden that they had survived, and too numbed by trauma to share in the country’s euphoria. Willie & Joe: Back Home brilliantly chronicles the struggles and disillusionments of these early postwar years and, in doing so, tells Bill Mauldin’s own extraordinary story of his journey home to a wife he barely knew and a son he had only seen in pictures. This second volume of Fantagraphics’ series reprinting Mauldin’s greatest work identifies and restores the dozens of cartoons censored by Mauldin’s syndicate for their attacks on racial segregation and McCarthy-style “witch hunts.” Mauldin pleaded with his syndicate to let him out of his contract so that he could return to the simple quiet life so desired by Willie & Joe. The syndicate refused, so Mauldin did battle, as always, through pen and ink.
“A deeply felt, vivacious and wonderfully illustrated biography.” -Clancy Sigal, Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Vibrant, moving, and full of wonderful cartoons, DePastino’s book breathes life into a fascinating American genius.” — Chris Patsilelis, Philadelphia Inquirer
“DePastino’s bio serves not only as an appreciation of Mauldin’s artistry but also as a complex portrait of an iconoclast who started out as the Greatest Generation’s court jester but grew to become its conscience.” — Bob Cannon, Entertainment Weekly
“Bill Mauldin was my first artist hero . . . [Willie & Joe: The WWII Years] reminds me why.”— Steven Heller, The New York Times Book Review
“There’s a sad wisdom on virtually every page here.”— Jeff Salamon, The Austin American-Statesman
“These gritty, existential cartoons—everything Mauldin published during the war that still exists is compiled here—are the real deal and then some.”—Laurel Maury, NPR
The Road by Jack London (Rutgers University, 2006)
In 1894, an 18-year-old Jack London quit his job shoveling coal, hopped a freight train, and left California on the first leg of a ten thousand-mile odyssey. His adventure was an exaggerated version of the unemployed migrations made by millions of boys, men, and a few women during the original “great depression” of the 1890s. By taking to the road, young wayfarers like London forged a vast hobo subculture that was both a product of the new urban industrial order and a challenge to it. “I went on ‘The Road,’” London writes, “because I couldn’t keep away from it . . . Because I was so made that I couldn’t work all my life on ‘one same shift’; because-well, just because it was easier to than not to.” The best stories that London told about his hoboing days can be found in The Road, a collection of nine essays that first appeared in 1908. The zest and humor of his tales, as Todd DePastino explains in his lucid introduction, often obscure their depth and complexity. The Road is as much a commentary on London’s disillusionment with wealth, celebrity, and the literary marketplace as it is a picaresque memoir of his youth.