Commissioned in Battle: A Combat Infantryman in the Pacific

Hellgate Press, 2012

Gruenfeld Cover_draft 1

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

W&2 coverIn 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.

Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front

W.W. Norton, 2008

lowres cover“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


Willie & Joe: The WWII Years

Fantagraphics Books

bookcover_mauld1-3d[1]“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

TheRoadcoverIn 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.

Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America

University of Chicago Press, 2003

CitizenHobocoverIn the years following the Civil War, an army of homeless men swept across America and forged a beguiling and bedeviling counterculture known as “hobohemia.” Celebrating unfettered masculinity and jealously guarding the American road as the preserve of white manhood, hoboes took command of downtown districts and swaggered onto center stage of the new urban culture. They also staked claims on the American polity that would transform the very entitlements of American citizenship. In this eye-opening work of American history, Todd DePastino tells the epic story of hobohemia’s rise and fall, and crafts a stunning new interpretation of the “American century” in the process.
 “Anyone who wants to understand the ‘homeless’ of today should disregard any of the hundreds of books on the subject and start with this one. Citizen Hobo provides much-needed historical context on hoboes and the army of dispossessed now on America’s streets. Todd DePastino has done a stunning amount of research, and he has created a vital and highly readable book. Citizen Hobo is not simply about hoboes or the homeless—it’s a story about America.”—Dale Maharidge, author of And Their Children After Them