War Makes Men of Boys
A Soldier's World War II
Publication Year: 2012
Hundreds of novels have been written about young men coming of age in war. And millions of young men have, in fact, come of age in combat. This is the story of one of them, as told by his daughter, based on the daily letters he wrote to his family in 1944 and 1945.
After ten months of stateside training, nineteen-year-old Joe Ted (Bud) Miller shipped out from New York harbor in November 1944 and served with the 63rd Infantry in France and Germany. Although he fought with his unit at the Colmar Pocket and earned a Bronze Star for his role in pushing through the Siegfried Line, his letters focus less on the details of battle than on the many aspects of his life in the military: food, PX, movies, biographies of friends and platoon-mates, training activities, travelogues, and the behavior (good and bad) of officers. Bud’s journalistic skills show in his letters and fill his reports with a wealth of objective detail, as well as articulate reflections on his feelings about his experiences.
Katherine I. Miller, a communication scholar, brings to her father’s letters—which form the centerpiece of the book—her scholarly training in analyzing issues such as the development of masculinity in historical context, the formation of adult identity, and the psychological effects of war. Further insights gained from additional personal and family archives, interviews with surviving family members, official paperwork, the unit history of the 63rd Infantry Division (254th Regiment), unit newspapers, pictorial histories, maps, and accounts by other unit members aided her in crafting this “interpretive biography.” The book also serves as a window onto more general questions of how individuals navigate complicated turning points thrown at them by external events and internal struggles as they move from youth to adulthood.
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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It is widely acknowledged that the infantry battles in northwestern Europe during World War II were fought by very young men. As Paul Fussell notes in The Boys’ Crusade, “The European ground war in the west was largely fought by American boys seventeen, eighteen, and nineteen years old. At seventeen you could...
Chapter One: Bud Joins the Army
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Throughout his life, my father disliked his name. In his laterlife writings about the “good things” and “bad things” that happened during childhood, he notes that the first good thing was being born, and the first bad one was being named. Though...
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Chapter Two: Bud Goes to War
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As I went through the box of my father’s letters, I came across two tissue- thin pieces of onionskin paper—a typed document and its carbon copy. The document is a list of dates and locations beginning with “6 Nov 1944—Entrained Camp Van Dorn Mississippi” and ending with “26 May 1945—Arrived Altenmunster...
Chapter Three: Family and Fatherhood
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The transformation to adult life happens across a variety of contexts—in work, with friends, in romance, at school, in public life. But because the family is one of the most formative and central institutions in society, the transition to adulthood...
Chapter Four: Buddies and Girlfriends
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The 1943 Rosemary, Urbana High School’s yearbook for my father’s senior year, paints an idyllic picture of high school life in the 1940s. There are pages devoted to sports teams, student council, and cheer squads, photos of homeroom classes and honor societies, and a large spread devoted to theater productions of...
Chapter Five: Work and Bureaucracy
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Children and adolescents today learn about work in many different places and ways: at home, at school, from part- time employment, and from television, movies, and the internet.1But my father, growing up during the Great Depression, did not have this ubiquity of avenues for learning about work and the workplace...
Chapter Six: Public and Private Morality
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The concept of morality is complex. Morality can be understood descriptively, as a code of behavior accepted by any specific individual or group. In this sense, the Nazi Party and its followers had a particular morality during World War II. Or morality can be understood normatively, as a universal code theoretically...
Epilogue: A Reluctant Member of the Greatest
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According to Publisher’s Weekly, Tom Brokaw’s book The Greatest Generation was the number two nonfiction bestseller in 1998 (bested only by Suze Orman’s The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom).1 In 1999, The Greatest Generation again made the number...
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Page Count: 184
Illustrations: 16 b&w photos. Bib. Index.
Publication Year: 2012