A. J. Liebling
World War II Writings
The Road Back to Paris • Mollie and Other War Pieces • Normandy Revisited • uncollected war journalism
"The war brought out the best in [Liebling]. Here he . . . relied on straightforward observation, delivered in a style less mannered than Hemingway's, less sentimental than Ernie Pyle's, less excitable than Michael Herr's. It's the kind of writing that looks easy, except that very few war correspondents have ever done it so well."
—Charles McGrath, The New York Times
Read an exclusive interview with volume editor Pete Hamill (PDF, 58KB)
Read an excerpt, "Letter from Paris, September 1, 1944" (PDF, 58KB)
One of the most gifted and influential American journalists of the 20th century, A. J. Liebling spent five years reporting the dramatic events and myriad individual stories of World War II. As a correspondent for The New Yorker, Liebling wrote with a passionate commitment to Allied victory, an unfailing attention to telling details, and an appreciation for the literary challenges presented by the "discursive, centrifugal, both repetitive and disparate" nature of war.
This Library of America volume brings together three books along with 26 uncollected New Yorker pieces and two excerpts from The Republic of Silence (1947), Liebling's collection of writing from the French Resistance.
The Road Back to Paris (1944) narrates Liebling's experiences from September 1939 to March 1943, including his shock at the fall of France and dismay at isolationist indifference in the United States; it contains classic accounts of a winter voyage on a Norwegian tanker during the battle of the Atlantic, visits to front-line airfields in North Africa, and the defeat of a veteran panzer division by American troops in Tunisia. Mollie and Other War Pieces (1964) brings together Liebling's portrait of a legendary nonconformist American soldier in North Africa with his eyewitness account of Omaha beach on D-Day, evocative reports from Normandy, and investigation of a German atrocity in rural France.
In Normandy Revisited (1958) Liebling writes about his return to France in 1955 and recalls the joyous liberation of his beloved Paris while exploring with bittersweet perception how wartime experience is transformed into memory. The selection of uncollected New Yorker pieces includes a profile of an RAF ace, surveys of the French underground press, and an encounter with a captured collaborator in Brittany, as well as postwar reflections on battle fatigue, Ernie Pyle, and the writing of military history.
Pete Hamill, volume editor, is the author of 22 books, including News Is a Verb: Journalism at the End of the Twentieth Century and the novels Forever and North River. As a journalist he has reported on wars in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Lebanon, and Northern Ireland, written columns for several newspapers and magazines, and served as editor-in-chief of both the New York Post and the New York Daily News.
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