Apparently, war really IS hell…

Found myself back at Barnes & Noble again today, and remembered something else I took a picture of last week when I was there.

Above is a shot of one of the “New in History” shelves. OK, it’s slightly doctored. Hell in the Pacific was actually on a lower shelf and I moved it up to take this, but they were all in the same category.

Sometimes it seems that the only time “history” was happening was from 1939-45, the bookstore shelves are so dominated by that period. Or maybe it’s just because Father’s Day was coming up. In any case, it seemed that about 50 percent of all history books were about WWII, and another 40 percent was about other wars in which the United States was involved.

And I say that as a big fan of military history, and particularly the WWII period. But still, let’s have SOME perspective, people.

The least you could do is provide some variety in the titles. Does no one at the publishing house notice when it’s getting monotonous?

That is all, men. Smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em. This is my rifle; this is my gun. Off yer dead asses and on yer dyin’ feet. And other cliches of the era…

6 thoughts on “Apparently, war really IS hell…

  1. Burl Burlingame

    Geez, you’d think B&N would try to compete in quality with all those other big-chain bookstores out there..

  2. Brad

    I thought the “Assignment to Hell” title particularly inappropriate.

    It’s about newsmen assigned to cover WWII. The title implies it was a horrible assignment, but they dealt with it.

    Come on. It was the dream assignment of all time. If I could pick anything to cover from any time in history, covering WWII up close and personal would probably come in first place. And no, I don’t have any illusions about how tough it would be. No amount of hardship would change the fact that as a story, it beat anything else I can think of in the history of news coverage.

  3. Jen

    “ASSIGNMENT TO HELL” is a phrase that Walter Cronkite (one of the subjects of the book) coined during one of his reports from the front.

  4. Brad

    And if you didn’t live to tell it, well, it’s certainly better to go out covering the biggest story of the century, as opposed to, say, in a wreck on your way back from covering a zoning appeals board meeting.

    And yes, Jen — that’s where the phrase comes from. And if ever “assignment to hell” were accurately applied, it was the way Cronkite applied it — to describe a daylight bombing raid. I imagine it would be particularly stressful to be along as a passive observer. A pilot can take evasive action; gunners can shoot back at fighters. The correspondent can only watch those black puffs of flak walking toward him and feel the mounting fear.

    Still… the implication of the title that covering the war in general was an assignment to hell is one I question… except in this sense: The war itself was hell, and you were assigned to cover it. What I dispute is the suggestion I infer, that the author intends to suggest that it was something other than the greatest assignment of these guys’ lives.

    Perhaps I’m wrong to infer that that was the intent, or part of the intent, in using that quote as the title, but that’s what I got from it.

  5. Silence

    As a sometime zoning appeals board member, I resent your example. Things can get pretty hairy in there, let me tell you.

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