Monday, May 12, 2014

Quit: "The Gentle Infantryman" by William Young Boyd

Quit: The Gentle Infantryman by William Young Boyd, 1985, 031232099x..

I was researching another author for work.  I was looking through an old Booklist, or something, and a review for this was alongside the article I was looking for.  The review was pretty good and the book sounded neat.  Hartford PL had a copy.  I ordered it over.

An 18-year-old infantry replacement joins the fight in Alsace, France in 1944.  He joins an anti-tank platoon and his gun is soon knocked out.  He continues fighting as an infantryman and mine layer through the winter.  The battle scenes and Army life talk was interesting.  The dialogue was awful and a real distraction.  I quit halfway through.

The conversation is stilted and formal with dramatic speeches from one soldier to another.  It was interesting to hear that the anti-tank gun crews would pull the guns around.  When up against German tanks they would quickly fire no more than three rounds and then haul ass to another position.  Otherwise the tanks would blow them apart.

The thing about the book is that there are tons of war memoirs covering the same topic.  Why read a book like this?  There is nothing in here different than nonfiction I've already read.  Young did not add anything else.  Turow had a nice WWII novel with a lawyer tracking down a rogue US spy/commando.  James R. Benn has Billy Boyle traveling around the European theater and Benn explores little known politics and events.  Infantry life in WWII is not a secret, it was a shit hole of terror and dirt as everyone waited to die.

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