March 2012

Book Look: Willie & Joe: Back Home

A look at the collection of Bill Mauldin's "Back Home" cartoons


We have all seen the photo in his dress blues smooching a nurse in white as everyone in New York City’s Time’s Square parties hardy upon the news that the war with Japan –and World War 2 as a whole-was now over.

Contrast this image with the Bill Mauldin cartoon reproduced in this book where two bearded, hollow-eyed combat veterans (plus a clean-shaven one with equally hollow eyes) just back home on a pier listen to a civilian gush about the pleasures of V-J Day and how they should have been there for it.  The look in the combat men’s eyes speak volumes about the point argued by Todd DePastino in his introduction to this book: none of the American military personnel out partying on V-J such as the sailor in the famous photo had ever been overseas, much less been in combat; and that the few combat men home did not go out and join the party due to survivor’s guilt.

Book Look: Event 1000

A taste of David Lavallee's undersea pulse-pounder

David Lavallee points out in the author’s note at the start of his novel that the US Navy calls its rehersal for undersea rescue operations “Exercise 1000”; should a real rescue mission occur, the designation will change to “Event 1000.”  Thus explaining where the title of the book comes from.

Lavallee walked the walk and talked the talk as both a US Navy submariner and a deep sea diver, giving each and every page of this submarine yarn a crackling authenticity that is unimpeachable.

Book Look: Willie And Joe: The WWII Years

The definitive collection of Bill Mauldin's wartime cartoons

Every time I mention his cartoons to WWII vets, he gets nothing but praise, yet Bill Mauldin did not get off to an easy start as a cartoonist, nor did he always draw just for the fabled Stars and Stripes newspaper.

Edited and with an informative introduction giving a capsule history of his life by biographer Todd DePastino, Willie and Joe: The WWII years gives readers the whole enchilada of Bill’s cartoons ranging from the first ones he ever got published (mostly Indian-related wit for Arizona Highways) to the last one to appear in Stars and Stripes before Bill returned to civilian life.