Growing Up in the Wartime Army: A Gi in the 1940's

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9780897451130: Growing Up in the Wartime Army: A Gi in the 1940's
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Book by Hope, Cliff, Jr.

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This memoir could, without sarcasm, be subtitled "Andy Hardy Goes to War." Cliff Hope emerges from its pages as an exemplar of small-town, middle-western virtues even though his father was a senior member of the Kansas' delegation to the House of Representatives. Hope's retrospective self-criticism for ,'my adolescent attitude and my less-than-admirable attributes as a soldier" are not really justified by the text. His letters and diary present instead a decent, earnest young man whose everyday behavior and minor vices were perfectly normal for his age and station. There is no doubt that Hope regards his army service as a key factor in his personal maturation. But the nature of that service was crucial. Private Cliff Hope was what cartoonist Bill Mauldin called a "garritrooper": someone too far forward to wear a necktie and too far back to get shot, or at least to face an everyday risk of getting shot. Hope fought his war in a Field Artillery Observation Battalion, a target-locating unit that was usually attached to an army corps. It was an assignment involving constant hardship and just enough danger to make the experience special. It was, in other words, an ideal matrix for the male rite of passage Hope describes himself as undergoing. To be culturally successful such rites must combine rigorous, demanding tests with a high rate of physical survival and a low level of psychic scarring. World War II fulfilled these criteria for an overwhelming number of Americans who served in it. They were removed from familiar surroundings, sent thousands of miles from home, and placed in situations of stress and discomfort that nevertheless, except to the relatively small numbers in front-line combat units, offered limited threats to life and spirit. They returned to civilian life socialized into their society rather than alienated from it, affirming rather than challenging their experiences while in uniform. Seen in this context Hope's memoir is useful for establishing the mentalite' of Cold War America as well as a statement of personal development. -- From Independent Publisher

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Hope, Cliff, Jr.
Published by Sunflower Univ Pr (1989)
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