From: kip.stratton@ni.com
Date: 14 Feb 2000

> It got me wondering how many hard-boiled writers had been in
>combat. Of course, in the fifties, nine out of ten males over maybe
>thirty had been in the army. I was just curious if it
>was known of how many, specifically, wrote as a way of adjusting to civilian

Sorry, but I've been out of touch for a while. If someone has already answered this, please forgive my repeating the information. Hard-boiled writers with war records? Well, Willeford was a genuine hero during World War II, racking up a bunch of medals for his service as a tank commander during the Battle of the Bulge, if memory serves correctly. As I recall, he more or less rescued a number of trapped soldiers single-handedly. He ended his memoir, SOMETHING ABOUT A SOLDIER, before the beginning of the war. (I think it's an excellent companion piece, as a portrait of the old peace-time Army, for FROM HERE TO ETERNITY.) Willeford never talked about his own heroics much, as I understand it, and he certainly never wrote about them, saying that all of that had been adequately done by such writers as Jim Jones. I do, however, remember Willeford's talking about sadistic American GIs who used to offer to trade him bottles of liquor in exchange for German POWs so they could take the Germans out and shoot them for fun; you have to think the psychopathic characters Junior and Freddy from the Hoke series must have had their genesis in Willeford's exposure to such GIs. Undoubtedly, the Army and World War II heightened Willeford's appreciation for the absurd --- which, of course, is what makes his writing great.


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