Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front

Todd DePastino, Author . Norton $27.95 (370p) ISBN 978-0-393-06183-3

Historian DePastino (Citizen Hobo ) eloquently memorializes cartoonist Bill Mauldin, who won fame as “the leading spokesman for the American combat soldier” during World War II, in this authoritative biography. Mauldin (1921–2003) grew up in Depression-era New Mexico in a dysfunctional family. After studying at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts for one year, he joined the newly mobilized 45th Infantry Division of the Arizona National Guard. Mauldin then became the 45th Division News ’s cartoonist. Deployed to North Africa in 1943, Mauldin participated in the invasions of Sicily and Italy. In 1944, while on staff at the GI newspaper Stars and Stripes , Mauldin created his signature characters, the weary and disheveled infantrymen Willie and Joe. Willie and Joe became soldiers’ heroes and anathema to brass such as Gen. George Patton, who threatened to throw Mauldin in jail for his characters’ indolence. After the war, Mauldin published bestselling cartoon collections, worked briefly as an actor, ran unsuccessfully for Congress and ended his career with two Pulitzer Prizes for editorial cartooning. Thoroughly researched and sprightly written, DePastino’s balanced biography is a solid introduction to an American original. Classic Mauldin cartoons are an entertaining bonus. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/12/2007
Release date: 02/01/2008
Paperback - 370 pages - 978-0-393-33488-3
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-393-06957-0
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