cover image Writers on World War II

Writers on World War II

Richler Mordecai. Alfred A. Knopf, $30 (727pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57258-1

This treasure trove of letters, stories, essays, poems, selections from diaries and journals, and excerpts from novels covers WW II from seemingly every conceivable angle. (Note: very few of the entries have to do with combat per se). Divided by year, the anthology begins with the reactions of various writers to the German invasion of Poland in 1939 and concludes with William Manchester's majestic account of the surrender ceremony abroad the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay; in between, readers will find Harrison Salisbury on the siege of Leningrad, Primo Levi on life in the concentration camps, I. F. Stone on FDR's death. There are also well-chosen excerpts from the novels of Kurt Vonnegut, Nicholas Monsarrat, Olivia Manning, Hiroyuki Agawa, Evelyn Waugh and others. Lots of surprises throughout: George Orwell's review of Mein Kampf ; John Costello's essay on ``emergency'' or ``deprivation'' homosexual love in wartime; George Bernard Shaw's letter to Churchill offering tactical suggestions. Others represented include Noel Coward, Yukio Mishima, Janet Flanner, Gunter Grass, Martha Gellhorn, Jean-Paul Sartre, Anatoli Kuznetzov, Virginia Woolf, Peter Ustinov, Heinrich Boll. BOMC alternate. (Dec.)