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Up Front

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4.39 of 5 stars 4.39  ·  rating details  ·  611 ratings  ·  55 reviews
The real war," said Walt Whitman, "will never get in the books." During World War II, the truest glimpse most Americans got of the "real war" came through the flashing black lines of twenty-two-year-old infantry sergeant Bill Mauldin. Week after week, Mauldin defied army censors, German artillery, and Patton's pledge to "throw his ass in jail" to deliver his wildly popular ...more
Hardcover, 228 pages
Published December 28th 2000 by W.W. Norton & Company (first published 1945)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 953)
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Thomas
I've got a first edition of this book owned by my Grandfather, dated 1945. Due to his age he was not in the military during World War II. But his next door neighbor was ten or so years younger than he and had been a U.S. Army infantry sergeant in the European Theater from the invasion of North Africa until the war ended. So it was him I associated with Mauldin's drawings.

When I was a kid the book fascinated me, mostly because it reprinted the cartoons Mauldin had drawn for Stars and Stripes, th
...more
Haydon
Up Front is a phenomenal book about a man in the WW2 fighting but also writing comics about it too. Bill Mauldin makes the book funny and interesting to read. Bill talks about World War 2 and what is happening and how difficult the war is, but he also tells how the men entertain themselves and how they have fun every now and then. Bill Mauldin also fought in the war he wasn’t just a person that draws cartoons that is why his cartoons are so well written because he was in the war.
This is one of
...more
Jim Morris
Great doesn't really describe how wonderful and important this book is. It should be required reading in all leadership courses, both military and civilian. It's funny; it's heartbreaking. I read this book six times in the sixth grade and probably another six times since. It influenced my life and continues to do so. All those captions I kept in mind through a military career, and they led me to better leadership than would have been the case otherwise. It's possible this book saved my life. God ...more
Wanda
This was my grandfather's book. His favorite cartoon was the one of the sergeant covering his eyes as he points his .45 at his disabled Jeep. He would guffaw out loud every time he looked at it. I didn't get it.
A lot of others I didn't get either, when I was a kid. But after I grew up and had been out in the world some, I started to see how funny they were, even divorced from their historical context of WW2, and even divorced from their life in the armed forces context.
My favorite, which for a
...more
Judy Tate
The writing got boring, Mauldin just went on and on about how bad the war was and how mistreated the soldiers were. YES, they were mistreated, the war was horrible, and officers were often unfair and unwilling to learn. But you don't have to repeat it over and over. I gave it 5 stars for the cartoons, which is what the book is supposed to be about. Willie & Joe are my favorite military guys. The wit is sharp and the humor is dark, but you laugh in spite of yourself when Joe tells Willie : "I ...more
Shawn Robison
"Some say the American soldier is the same clean-cut young man who left his home; others say morale is sky-high at the front because everybody's face is shining for the great cause. They are wrong. The combat man isn't the same clean-cut lad because you don't fight a kraut by Marquis of Queensberry rules. You shoot him in the back, you blow him apart with mines, you kill or maim him the quickest and most effective way you can with the least danger to yourself. He does the same to you. He tricks ...more
Josiah Hawkins
Part of the Cardboard Archives, the books my Dad left me in a Cardboard Box labeled: Fragile! War Books


I actually was fortunate enough to read the first edition from 1945. I think that the book is not only remarkably funny but also an interesting selection of stories that tell what it was like to be a standard issue GI.

Mauldin tells it like it is, he explains what its like to be in combat and (what I thought was most interesting) the thoughts that go through a "dog face's" mind. The biggest thi
...more
Dave Jones
Picked up this book out of my dad's old library at home. Even over 70 years have passed since it was written but it is still just as wonderful and enjoyable. Nice words and drawings about the humble American GI back in the European theater of World War II.
Michael Burnam-fink
The essays and cartoons in this book are an American treasure.

I've read a lot of books about war, but this is the truest one. Bill Mauldin was a soldier in WW2 who saw action in North Africa, Italy, and France. An infantryman with a talent for drawing, he was selected for the 45th Division paper and then Stars & Stripes, where his "Willie and Joe" cartoons became instant classics, depicting the truth of life on the front lines, where ordinary men struggled through mud, bad food, long marches
...more
Charles
Here's an example of a book that I'd forgotten to list on my "read" lists until I saw a mention of a new Mauldin book of Mauldin's stuff that had just come out. But the moment I saw the cover of this one I remembered it. It's one of the many I borrowed from my Brother-in-law when I was a kid. And after ordering a copy and getting it, I looked through and saw all the cartoons I remember very well.

This is truly a wonderful book. It tells Bill Mauldin's story in WWII as a cartoonist for Stars &
...more
Two-fisted History
I was fortunate enough to have received my copy as a gift. The individual who found my first edition, found it in a used book store and it has had a place of honour in my collection since.
Kbord
Bill Mauldin wrote comics for a soldiers' newspaper in Europe during World War II. The book is about that experience, as well as the experiences of soldiers in general in the European theatre. Several cartoons of infantrymen ("dogfaces") Willie and Joe appear with the text.

I enjoy World War II history, so that's one reason for the high rating.

This is a small book, easy to read. I got it at a book sale at the local school. I like to pick up old-looking books and decided to actually buy this one.

C
...more
Professor
A completely falling apart paperback came through the library as a donation and it sparked my interest. I took it with me on a short trip and read it in a day. Very readable, with Mauldin's excellent joe and Willie cartoons accompanied by text explaining the context and Mauldlin's take on the war-which was still going on when the book was published. Mauldin was stationed in Italy and southern France, two theaters I know next to nothing about, and it's always interesting to get some perspective f ...more
Ensiform
The famous WWII cartoonist’s book about the life of a “dogface.” Written in 1944 when Mauldin was still a sergeant stationed in France, and liberally decorated with his cartoons, it’s an eye-opening look at how front-line soldiers feel, think and act. Mauldin’s a terrific reporter as well as a cartoonist; this is a valuable time capsule of the “Greatest Generation.” The last few pages in particular, in which Mauldin witnesses two medics assisting a boy who’s been grievously wounded, are stirring ...more
Charles Gray
I learned a lot about WW II that I never knew before.
Joel
Mauldin was an actual soldier. He was soldier journalist. He did it with class and style, he did it with more art than words. His cartoons are the famous soldiers you think of when you think of World War II cartoon soldiers, he's the guy behind the pencil. Pyle surpasses him in prose, but though Pyle was loved by the soldiers there is just no replacement for an actual soldier sharing in the hell with you and relating it back to the papers. This is an excellent book about and by Bill Mauldin and ...more
Nancy
I read this in preparation to reading a biography of the author. This is part of an effort to get a "feel" for world war II from the point of view of the ordinary soldier. If you are interested in this perspective, this is a good book.

I found it interesting that I didn't "get" all the cartoons Mauldin included here. Even with the written narrative, I think I am too far removed. Nonetheless, I do understand the perspective of the infantry soldier better now.
John
This is an absolutely amazing book. Bill Mauldin wrote it while still in the United States infantry where he was also doing his cartoons for the Stars & Stripes. Not only are they funny but well drawn. And all this while he was in the field! Being shot at! (Okay, he probably wasn't being shot at WHILE drawing them but still...) It is also an excellent look at what it was REALLY like to be in the infantry in World War II.
Sara
I loved this novel. Written by a comic artist who went to war, we get his version of the war, from a soldiers point of view and also from the point of view of a comedian. His stories were so... readable. I couldn't put it down. I'm not the type to read a war story but he made it entertaining and interesting. I have recommended this book to everyone I know. It's a great, great novel.
John
Before I read this book I had only seen a few of the famous Willie and Joe cartoons. This book was loaded with 161 of them along with a very accurate portrait of life in the infantry in Italy and France during WW2. Great little book and a first edition to boot. another interesting thing is that Maudlin was only 23 at the time. I often forget just how young many of the armed forces were.
Bradley
Amazingly detailed up front essays on being an infantryman at Anzio in Italy and in France during the later years of WWII. Coupled with many of Mauldin's best cartoons from Stars and Stripes and his completion of the book while storming a beach in southern France, this book was an amazing piece of history and an amazing find by my father-in-law at a book sale.
Collin
This book was a funny, quick read. Mauldin was an American soldier in WWII, specifically the in the European theater in Italy. The book is about how he went about creating these cartoons. The cartoons are are about the grunts at the frontline or as the author calls them, the "Doggies". He discusses what it's like to be up front as an infantry soldier.
Adrian
This is one of my favorite books. Bill Mauldin was a cartoonist with the 45th Division News and later Stars and Stripes. But the book is more than background of his Willie and Joe cartoons but a real observation of men in a desperate situation including terrifying combat but also the sheer drudgery and pettiness of the army. Outstanding book.
Jane Davis
I got my paper back Bantam Book in 1953. I covered it with contact plastic which is now sticky and yellow. The pages are yellow and fragile but it is 260 pages of great stuff. The name and the area of the war may change but somethings do not change for a GI. Bill Mauldin sat in his foxhole or where ever and made us all laugh.
P.J. Sullivan
As a cartoonist, I know how hard it is to draw a good cartoon. Bill Mauldin drew these gems while following an army in the thick of World War II. An amazing feat! His Willie and Joe are classic stereotypes. He presents their plight as it was, muddy, grimy, unglamorous. His own living conditions were probably not much better.
Nathan
Fascinating book. The author admits to writing the book only as a framework for the art. However, the text gave so much additional insight into the cartoons, it was easy overlook the simplicity of the writing. It gave me a broader appreciation for WWII soliders and the everyday issues they faced while fighting.
Stephen
I was expecting to learn what it was like to be a cartoonist from this book, but instead I learned more about WWII history and what it was like to be in the military. It wasn't the best read in history, but I will always respect the cartoonist who stood his ground in a face-off with Patton.
Jake
I didnt think that this book was very good. It wasnt fast enough, it didnt keep me reading. When I read this book it was really hard to keep reading and not to stop, so I dont recomend this book to anybody.

I didnt really learn anything from this book. This book is a Alternative History.
Pat
Excellent book describing life in Italy and France for American soldiers during World War II--focusing on the "dog-faced" infantry. Book includes the cartoons Mauldin created that were published in "Stars & Stripes" during the war. A very good, honest, and heartfelt description of his army life.
Erik Graff
Apr 28, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: veterans
Recommended to Erik by: Einar Graff
Shelves: art
This was one of the books in Dad's library when I was growing up. First, I just looked at the pictures. Later, I read the text, thinking of what the war had been like for Dad who had served in both theaters: in the Atlantic, the Pacific, in Asia, Oceana, Africa and Europe.
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141954
William Henry "Bill" Mauldin was a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist from the United States. He was most famous for his World War II cartoons depicting American soldiers, as represented by the archetypal characters Willie and Joe. These cartoons were broadly published and distributed in the American army abroad and in the United States.

More about Bill Mauldin...
Willie and Joe: The WWII Years Bill Mauldin's Army: Bill Mauldin's Greatest World War II Cartoons Back Home The Brass Ring A Sort of a Saga

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“A soldier's life revolves around his mail. Like many others, I've been able to follow my kid's progress from the day he was born until now he is able to walk and talk a little, and although I have never seen him I know him very well.” 12 likes
“When you lose a friend [in battle] you have an overpowering desire to go back home and yell in everybody's ear, "This guy was killed fighting for you. Don't forget him--ever. Keep him in your mind when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night. Don't think of him as the statistic which changes 38,788 casualties to 38,789. Think of him as a guy who wanted to live every bit as much as you do. Don't let him be just one of 'Our Brave Boys' from the old home town, to whom a marble monument is erected in the city park, and a civic-minded lady calls the newspaper ten years later and wants to know why that 'unsightly stone' isn't removed.” 5 likes
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