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Up Front

4.39  ·  Rating Details  ·  882 Ratings  ·  65 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, 240 pages
Published December 28th 2000 by W.W. Norton & Company (first published 1945)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,486)
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Aug 28, 2011 Thomas rated it liked it
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
Mary Catelli
This is a semi-humorous work about the war.

The cartoons are indeed funny, sometimes with an edge, but the text of the work is about the army life in World War II. Ranges all over. How the men in the army didn't hate the Germans until they got there, and never got passion the Europeans did -- though there were some who did (he cites an exiled German), and some who just loved the fighting (whose peacetime occupations were swamp hunter and mafia bodyguard). Dugouts and barns (especially the hay). H
Nov 04, 2010 Haydon rated it it was amazing
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
Jim Morris
Apr 29, 2014 Jim Morris rated it it was amazing
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
Alice  Wallace Roth
Jan 08, 2016 Alice Wallace Roth rated it really liked it
The copy of the book I read belongs to my father and was printed in 1946. He recommended it to me to gain further insight into World War II. It did give me a bit of that. I have a lot to learn about the realities of any war, but the cartoons, as well as the commentary, gave me a bit of an education that went beyond the more entertaining movies and documentaries I've watched. This was obviously written by someone who was there "in the trenches" literally. I liked the book for these reasons, but I ...more
Aug 20, 2014 Wanda rated it really liked it
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
Connie D
Feb 06, 2016 Connie D rated it really liked it
This is a gritty, absolutely real account of life up front during World War II, written, cartooned and published during the war. The version I read was especially wonderful because the paper was extremely thin,cheap material, showing the era when it was printed.

I've seen Mauldin's cartoons before, but didn't understand many of them until he explained them here. His is the rawest, most straight-forward description of life as a U.S. "dogface" (infantry soldier) during WWII that I've ever read, bu
Mar 01, 2015 Claudia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-challenge
There is some strong language in this book. Up Front by Bill Mauldin takes the reader back to the frontline of World War II. Bill Mauldin was a cartoonist for Stars and Stripes during WWII. While many from this generation may not recognize his name or his drawings, his work was very well known to the soldiers of WWII. I remember seeing this book on my dad's bookshelf when I was young, which was why I bought it when I saw it at the used book store. Bill Mauldin gives a first person account of the ...more
Judy Tate
Apr 30, 2014 Judy Tate rated it it was amazing
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
Lexie Graham
Aug 20, 2015 Lexie Graham rated it really liked it
We had this book in the house when I was growing up (as did many in the 1940s and 50s). I remember looking at all the cartoons and ignoring the text so I thought I'd rectify that. The text is a great fresh voice of a young man in his early twenties who was an infantryman as well as a Stars & Sripes cartoonist. The text fleshes out the story of his two iconic characters Willie and Joe, the everymen of the WWII foot soldier. It was published in 1945 and provided those on the Homefront with a p ...more
Shawn Robison
Dec 21, 2011 Shawn Robison rated it it was amazing
"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
Apr 30, 2015 Josiah Hawkins rated it really liked it
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
Dave Jones
Aug 23, 2014 Dave Jones rated it really liked it
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
Aug 22, 2013 Michael Burnam-fink rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, war, 2013
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
Jul 27, 2009 Charles rated it it was amazing
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 &
Two-fisted History
Feb 07, 2014 Two-fisted History rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 28, 2016 Linda rated it really liked it
It was in our house for years, and I never did anything but look at the pictures. Now I understand why it was so very popular.
May 18, 2010 Kbord rated it really liked it
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.

Apr 16, 2012 Professor rated it it was amazing
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
Nef Apps
I own the copy my father gave me, after WWII - it's rich with period sarcasm and dry gritty humor.
Mar 17, 2012 Ensiform rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, war
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
Jan 20, 2015 Lynne rated it really liked it
This book covers Bill Mauldin. This is a unique snapshot of this time period.
Charles Gray
Jun 10, 2014 Charles Gray rated it it was amazing
I learned a lot about WW II that I never knew before.
Mar 23, 2016 Jhs4 added it
A trip back in time. Very interesting.
Oct 20, 2008 Joel rated it really liked it
Shelves: military-history
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
Apr 19, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, wwii
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.
Nov 13, 2014 KennyO rated it it was amazing
The truth of the combat soldier lies in these pages. It's a wry humor that overlays the horrible reality of war at the front.
Apr 08, 2012 John rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 01, 2011 Sara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-stars
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.
Jun 10, 2010 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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.

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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.” 15 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.” 6 likes
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