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Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  72 ratings  ·  23 reviews
“A deeply felt, vivacious and wonderfully illustrated biography.” —Clancy Sigal, Los Angeles Times Book Review

A self-described “desert rat” who rocketed to fame at the age of twenty-two, Bill Mauldin used flashing black brush lines and sardonic captions to capture the world of the American combat soldier in World War II. His cartoon dogfaces, Willie and Joe, appeared in S
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Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 11th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published February 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-28 of 124)
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Paul
I was always aware of what a fantastic cartoonist Mauldin was, but to be honest my knowledge of him ceased with the end of World War II and his "Willie and Joe" cartoons, so I was completely unaware (oh...let's call it ignorant) of what a feisty little bastard he continued to be after the war, how his cartoons helped fight discrimination, and government corruption, and so much more.

After reading this book I had a good deal more respect for Maudlin and his methodology of jumping onto fires to se
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Kathleen Hulser
Who knew that he was part Chiricahua Apache? Mauldin's crazy family and childhood are riveting, especially since he was essentially a child when he did his most famous drawings. It is particularly revealing to see his relations with the famous commanders (Patton persecuted him for undermining discipline, whereas Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower thought he was straight forward, honest and good for ordinary soldiers).
Bob
On Saturday, Nov. 23, 1963, the back page of the Chicago Sun-Times carried what may be the most memorable editorial cartoon of the 20th century.

Cartoonist Bill Mauldin’s drawing of a weeping Abraham Lincoln from his Lincoln Memorial chair captured the emotion of a nation when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

That Mauldin was able to get to the core of human feelings shouldn’t have been surprising to those who had been able to literally be in the foxholes with soldiers during World War
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Jonah Miller
The authors purpose in this book is to both inform and entertain. It informs you of Bill Maudin's life as a child, growing up and being poor, becoming a cartoonist, joining the military, and much more. This book entertains by the explanation of his life. I find much interest in veteran biographies. That is a reason why I would consider this book was made to inform and entertain. The point of view is first person by using the words "I" and other such words.

The theme of this book is that you can g
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Jeremy Mcafee
If you enjoy an action packed story that is filled with humor then Bill Mauldin: A Life up Front by Todd DePastino is for you. The book is biography of Bill Mauldin who was a cartoonist during the Second World War. I believe Depastino wrote this book to inform. He wanted to inform the world about the great life of Bill Mauldin. The author tries to relay the message that all lives are amazing in their own way. He shows this when he talks about Mauldin’s travels around Europe and Italy drawing ca ...more
David Schwinghammer
BILL MAULDIN: A LIFE UP FRONT begins with thousands of WWII veterans coming to see Bill at a nursing home in California where he is suffering from Alzheimer's. He stares off into space until one of them pins a medal on him; then his eyes light up.

Author DePastino then shows us how Bill moved from a hell-raising kid living on a mountain in New Mexico to STARS AND STRIPES cartoonist and premier morale booster of World War II. DePastino shows us Mauldin's undaunted will to succeed. Prior to WWII, h
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Mark
While I prefer reading autobiographies to biographies. But, I've always been intrigued by Bill Mauldin. When I found this book on the library 'for sale' rake I couldn't resist picking it up for a dollar. I also knew I was the only one to read a large section of this particular book because a bundle of it's pages were improperly set, and thus were folded rather than cut at the top. I used an exacto knife to free the pages. Cutting into the pages set the tone for the book. You don't get anything w ...more
Nancy
This is an interesting and easy to read biography, but I found it a little disappointing. It seemed incomplete. On page 242 the year is 1949 and Bill is 28. The remaining 53 years of his life are covered in just 83 pages. Since he didn't just crawl into a cave after WWII, his later work and life deserved better coverage.
Beth
Bill Mauldin was a soldier and political cartoonist, who became known in WWII for his cartoons in Stars and Stripes. His characters, Willie and Joe, represented the enlisted men, and he focused on some of the struggles that they faced, including putting up with the military's own hierarchy. His cartoons showed these soldiers realistically as exhausted and dirty, and readers got a sense (albeit a small one) about how brutal the war was. Gen Patton objected to these images and tried to stop him fr ...more
Tom
This book does an excellent job of showing how Bill Mauldin went from a war cartoonist to a prominent figure in the editorial pages, and how complicated his feelings were with his own fame and trying to be a voice for the common combat soldier while never truly being part of the infantry. It also delved into his often rocky personal life. Especially as he aged, he seemed to be prickly and not a terrible good spouse.

It starts with discussing Mauldin's rather itinerant upbringing in the southwest
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Bookmarks Magazine

Every critic who reviewed A Life Up Front welcomed this biography; apart from Mauldin's own memoir, Back Home (1947), it is the first full-length biography of the man. Because DePastino was the first to provide such a work, critics were inclined to be forgiving even when they found failings, such as a focus on career over personal life. The book's sympathetic subject and engaging illustrations couldn't have hurt either. While a few reviewers suspected DePastino of hero worship, they also appreci

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Richard
I've been familiar with Bill Mauldin's name forever due to the annual mention of him in the Peanuts comic strip every Veterans Day. I became aware that he was a legendary World War II cartoonist, but until I read this biography, I knew little else about him.

The book, I think, is at its best when it displays Mauldin's cartoons with annotations beneath them; it gives us a chance to see his work and get a feel for its context. Much of Mauldin's WWII work hasn't aged well in that it's hard to "get"
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Kurt
Little remembered today, but one of the biggest celebrities coming out of WWII because of his groundbreaking cartoons, Bill Mauldin deserves to be remembered. In many ways, his earnest and honest yet still humorous takes on the life of the front line soldier helped generate the modern political cartoon and his influence can be seen even in today's grapic novels. A hero to every GI suffering the indignities of warfare and army idiocy, his postwar career was uneven until settling in to being an aw ...more
Megargee
This is a full biography of Bill Mauldin, a wild kid from the wrong side of the tracks, who became a prize winning cartoonist for Stars and Stripes in WW II. Willie and Joe, his unshaven GIs, became the anti-authoritarian voices of the dog faces. An outraged Patton often tried to stifle Mauldin, but Ike intervened. As in Andy Rooney's My War, Mauldin's perspective was not grand strategy but the individual GIs in their mudfilled faxholes.
This book, which depicts Mauldin warts and all, is illus
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Rob Lightner
This charming book highlights the life of a man I'd only heard about through occasional Peanuts cartoons. I suppose I had dimly known that Bill Mauldin was a WWII cartoonist, but I had no idea that he was a tireless fighter on behalf of ordinary people, changing the structure of the US military and then taking on McCarthyism, segregation, Vietnam and even the Gulf War before retiring in semi-obscurity. He was no saint, but his shenanigans were typically more impish than devilish and he seems to ...more
Belinda Elizondo
Terrific book about a fascinating subject! He lead a rough and tumble life while growing up fast in the foothills of New Mexico. His experiences came in handy when he joined the Army. Here he became famous at 19 as a cartoonist for the Army, a spokesperson for the enlisted men in the field. He had to deal with fame at an early age. Hobnobbed with movie stars and literary celebrities. As he matured he became a noted editorial cartoonist and winner of 2 Pulitzer prizes. There was so much about him ...more
Carol Storm
Absolutely wonderful book -- the riveting true story of a brash Indian kid who grew up in grinding poverty in the American Southwest, only to gain lasting fame and the honor of his brothers in arms for creating the legendary WILLIE AND JOE cartoons during World War II.

I loved this book. Every page had something funny, unexpected or shocking. Bill Mauldin was a modern Huck Finn -- rebellious, outspoken, defiant, with enormous compassion for the downtrodden and no fear of authority at all. Magnif
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Margaret Sankey
DePastino delivers a candid and thorough biography of Bill Mauldin, product of a wildly dysfunctional family and the Great Depression even before he ended up in the slog of the Italian campaign--and how these experiences translated overall into Willie and Joe, his difficult relationship with military authorities, how specific experiences translated into cartoons, and his long remaining career as a left-leaning political cartoonist post-war (and his unsuccessful move to translate Willie and Joe i ...more
Kathy
A comprehensive biography of Bill Mauldin the noted cartoonist who rose to fame with Willie and Joe during WWII. Begins with his birth and wild teen age years in New Mexico and ends with his death in 2003. He always liked to draw and sort of pushed his way into cartooning for the Army news when he was a recruit. The best part of the book is the many cartoons that are scattered throughout the book. There is a liberal helping of Willie and Joe but my favorite is the weeping Abraham Lincoln at the ...more
Dave
If you're already a fan of Mauldin's hilarious yet brutally honest World War II cartoons, this biography paints a good, though not complete, picture of his life. If you're not familiar with Mauldin's work, check it out first— Fantagraphics has an amazing collection of his cartoons coming out in March.
Frederick
I'm loving this so far. This book strikes just the right tone. Mauldin drew cartoons about army life in World War Two. The cartoons were for an audience of soldiers. Todd DePastino seems to understand the era. I suspect I'll like the whole book. I'll tell you more when I'm finished reading it.
Dana Stabenow
I loved Mauldin's autobiography, The Brass Ring, so naturally I have to read this.

Note added when I finished it--Good read, and probably more inclusive and more truthful than his own, but his is much more fun.
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Todd DePastino is the author of BILL MAULDIN: A LIFE OF FRONT (W.W. Norton) and editor of WILLIE & JOE: THE WWII YEARS (Fantagraphics Books). He teaches at Waynesburg University and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania."
More about Todd DePastino...
Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America The Road Willie and Joe: The WWII Years Commissioned in Battle: A Combat Infantryman in the Pacific, WWII

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