HIST 109 GCCCD Wartime Understanding & Behavior in The Second World War Discussion

Question Description

Must have Wartime Book!!!!!!!!

Paul Fussell, Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War. Oxford, 1989. ISBN 0-19-506577-8

Dr. Utgaard

Cuyamaca College

History 109 Modern American History

Discussion Questions and Paper Assignment for Paul Fussell’s Wartime

Paul Fussell was an infantry officer in the ETO (European Theatre of Operations) during World War II.After the war he became an English professor.His book Wartime is a unique combination of historical and literary analysis.The book focuses on American and British experiences. Take notes on the questions below as you read the book.Making some notes will help you understand the book and also prepare you for your paper assignment on Wartime. For each chapter, you should flag at least two examples!


Why do you think Fussell dedicated the book to his parents “who sent socks and books.”

What is the book about?

Chapter 1: From Light to Heavy Duty

What does Fussell mean by the shift from light to heavy duty?

Chapter 2: “Precision Bombing Will Win the War”

What was the difference between what air power promised and what air power was capable of during the war?

Chapter 3:Someone Had Blundered

What were some of the greatest blunders of the war?How did authorities deal with blunders and why?

Chapter 4:Rumors of War

Fussell writes: “Living in wartime thus resembled living in a play, with nothing real or certain.”What does he mean?What are some examples of war rumors Fussell discusses?

Chapter 5:School of the Soldier

What link does Fussell make between the language of education and military training?What does this chapter reveal about the creation of mass armies?

Chapter 6:Unread Books on a Shelf

What is meant by “unread books on a shelf?” How did the creation ofmass armies impact individuality?

Chapter 7: Chickenshit, An Anatomy

What is “chickenshit?”What role does “chickenshit” play in a mass army or any large bureaucratic organization for that matter?

Chapter 8:Drinking Far Too Much, Copulating Too Little

What role did alcohol play in the lives of the men in the mass armies of World War II?What kind of sexual relationships were possible given the nature of mass mobilization and overseas deployment?

Chapter 9: Type-casting

How were the Japanese, Germans, and Italians depicted during the war?What was the American self image?

Chapter 10:The Ideological Vacuum

Perhaps the most cynical and controversial chapter in the book, what does Fussell mean by an “ideological vacuum?”What motivated soldiers in the Allied armies?

Chapter 11:Accentuate the Positive

What role did language and public relations play in the war?

Chapter 12:High-mindedness

[optional]This chapter is challenging to understand without an extensive background in literature.Fussell looks at many examples and concludes that the demands of war had a major impact on literature and literary analysis.What was that impact?

Chapter 13:With One Voice

How did radio, film, and advertising contribute to a culture of conformity? What was the significance of the song “Roll Out the Barrel?”

Chapter 14:Deprivation

What kinds of goods were rationed on the home front?What was the difference between wartime rationing in the United States compared to Great Britain?

Chapter 15:Compensation

[optional]This chapter is heavy on literary analysis.Whatkinds of works were produced during the war that Fussell considers very good?

Chapter 16:Reading in Wartime

What kinds of books did American and British soldiers read during the war?What do the reading choices of Americans and British reveal about their culture?

Chapter 17:Fresh Idiom

What is meant by “fresh idiom?”What are some examples of new language and vocabulary that was invented by servicemen during the war?

Chapter 18: “The Real War Will Never Get in the Books”

What does Fussell emphasize as the radical difference between the experiences of front-line troops, rear echelon troops, and [American] civilians during the war?How were wartime experiences reflected in some key postwar memoirs?What is significant about Fussell ending with a reference to Eisenhower’s prepared D-Day failure statement (that he never had to make)?

Paper Assignment.100 points.

Write a 2.5-3-page paper on one of the prompts below.Your paper must use at least six specific examples from at least three different chapters.This is a one source paper.Only use the book Wartime.Do not include additional sources.Paper is due on Sunday 8 November.

Use page number citations for direct quotes and also for specific references!!!!This is how you cite sources:

Example 1:Fussell explains how soldiers were subject to the arbitrary power that could make their lives miserable.They called it “chickenshit.”“Chickenshit can be recognized instantly because it never has anything to do with winning the war.”(80)

Example 2:Fussell explains how soldiers had to put up with “chickenshit.”By this he means the petty rules and indignities that don’t really help win the war.(80)

In the first example I directly quoted so I used a page number reference.In the second example, I paraphrased his idea, but I still use a page number reference.

Paper Prompts.Base your paper on one of these questions.

1.What does Fussell’s book reveal about being an individual in a mass army?What pressures to conform did servicemen feel?How much control did they have over their lives?In what ways did they cope and/or rebel?

2.What are some of the major differences between the way the war was experienced and the way the war was portrayed in, film, advertising, etc?

3.Mass mobilization and the war created new experiences that had an impact on the English language.What were some of the ways that the war impacted language and literature in the English-speaking countries?What new words and phrases came into the English language?

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