Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front
by Todd DePastino. Norton, 2008, $27.95.
Willie and Joe brought the life of GIs in the foxholes of World War II to millions of Americans in a way no flesh and blood reality could. This was the reality of war, sketched in ink. The man who brought that reality home was a giant of American journalism—a cartoonist but a giant nonetheless. Todd DePastino’s biography traces the life of Mauldin in fine detail, based on access to voluminous correspondence, private papers and thousands of original drawings. While best known for his World War II reportage, Mauldin was a sharp social critic for decades after the war.
Working for the Chicago Sun Times, Mauldin went to Vietnam and was at Pleiku on February 7, 1965, finding himself right in the middle of one of the first major assaults on American ground forces in Vietnam, the only newsman to record images of the attack. DePastino has captured the essense of this important and complex American and his influence on a generation that was buffeted by war and trauma.
Originally published in the April 2009 issue of Vietnam Magazine. To subscribe, click here.