Bill Mauldin bio takes you up front

Bill Mauldin biography

Bill Mauldin biography

I have more books stashed at home than I will live to read, so I always get a sinking feeling when someone lends me one I don’t have. Inside I’m thinking, hoo boy, another book to read that I’d rather not.

That’s how I reacted this year when my friend Dick Musselman of the Lehigh Valley Veterans History Project handed me Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front, a 2008 biography of the famed GI cartoonist by Todd DePastino. The author had signed it for Dick, with a nice message about Dick’s efforts at keeping veterans’ stories alive.

Dick told me DePastino is also passionate about preserving vets’ stories – he cofounded the Veterans Breakfast Club in Pittsburgh, where he lives – and that he was sending DePastino a copy of my book, War Stories: In Their Own Words, published last fall by The Morning Call.

Well, that softened me. So when I finished reading Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, I decided to pick up Bill Mauldin, and if I didn’t care for it, I’d just skip through it and look at all the cartoons. It wasn’t a book I would’ve reached out to pick up, because I wasn’t really interested in knowing all about Mauldin.

I read every word.

DePastino tells the story of Mauldin’s life deftly and with great insight. He drives home the travails of the lowly foot soldiers in the mud and how Mauldin identified with them and reflected their highs and lows. In one section I particularly enjoyed, he runs through the tension between Mauldin and Audie Murphy as they were filming The Red Badge of Courage. It’s a wonderful tribute to the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner.

I emailed DePastino last week and told him how much I liked his book. He sent me a gracious message the next day, asking how the writing was going on my book about my cousin who was killed in Vietnam. It turns out DePastino teaches a college course on the Vietnam War. He recommended The Father of All Things by Tom Bissell as a guide. (Oh geez, another book to read.)

That reminds me.  I have to return Bill Mauldin to Dick Musselman – and thank him.

2 responses to “Bill Mauldin bio takes you up front

  1. Hello,

    I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could email me?

    I look forward to hearing from you,



  2. Life is not infinite. Of course, this is a common truth, but do we always remember about it? How can we find out the meaning of life staying at the same place? They say if you don’t like the place where you are – move, you’re not a tree after all. By the same tenet, I want to say that traveling – is an important component of interesting life. Let’s not waste life without avail but explore this wonderful world! It remains to take a step, just click world’s wonders and you will see all the riches of our world which are near to us. Very often various natural anomalies are just close to us, but we can’t find time for knowing the world. Start reading not fashion books but brochures with ancient legends. A well known poem says “What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare…” Let’s change our life!


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