William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Tuesday, 27, April, 2010

Happy Christmas

Filed under: Books,History — williamthecoroner @ 23:53

I just got a Christmas present to-day.  Sometimes these things take time to find, but I’m very pleased.  It’s a first edition with a dust jacket (which is why it was hard to find) of Up Front by Bill Mauldin–the cartoonist for the Stars and Stripes during WWII.  I’d read it before–and it is one of the better portrayals of life in the infantry by an eloquent young man.  Mauldin was drafted at eighteen, and wrote the book at age 23.  Reading it, it seems to have been written by a person older than that.  Wartime service must make a person grow up quickly.

I’m hoping to get a copy of Grossman’s On Killing shortly.  As a forensic person I’m pretty well familiar with the how and even the why.  Unhappily, most of the reasons are trivial or stupid.   How could you is another matter entirely, and I don’t know about that.

My first boss was a WWII veteran of the Coast Guard.  I kind of got the feeling that the war was his high point.  A great adventure that took him from Murmansk to Makin island and that was the most significant thing he ever did in his life.  He’s passed now, and he never explicitly said it nor did I ask.  I just got that feeling.  It is sobering to realize that at age 40, I’m considered too old to command a destroyer or submarine during WWII–and I’m old enough that my children could be drafted.


  1. On Killing is an excellent book, as is the followup On Combat.

    Have you read David Buss’s The Murderer Next Door? I’d be curious about your reaction. It strikes me as a bit too much in the “just-so evo-psych stories” category, but that doesn’t mean there’s no insight to be had.

    Comment by bluntobject — Wednesday, 28, April, 2010 @ 00:01 | Reply

  2. To a certain extent war (and surviving it) IS the high point of one’s life… an analogy would be the 16 year old Olympic Gold Medalist… what do they do next???

    Comment by Old NFO — Wednesday, 28, April, 2010 @ 06:05 | Reply

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