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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thank God for the Atom Bomb by Paul Fussell

The works of a brilliant essayist are a joy to read 

Paul Fussell
I admit, I was attracted to Thank God for the Atom Bomb because of the title. Our library had it featured on its web page with some excerpts and I was intrigued. I was not disappointed.

The title essay is simply brilliant. It is also caustic, blunt and nuanced. I'll refer to it before the next time I teach about World War II.

There are two more essays on World War II. I found the two essays on George Orwell to be most interesting. His commentary on the differences between tourism and travel reminded me of the Twain essays I've been reading lately. "Taking It All Off In The Balkans" is the account of his visit to a nudist resort in the former Yugoslavia - very funny and (I've got to say it) revealing.

Two essays were just not interesting to me, being mainly about poetry and I find myself unable to muster the interest to read poetry, let alone read extensive commentary on it. I skimmed those.

The essay on the 2nd Ammendment ("A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.") comes off as a poorly-researched rant as opposed to the well-researched arguments made in the Atom Bomb essays. It stands out in this collection for that reason.

The other oddball essay is my 2nd favorite (after the title essay). Fussell went to the Indy 500. Try to imagine an East Coast college professor who writes about poetry standing around Indy's infamous snakepit and the guys with the "Show us your t*ts" signs. Fussell's comments are quite observant and show that he really spent some time walking around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and getting a feel for racing in general. Having just attended my 24th Indy 500 six days ago I was especially interested in his comments. I would be most interested in seeing Fussell's thoughts at having more racial diversity in the fields and 3 women in the race nowadays.

I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.

This collection can be found on Amazon.com here: Thank God for the Atom Bomb by Paul Fussell

Reviewed on May 29, 2009.

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