A beautiful reckoning with the life and work of the legendary journalist Ernie Pyle, who gave World War II a human face for millions of Americans even as he wrestled with his own demons
At the height of his fame and influence during World War II, Ernie Pyle’s nationally syndicated dispatches from combat zones shaped America’s understanding of what the war felt like to ordinary soldiers, as no writer’s work had before or has since. From North Africa to Sicily, from the beaches of Anzio to the beaches of Normandy, and on to the war in the Pacific, where he would meet his end, Ernie Pyle had a genius for connecting with his beloved dogfaced grunts. A humble man, himself plagued by melancholy and tortured by marriage to a partner whose mental health struggles were much more acute than his own, Pyle was in touch with suffering in a way that left an indelible mark on his readers. While never defeatist, his stories left no doubt as to the heavy weight of the burden soldiers carried. He wrote about post-traumatic stress long before that was a diagnosis.
In The Soldier's Truth, acclaimed writer David Chrisinger brings Pyle’s journey to vivid life in all its heroism and pathos. Drawing on access to all of Pyle’s personal correspondence, his book captures every dramatic turn of Pyle’s war with sensory immediacy and a powerful feel for both the outer and the inner landscape. With a background in helping veterans and other survivors of trauma come to terms with their experiences through storytelling, Chrisinger brings enormous reservoirs of empathy and insight to bear on Pyle’s trials. Woven in and out of his chronicle is the golden thread of his own travels across these same landscapes, many of them still battle-scarred, searching for the landmarks Pyle wrote about.
A moving tribute to an ordinary American hero whose impact on the war is still too little understood, and a powerful account of that war’s impact and how it is remembered, The Soldier's Truth takes its place among the essential contributions to our perception of war and how we make sense of it.