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Available for the first time in paperback, "Civilians under Arms "presents representative samplings of articles, poems, and letters to the editor that appeared in "The Stars and Stripes "over a span of four wars--the Civil War (with contributors from both the Union and Confederate sides), World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. Herbert Mitgang, who was a correspondent and editor for "The Stars and Stripes "during World War II, has written a new introduction for this edition.
In partial explanation of the title for this book, Mitgang notes that ""The Stars and Stripes" was not simply an 'Army' paper (it did not exist between the two World Wars), but a creation and expression of America's civilians under arms." The correspondents for the paper wore patches on their left shoulders saying "Stars and Stripes, "but they displayed no other designation of rank. Mitgang explains this, too: "We did not wear our sergeant's stripes precisely because we wanted to foster the impression that we were--at least until discovered--as privileged and possibly as talented as the civilian war correspondents (whose pay greatly exceeded ours)."
The army newspaper surfaced under many guises over its history. The first "Stars and Stripes--"a""single-issue edition--appeared in Bloomfield, Missouri, on November 9, 1861, the first year of the Civil War. One group of Union prisoners put out a handwritten newspaper, and one paper was printed on the back of wallpaper because nothing else was available. Whatever form it has taken, the army newspaper has always functioned primarily as an organ for enlisted personnel, although it generally has received at least a tacit seal of approval from the top brass--with the exception of General Patton.
Mitgang notes a kinship among military correspondents. In the introduction to the book, Mitgang refers to army war correspondents as "comrades-in-arms-and-ink." Their newsbeats offered the promise of glory, certainly, but danger and death occurred in pursuit of stories while under fire.
No greater compendium of writings from and about our nation's wars can be found.
Southern Illinois University Press
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