Monday, June 11, 2007

Highly Recommended Reading on World War Two

Etched in Purple--The Greatest WWII Infantryman Story, by Frank Irgang


Technically, the story of an Army infantryman doesn't fit in a blog on World War Two airmen, but since it's my blog, I can break the rules.

Frank Irgang's Etched in Purple is my favorite book about the U.S. infantry in Europe in World War Two. Frank, who still teaches the occasional college class at San Diego State, landed on D-Day as a medic with the 28th Infantry. This unit took such heavy casualties that he ended up becoming a scout. He fought in the major battles of the European campaign, and saw some terrible things. After the war, he returned, and as part of his catharsis wrote his outstanding recounting of his experiences, Etched in Purple. The book was published by Caxton Printers in Caldwell, Idaho in 1948, and sold several thousand copies.

About ten years ago, I was in a thrift store when I came upon a copy of Etched in Purple, signed by Frank to its former owner in 1952. I bought it, read it, and the book touched me as few books have before or since. It is raw, honest, and disturbing. I tracked Frank down in California, wrote him, and we began a correspondence that has lasted to this day. Recently, I recommended Etched in Purple to my publisher, and it is currently being considered for re-issue. If this book is re-issued, it will be the proudest moment of my literary life. For I believe Etched in Purple is destined to become a classic.

Unfortunately, the book is out of print, and finding one is near-impossible. Let's hope for the best!

4 comments:

Richard Havers said...

Rob, you're right, The cheapest I found it for was $88 here

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/BookDetails?bi=269921810

It's certainly a no-brainer to have someone republish!

r morris said...

The book is rare and thus very expensive. I've been pushing for its publication for years. It's really sad that a book this good has flown under the radar for fifty years. It's my mission to change that. Potomac is considering it now, and I'll be very disappointed if they decide not to publish.

Richard Havers said...

Rob, if they do let me know and we'll see if we can find another home for it.

r morris said...

Richard, I'd be happy to lend you my copy so you can read it if you like. Rob