Reading recommendations
by Combat! fans for Combat! fans

Back Up Next

The Brass Ring
by Bill Mauldin

Reviewed by Dion Osika (aka "Dodger")
Posted Feb-08-2003

Most people familiar with Mauldin's works have seen a copy of his Up Front book. This book was first published in 1945 and is a collection of Mauldin's wartime cartoons along with Mauldin's observations of the GI's life on the front. Since the first edition, Up Front has been reprinted many times. However, my book recommendation is not for Up Front, which is always a great read for anyone who has not done so.

I want to recommend Bill Mauldin's "The Brass Ring." This book was written by Mauldin in 1971 and is his autobiographical account of ten years of his life from 1935 to 1945. In it he covers his teenage years in New Mexico and his early desire to take up cartooning as a profession. Mauldin manages a loan from his grandmother to attend art school in Chicago and then finding himself with no funds to continue school or payback the loan, he joins the Arizona National Guard in the pre-Pearl Harbor years.

His account continues with stories of his duty in the 45th Division in Oklahoma and the formation of the small Division newspaper, The 45th Division News, which will provide the platform from which he will develop his famous 'Willie and Joe' characters.

This is a very enjoyable read as Mauldin writes with exceptional skill and great humor. It is clear that he was a keen observer of the events and 'characters' around him and he was able to bring many of these observations to his cartoons. The book is generously sprinkled with many of his early cartoons, especially the early development of Willie and Joe.

Joe, by the way, was originally an Indian and was drawn in that character. Mauldin used many gags depicting him as a 'stereotyped Indian.'

Mauldin writes and reflects the character of the WWII GI, who is fiercely independent and not in love with military life. Yet he describes the bond and trust that these men formed to enable them to perform their duty and prevail against the enemy.

On the book jacket there is a statement that I found to ring very true.
"...His (Bill Mauldin) career was summed up by an army historian who recently remarked: 'There will never be another Mauldin. The Pentagon will never let him happen again.'"

How would Willie and Joe survive in an army of "Ooo-Rah" boys dressed in pressed fatigues?

Check for used copies of Brass Ring at Amazon

Other Bill Mauldin Books and more...

Other Bill Mauldin books:


 Back Up Next

Recommended World War II books:
Books about Doctors, Nurses & Medicine in WWII
Best Military Books of 20th Century
WWII Books for Children and Young readers
Audie Murphy Books and Films
Battlefield Chaplains - Catholic Priests in World War II by Donald F. Crosby
Before Their Time - WWII Book Review
The Brass Ring by Bill Mauldin
Breakout at Normandy
The Bridge at Dong Ha
Canada in WWII
Carnage and Culture : Landmark battles in the rise of Western Culture
The Clay Pigeons of St. Lo
Deadly Brotherhood : The American Combat Soldier in World War II
Dearest Ones a WWII Love Story by Rosemary Norwalk
Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel
Ernie Pyle
Flags of Our Fathers by James Bradley - WWII book review
German POWs in America
The Holocaust
Nazi Prisoners of War in America
No Gun Ri - A Military History of the Korean War Incident
Once Upon a Town - the miracle of the North Platte Canteen
Panzer Commander - The Memoirs of Colonel Hans Von Luck
Patton : A Genius for War
Books about the French Resistance
Redball Express
Remembered Prisoners of a Forgotten War : An Oral History of Korean War POWs
Roll Me Over - An Infantryman's World War II - Book Review
Seven Roads to Hell : A Screaming Eagle at Bastogne
US Army Photo Album - Shooting the War in Color
Black Sheep Squadron and Pappy Boyington Books
Vietnam Books