His classic study, The Great War and Modern Memory, was rooted in his own bitter experience of loss and waste in combat
by Nicolaus Mills
Paul Fussell, who died on Wednesday at the age of 88, was the classic public intellectual who wrote on everything from poetic meter to the role of class in American society. Like the late Christopher Hitchens, Fussell had the intellectual confidence to tackle any subject that interested him.
But what made Fussell more than just a versatile and gifted academic (he had a long and distinguished teaching career at Rutgers and the University of Pennsylvania) was his writing on war. His insight into the first world war, achieved in his breakthrough 1975 study, The Great War and Modern Memory – which received the National Book Award for Arts and Letters – was brought full circle by his own combat experience in the second world war. He was wounded and awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.
For more on this story, visit: Paul Fussell, the critic who fought the cant of military sacrifice | Nicolaus Mills | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.