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May 24, 2012


I've read both. The WW I book isn't worth reading.

Fussell was a snob in a sense no longer used.

From the OED:

A person who admires and seeks to imitate, or associate with, those of higher social status or greater wealth; one who wishes to be regarded as a person of social importance.

He was a professor after all.

I regret that I never had the chance to meet him. If he is to be remembered for anything that he wrote it will be his masterpiece "The Great War and Modern Memory" It changed the way I think about modern history. If you were to only read one of his books it must be this one.

"Wartime" about the second world war is also very much worth reading.

I'm on my way to the public library to check out BAD just to see which of HalfSigma's pet ideas and institutions Fussell skewers.

I'm undecided as of yet
whether Girls getting 50 posts
or Fussel's obit, 3
is technically good
or foreboding bad for me

Prole to die at an Adolph Hitler age.

Class was a really stupid book, if somewhat insightful. Fussell was a frightful snob of the worst sort, the college professor snob. His "X class" sort of presaged David Brooks's "Bourgieous Bohemians" but he treated them rapturously rather than skeptically. The book was a perfect illustration of how status-seeking poisons the minds of liberals.

Also check out his son Sam's book, "Muscle", in which he rebels against his intellectual upbringing by becoming a bodybuilder. I've alos heard his ex-wife's book is quite scathing. A very mesed up family...

His WW1 book was very good. You should also read his wife's autobiography, especially the chapter where he leaves for Europe where his "love of boys" would be accepted and respected. "Thank God for the Atom Bomb" was more controversial than Clas

He said, she said:


"Paul Fussell, whom she says she discovered rolling around on a couch, ''buck naked'' and drunk, with a male student. (How it must have galled her when he published his memoir, ''Doing Battle,'' three years ago! In his version, the Fussell marriage fell apart because of a late-1970's confluence of alcoholism and social change. In his version, there is no male student, only the ecstatic happiness discovered with the perfect second wife.)"

Well...sometimes a wrestling match is just a wrestling match.

FWIW, I believe her, and I always got the feeling that Fussell was a prick.

Well, my professor at Cal who assigned GW&MM was definitely gay.

Class is a good read, but its power to amuse is ultimately diminished by the final chapter on "class X." When I first read it, I thought, "this guy loves hippies - that's terrible!" If he'd updated the book, I fear he would have written a chapter extoling hipsters.

Oh this is sad news. Thank you for bringing it to my attention though.

What's so wrong with BAD? I thought it was hilarious.

Doing Battle is worth your while. But read it together with Betty Fussell's My Kitchen Wars.

His two collections of essays, Thank God for the Atom Bomb and The Boy Scout Handbook and other Observations contain some gems.

As others have mentioned, GWAMM and Wartime are both good.

Abroad, The Anti-Egotist, and the Boy's Crusade may be worth a look. I thought Uniforms was pretty mediocre.

As a professor myself, who had slight social dealings with Fussell, I can attest that his douchiness was well known in professional circles. As was his, ahem, "complex" personal life.

Over time, he became a curmudgeon of sorts, and therefore enjoyable to a point, but at heart he was an old-fashioned Ivy League liberal.

BAD really was unreadable, yet Class remains deeply insightful in places, despite his big wet kiss for the pre-bobos - nauseating; I, too, worry what he might have said about hipsters.

As for his "famous" books, they're mostly crap and haven't stood the test of time well. His writings on WWI (an area of speciality for me) were things I loved at 20 but by 40 I realized they were popular but poor scholarship (typical Fussell: over-personal and whiny); in a decade or two no one will remember those. His writings on WWII are so passive-aggressive they are almost unreadable. He was one messed up dude.

His son's bodybuilding memoir is better than any of dad's books, save Class, which I still enjoy and find valuable despite its age and flaws.

Paul Fussell's CLASS had a powerful effect on the way that I look at society. I read it twenty years ago, but the lessons are still fresh in my mind. After reading it, I saw things around me in a new light. For someone who grew up in the lower middle class, it was an education.

This was good and bad. On the one hand, it stole some of my innocence... my class unconsciousness, so to speak. On the other, it prepared me for the relentless status mongering of the white middle class that infects everyone from urban hipsters to suburban soccer moms.

Whenever I see a college sticker in the back window of a car, I think of Fussell's book.

Akademik, what *is* a great WWI book to read then? One that truly captures "lost generation" aftermath, etc. One that DOES stand up to time, and perhaps gives insight to 2012' lost generation...

HS, you should read "Great War and Modern Memory". It's odd to call that book "poor scholarship" since it is a fairly subjective book of literary criticism, not a history of World War I. Fussell is a relic of a time when a knowledge of Anglo Saxon literary traditions and history were considered the natural trappings of an educated man.

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