Letters from the
Good War,

A Young Man's Discovery
of the World

by Hugh Aaron

ISBN 1-882521-04-8, 712 pages Softcover
List price $20.00

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Comments From Readers:

This book is a remarkable history of...a young man's journey during WWII from a loving, sheltering home to the world of the serviceman, first in the U.S. and then in the Southwest Pacific. It's also a poignant, palpably real (partial) coming of age of a uniquely sensitive, ever-curious, introspective human being...Now then, if you lived through this period yourself, you'll thank the author (just as I did) for capturing it so well. However, if you missed out, you now have a second chance to experience -- really experience -- what your father, or his father, lived through some 50 years ago, thanks to Hugh Aaron of a half century ago...and now.
George M. Naimark Ph.D., Age 71
Management Consultant, Florham Park, NJ
ETM 3/c U.S.N. during WWII. Served in the U.S. and the Philippines.

These letters are unique! I found it fascinating to witness an adolescent consciously, yet innocently, engaged in the process of assessing and documenting his own development into manhood. His introspection was obviously subjective in its execution, but he understood himself and his world with staggering clarity. Such depth of character, such an exquisite eye for detail! All this makes the Letters an enlightening read.

This book is a commitment. It is an honest glimpse into the past, and in that way it is a gift to all of us in the present.
Suzanne A. Holmes, Ed.D., Age 38
Counseling Psychologist; Boulder Colorado

I gave [my husband] Letters from the Good War for Christmas but have not found time to read it myself until a few days ago. You've got me hooked. Your descriptions of the train ride, the Hollywood sights, the people...all captivating. I've gotten to the part where you are learning about communications in your early days at Fischhafen. But what hit me most was that I am so envious of your daughter having this wonderful record of her father as a young man. I am sure I am not alone in wishing I had even a fraction of this much insight into my dad.
Alice Dashiell,
Teacher of Management in Government, Clinton, MD

In the spirit of Paul Baumer, the young narrator in Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, Hugh Aaron's letters, written with incredible precision, provide a portrait of a complex and amazing young man during a very complex and amazing period of history. Most striking is his emotional outpouring toward his mother and father. If his love for his family does not show while he is away, his awareness of it certainly does, and his ability to express it is what makes this an invaluable collection.
Christopher Bland, age 24
Recent college graduate; Portland, Maine

Read about:

  • Life in the wartime U.S., its unity of purpose and generosity of spirit
  • The day-to-day experience of serving in the war-torn Southwest Pacific
  • The families that gave servicemen a home away from home
  • Hollywood during the golden years, its movie stars and directors
  • Love for family, personal ambition, coming of age, making choices
  • The dreams and fears that men have when fighting away from home
  • The efficiency of the U.S. war machine
  • Male bonding, love between American men and Filipino women
  • The clash of the American and Filipino cultures
  • The enchantment of a Filipino village and its grateful people
  • The horrendous destruction wrought by war
  • And Much More - including 16 pages of photographs and 59 pages of notes on the personalities and events of the times.

From the Publisher:
War veterans can reminisce about their war experience. And their spouses, children and grandchildren can learn through these letters what it was like to serve in the war.

From the Author:
As the reader observes the writer developing into early manhood, he or she will gain from these letters a feel for the times that were so different from the way things are today, through the eyes of an adolescent who misses no detail, no nuance, in his observation of the world around him.

Excerpts from two letters:

Dear Mom: I hoped that this weekend would see the war end. It wasn't an altogether absurd possibility. Damn them to hell. Unfortunately the [Japanese] leaders, driven by a frantic and futile determination, are willing to let their own people be massacred and their cities laid waste. They are guided by a bent and twisted logic. To ignore our ultimatum means sheer disaster; yet they persist. Apparently they cling to a flimsy hope for negotiations. They remind me of the stubborn fellow, who in the throes of losing an argument, can't bring himself to back down. Or as with Germany, they need more proof of our might. Whatever their reason, their decision makes me angry, and, for the first time, I wish that none of them will be spared. I can't help believing that wars, like people, die when the forces of nature and chance are good and ready to let them die.


Dear Mom: Over the radio and from everyone's lips is excited talk of the new atomic bomb. Appalling and fantastic as it sounds, its grim and optimistic truth cause a sinking sensation within me. When man can cause such immense devastation with such a small mass in such a short time, surely anyone can realize with half a thought its significance for the future, the untold horrors of another war.

More about the letters
Letters were crucial during World War II; they were the only communication between men and women participating in the war and their loved ones. Reading a letter just received from a son, a girlfriend, a wife, a mother or father, or just a friend, was always the high point of the day. The very act of writing implied love and caring; feelings were expressed that rarely, if ever, would have been before the war, when life was ordinary.

The letters herein, some one thousand of them, are a day to day account of what happened in the life of a young enlisted man serving in the Naval Construction Battalions - the Seabees. They take the reader from the first day of boot camp, to various training camps around the U.S., to the Southwest Pacific and back home.

This collection reveals the spirit of the times and the American culture - quite different from today. One gains an intimate view of the writer's family, relatives and friends, and the families who invited him into their homes. The letters show the development of a philosophical view of the world, and a maturing. Together they are a character study of a young man coming of age, a life on hold until the war is over, contemplating a future that, with all it's options, tears at him.

Each letter dwells on a new subject, propelling the reader to the next. Fifty years ago the writer's parents passed these letters on to friends and relatives, read them before gatherings, and urged that they be published. Today their wish is realized.

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