Looking After Larry
by Charles Hays
Trafford Publishing

"Mothers, this twist is about what the Army can be like so hold on to your cherished sons and daughters. Try to keep them out of these political wars, if you can with this terrible depression that is choking the life right out of our great Nation."

The author's uncle left him with a detailed journal and a series of letters from the theater of operations in Europe in World War Two. Filling in with his own memories and details from relatives, the life and character of one James Homer Hounshell emerges. From his dirt-poor youth in depression era rural Kentucky to his eventual enlisting in the U.S Army and shipment oversees, the life and character of the young man is fleshed out. The introduction of his nemesis, a West Point educated 2nd Lieutenant named Oscar Karo, takes place as soon as basic training and continues throughout as Karo makes a point of finding assignments to the same fighting unit as James. Their relation is further complicated by an affair between Hounshell and Karo’s wife, Maggie. In fact, Maggie is pivotal in preventing James from graduating from Officer's Candidate School. This complicated web of relations continues throughout the duration of the war, with Hounshell always wary of Karo's machinations against him.

An attractive element of this book is the no-holds-barred approach to truth-telling. Hounshell's predilection for women and gambling are discussed in graphic detail, and indeed, these appetites are shown to have both helped and hurt him. Also frankly discussed is the incompetency of men like Karo, who may hold rank, but have no leadership ability. The indiscriminate bombing of the French population by the Army Air Force is discussed, as well as the huge loss of American life caused by the same mindless bombing during Operation Cobra. The Larry of the title was a GI driven into shell-shock by witnessing this friendly-fire incident. This and other little known aspects of the "greatest generation's" time in war-torn Europe make this book a valuable addition to WWII literature.

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