NOVEMBER 5, 1943
NEW YORK, Thursday—We left the country fairly early yesterday morning, and I went on from New York City to Philadelphia. There I attended the luncheon of the CIO women's auxiliaries and spoke. Afterwards I spent a short time with the whole convention. It seemed to me a very alive and enthusiastic group of people. The air seemed to tingle and I am sure that out of their meetings will come not only talk, but action.
In the course of the last few days I have had the time to read a few books. One is Ernie Pyle's, "Here Is Your War." I like his writing better as I read it day by day in his column, because one gets each little incident and it stands out by itself as a little bit of human life which one cannot forget. Put together in a book, there are moments when I feel that, because there is no one continuous story, I will surely lose some of the incidents and I don't want to forget any of them.
The people he paints are our boys with all their aspirations and longings, hardships and dangers. When he describes his landing in Africa, you can almost feel the way the boys felt.
"We marched at first gaily, and finally with great weariness, but always with a feeling that at last we were beginning the final series of marches that would lead us home again... Home, the only really profound goal which obsesses every American marching on foreign soil."
He writes this in Africa. I felt it in Australia and New Zealand and in every island I visited in the Southwest Pacific. Because they are so far away, home has become idealized and it is the goal for which all our boys live.
On his last page, Ernie Pyle tells the truth about his book. He says, "On the day of final peace, the last stroke of what we call 'The Big Picture' will be drawn. I haven't written anything about that big picture because I do not know anything about it."
He has told a story of our Army as it is, of its life, day by day. It will give a vivid picture to anyone who has never been near a front. In the future, it will be one of the books to which historians will turn to explain the kind of men who fought this war.
The other book I read will not be out until January, and so I am not going to tell you much about it now. The authoress, Martha Gellhorn, who is the wife of Ernest Hemingway, has written several books in the past, but usually collections of short stories.
This is the first long novel of hers I have read. Its setting is an island on the Caribbean. I think it is beautifully written and stands out like a painting. One can see the scenes and I am sure people will enjoy it, but I shall wait till later to tell you more about it.