This Week's Book Review - Brave Men

Brave Men
Looking for a good read? Here is a recommendation. I have an unusual approach to reviewing books. I review books I feel merit a review. Each review is an opportunity to recommend a book. If I do not think a book is worth reading, I find another book to review. You do not have to agree with everything every author has written (I do not), but the fiction I review is entertaining (and often thought-provoking) and the non-fiction contain ideas worth reading.

Book Review

Ernie Pyle in Europe

Reviewed by Mark Lardas
July 30, 2023

Brave Men by Ernie Pyle (Author) and David Chrisinger (Introduction), Penguin Classics, May 30, 2023, 544 pages, $24.00 (paperback), $13.99 (ebook), $38.50 (audiobook)

Ernie Pyle was the most beloved war correspondent of World War II. He covered the war from North Africa to Northern France in the European Theater before going to the Pacific to report on the Okinawa invasion.

“Brave Men,” originally published in 1944, is a classic collection of Pyle’s writings. It covers his activities from the invasion of Sicily in June 1943 through the liberation of Paris in September 1944. The book was made up of his newspaper columns. Some were updated to reflect changes since he wrote them, noting what happened to those he had written about.

In the the book he lives in many different places: aboard an LST headed to Anzio, with engineers in Sicily, an infantry company and artillery unit in Italy, among the aircrews of a dive bomber unit, a light bomber unit, and medium bomber unit in Italy and England ordinance and antiaircraft units in France. He then told the story of the men (and occasional women) who belonged to it. Nothing grand, but rather relating the everyday experiences of life.

Pyle’s style is what made him so popular back then, and why he is still worth reading today. Pyle looks at the war from a retail level. He mentioned those he encountered by name, giving their home town, and occasionally their street address. (Modern readers can look them up on Google Earth and wonder if today’s residents know of its heritage.) His prose is straightforward and spare, highly readable.

Most of those he wrote about were not famous. A few, like Bill Mauldin, were becoming famous. Others, like future sportscaster Lindsey Nelson, would become famous in the 1950 through 1970s, but were unknown GIs in World War 2. (Internet searches on names Pyle mentions sometimes yields interesting surprises.)

The book contains some of Pyle’s best writing, including his best known column, “The Death of Captain Waskow.” It follows a pattern pioneered by Pyle pre-war, roving the US, looking for ordinary people with interesting stories. It was a format followed by Charles Kuralt postwar and Salena Zito today.

“Brave Men” is being re-released in a new edition with an introduction by Pyle biographer David Chrisinger. It is worth reading, or reading again. It is a reminder of the best in America back in the 1940s. Yet much of what he writes about still exists in today’s small-town and rural America.

Mark Lardas, an engineer, freelance writer, historian, and model-maker, lives in League City, TX. His website is This review appeared in a different form in American Essence magazine and Epoch Times.