Book of the Month for September 2012

The title page from Up Front by Bill Mauldin, 1945 (D 745.2 .M34 1945, Rare Book Collection).

William Henry “Bill” Mauldin was an American editorial cartoonist.  He won his first Pulitzer Prize in 1945 at the age of 23 for his World War II depictions of  the battle weary soldiers (or “dogfaces”): Willie and Joe.  These two soldiers are based on real-life people:  Irving Richtel, Mauldin’s friend and comarade, served as the model for Willie, and Mauldin served as Joe.  The latter character is the one best known as G.I. Joe.

The University Libraries’ Up Front copy is a first edition that contains 161 of Mauldin’s famous wartime cartoons.  It is an association copy; a book that is dedicated and signed by the author.

Shown above is the front cover of Up Front. The khaki colored cloth binding is decorated with an army green pictorial of the infamous Willie and Joe.  The title and author’s name are also stamped in army green on the spine.

The below inscription is located on the book’s front free endpaper and refers to the cartoon on page 225.

The cartoon referred to by Mauldin in his dedication:

Mauldin was wounded in 1943 in Italy at the battle of Monte Cassino. After being wounded, he and his cartoons enjoyed an increased popularity with the regular soldiers, but less so with the higher ranking officers.  Mauldin had planned to have Willie and Joe die at the end of World War II, but the U.S. miliary newspaper, Stars and Stripes, was able to change his mind.

Mauldin tried his hand at various careers after the war, but none gave him the popularity or fame as his cartoons of Willie and Joe.  Mauldin returned to creating editorial cartoons and received his second Pulitzer Prize in 1958. Mauldin was the recipient of several military honors and medals, and after his death in 2003, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.