Beachhead on the Win
CARL JONAS, a sailor returned from sea and shore duty in the Aleutians and Central Pacific, has written a book which many an inarticulate veteran will wish to have his family read. Perhaps more clearly, and certainly more frankly, than anyone else to date, Mr. Jonas explains the troubled emotions of returning servicemen. He does it, with only touches of self-conscious lecturing, in a stirring story of seven men struggling to survive on a wind-swept arctic beachhead.
Mr. Jonas’s war is the serviceman’s war, recorded from the perspective of those who found that boredom, discomfort, and the elements were the real enemy. He writes not of heroic death in battle, but of the men who die a little each day from homelessness, exile, lovelessness, fear, and, perhaps most of all, from being subjected to arbitrary and unquestioned whim. His seven sailors fight against the cold and wind to salvage some small degree of comfort and security ; they might just as easily be seven soldiers fighting the heat and sandstorms in some other theater. On the enlisted man’s level, war is the same everywhere.
Now that servicemen are free to express themselves without censorship, Mr. Jonas and the many others who have been waiting for the opportunity to make their people at home understand what the war was like for them should have a wide audience. Mr. Jonas has set an admirable standard for those who follow him. His Beachhead on the Wind is an enthralling study of a young veteran who discovers that his past is too much with him. He feels guilty about the comrades left behind — comrades who become more familiar to the readers than their own sons, whom they represent.
EDGAR L. JONES