The Day I Fired Alan Ladd and Other World War II Adventures
University of Missouri Press, 2002 - 131 pages
"To perform heroically in a perilous situation is one thing, but I found that, in my case, the real difficulty was in getting myself into a spot where heroism was possible. Nobody on latrine duty ever got the Medal of Honor."This delightful memoir of A. E. Hotchner's World War II experiences explores a different side of the troubled war years. Hotchner, who grew up in St. Louis, was a rookie lawyer fresh out of Washington University Law School when the United States declared war. Like many others of his generation, he aspired to serve his country. He tried to enlist in the navy, first as a pilot and then as a deck officer, but he was rejected for faulty depth perception and flat feet, respectively. Drafted as a lowly GI into the air force branch of the army, he was accepted to bombardier school. But on the eve of his departure, he was ordered to write and perform in an air force musical comedy instead. He eventually went to Officer Candidate School and was assigned to the Anti-Submarine Command as a lieutenant adjutant, but just before his squadron's departure for North Africa he was detached and, despite knowing nothing about moviemaking, ordered to make a film that glorified the Anti-Submarine Command's role in combating U-boats.All through his four-year military career, despite his efforts to get into combat, fate and the military bureaucracy thwarted him. The author skillfully recounts the events of those years, describing the encounters he had with many unforgettable characters, including a footsore and sentimental Clark Gable and an inept Alan Ladd--best known as the star of Shane. Ladd, then a GI, did such a poor job reading the narration for Hotchner's film Atlantic Mission that Hotchner had to fire him. The author also describes his encounters with other well-known people, notably Tennessee Williams, with whom he attended a playwriting class at Washington University, and a wistful, vulnerable Dorothy Parker.Although much of Hotchner's memoir is lighthearted, it also provides a unique look at the impact of the war on everyday life in the United States. Hotchner's fast-paced prose makes this memoir an insightful pleasure to read.
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However , if there had been indications that Hitler was preparing to attack the
United States I most certainly would have rushed into uniform . But the underlying
fact was that I had been born and raised in a rare period of total global peace .
... whom Chris had been trying to impress could win . Chris was a totally
exuberant man who laughed infectiously , told outrageous jokes , and effortlessly
ranked at the top of his law class . We also had in common the fact that we were
dirt poor ...
Our bedraggled , unwashed , soot - ridden contingent arrived in Miami Beach on
the hottest June day ever recorded ( in fact , as it turned out , it was to be the
hottest summer ever recorded ) . At the end of the interminable nightmare journey
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THE DAY I FIRED ALAN LADD: and Other World War II AdventuresUser Review - Kirkus
Whimsical, at times poignant memoir of the WWII.Hotchner (Louisiana Purchase, 1996, etc.) provides an example of an all but vanished "laughter-in-uniform" genre that grew from America's last widely ... Read full review
The day I fired Alan Ladd and other World War II adventuresUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
World War II created many heroes who have been the subjects of popular biographies and memoirs. But for every hero, there were hundreds who performed their patriotic duty in anonymity. Author and ... Read full review