PAUL FUSSELL IS a famous literary scholar and historian who sixty years ago served in the American infantry in France, and was badly wounded in 1945. The purpose of his new book is to present compelling evidence against 'a return ... to military romanticism, which, if not implying that war is really good for you, does suggest that it contains desirable elements - pride, companionship, and the consciousness of virtue enforced by deadly weapons'. In short sections, almost like accurate barrages of artillery fire, Fussell destroys most of the myths and whatever romance lingers about our perception of war.
The 'Crusade' of the title is the word that Eisenhower, Allied Commander in Europe, used in 1944 to describe the task ahead in destroying the German military machine. The crusaders, at least on the American side, were overwhelmingly boys of between seventeen and nineteen, swiftly and inadequately trained, and called