So today was mostly Ernie Pyle, who wrote the best thousand or so words on Omar Bradley that will ever be written.

It's not that there's anything profound in his descriptions, but that's what makes it so good. He picks up little things - the book on how to speak French in the general's trailer (this is in Sicily; Normandy's not for another year). And yet a few sentences later can talk about the reality of ordering men to their deaths without making it sound phony or overly philosophical. Pyle found the thing right in front of everyone's eyes and showed why it was important.

To me, General Bradley looked like a schoolteacher rather than a soldier. When I told him that, he said I wasn't so far wrong, because his father was a country schoolteacher and he himself had taught at West Point and other places. His specialty was mathematics.

No one else to that point in the war had talked about Bradley as a math teacher, yet in many ways it was the key, or one of them, to his character. Know that about him, and know that he had been hunting since he was old enough to hold a rifle, and you know quite a bit about how he saw war. But no other news story at the time, at least to that point, ever mentioned his days as a math teacher. (Or the connection to his father, which is critical to understanding who was as a man.)

And his bit on Bradley's not even close to his best piece.

If you're looking for a good book on the war, dig out Brave Men from the dusty confines of the local library. You'll be glad you did.

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