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DePastino Authors Biography Of Famed War Cartoonist Bill Mauldin

2/21/2008 —

Historian and author Todd A. DePastino, adjunct lecturer in history at Penn State Beaver, has written a new biography about one of the 20th century's most important editorial cartoonists. "Bill Mauldin: A Life Up Front" explores the background and philosophy of Mauldin, whose cartoon characters Willie and Joe made their way through World War II while disparaging the government and military authority with pointed humor and sarcasm.

DePastino notes that his book about Mauldin was a result of research he conducted while writing an earlier book about the history of homelessness in America. He realized that military service in the war caused a large percentage of homelessness and began to explore World War II. "I started to look at Mauldin's work during the war and was stunned by what I saw. It was edgy, anti-establishment, yet it appeared in Stars and Stripes, the Army's newspaper. I wanted to know who this guy was," DePastino said.

Mauldin, who first served as an Army rifleman, used his cartoons to portray the treachery and tedium of war, endearing himself to soldiers around the world as well as Americans at home. Mauldin referred to himself as being "as independent as a hog on ice," and his very unconventional political views resulted in a face-to-face reprimand from Gen. George Patton.

In 1945, at age 23, he won the first of two Pulitzer Prizes for editorial cartooning for his series "Up Front With Mauldin." He won his second Pulitzer in 1959 as an editorial cartoonist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for his cartoon attacking Soviet repression of free speech and literature. He also worked at the Chicago Sun-Times where he drew one of his most beloved and poignant cartoons following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Mauldin died at the age of 81 in 2003.

A review of the new biography was written by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette book editor Bob Hoover on Sunday, Feb. 17, and can be found at http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08048/857554-74.stm.

A native of Mount Lebanon, DePastino holds a doctoral degree and a master's degree in history from Yale and a bachelor's degree in history and philosophy from Boston College. He also is the author of "Willie and Joe: The World War II Years," "Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America," and is co-author of "Jack London's 'The Road (Subterranean Lives).' " DePastino can be contacted at tad9@psu.edu or (724) 773-3863.

 

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