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The Young Lions (1949)

by Irwin Shaw

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6521536,461 (3.88)56
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:One of the great World War II novels, this New York Timesbestselling "masterpiece" captures the experiences of three very different soldiers (The Boston Globe).

Standing alongside Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead and James Jones's From Here to Eternity, The Young Lions is one of the most powerful American novels to tackle the Second World War. Ambitious in its scope and robust in its prose, Irwin Shaw's work is also deeply humanistic, presenting the reality of war as seen through the eyes of ordinary soldiers on both sides. The story follows the individual dramasand ultimately intertwined destiniesof Christian Diestl, a Nazi sergeant; Noah Ackerman, a Jewish American infantryman; and Michael Whitacre, an idealistic urbanite from the New York theatrical world.

Diestl first appears as a dashing ski instructor in Austria, mouthing his loyalty to Nazi ideals. As the war progresses, Diestl's character continues to erode as he descends into savagery. Ackerman must endure domestic anti-Semitism and beatings in boot camp before proving himself in the European theater. Eventually, as part of the liberating army, he comes face-to-face with the unimaginable horrors of the death camps. Whitacre, trading cocktail parties for Molotov cocktails, confronts the barbarism of war, and in fighting simply to survive, finds his own capacity for heroism.

Shaw's sweeping narrative is at once vivid, exciting, and brutally realistic as well as poignant in its portrayal of the moral devastation and institutional insanity of war. Penned by a master storyteller at the height of his craft, The Young Lions stands the test of time as a classic novel of war and the human experience.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Irwin Shaw including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author's estate.

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English (8)  Dutch (2)  Slovak (1)  Danish (1)  Hebrew (1)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
I think that if I had read this book as a young adult, I would have given it 5* and it would have filled me with outrage and anger. Now it made me sad and filled with despair so I can't say that I loved it.

As a young person, novels like this were key to opening my eyes to some of the horror of war and the unjustness of prejudice. Now as an older adult, I know these things (though thankfully not from personal experience) and also no longer have the energy or hope that society can be made better. Well, I do hope that society can become better - more equitable, more compassionate - but my hope is dimmer now especially that it will happen in my lifetime. So the book just made me unhappy about all the things Noah had to go through while finding his ordeals all too plausible. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 27, 2023 |
Good historical novel of 3 people, two Americans (one a Jew), and a German during WW II. Pretty good film too. ( )
  kslade | Dec 8, 2022 |
“THE TOWN SHONE IN the snowy twilight like a Christmas window, with the electric railway’s lights tiny and festive at the foot of the white slope, among the muffled winter hills of the Tyrol. People smiled at each other broadly, skiers and natives alike, in their brilliant clothes, as they passed each other on the snow-draped streets, and there were wreaths on the windows and doors of the white and brown houses because this was the eve of the new and hopeful year of 1938.”

As the novel opens Christian Diestl, an Austrian ski instructor, speaks with a young American woman and warns her that war is coming. The storyline follows him as he fights in France, Northern Africa, Italy, and Germany. Noah Ackerman, a young Jewish American, is living in California. He is feeling lonely and disconnected when he meets and falls in love with Hope Plowman. He enters the Army and faces anti-Semitism in his own ranks. He is deployed to England before being sent into battle. Michael Whiteacre is a writer and film producer living the “good life” in New York. He is determined to enter the Army as a private but is soon disillusioned, so he pulls strings to get assigned to non-combat duty.

Published in 1948, this book is historical fiction at its finest. It is written in realistic fashion. Shaw was a writer before joining the US Army during World War II, and the story is based on his first-hand experiences. It is a beautifully crafted novel. It is told in chronological order alternating among the three protagonists. The characters are deeply defined, and the reader senses that their stories will eventually converge.

The narrative focuses on the personal lives and military experiences of the soldiers. It does not attempt to address the military strategies or leadership decisions. It is a sweeping epic of a literary work that examines the moral quandaries presented by war. I found it easy to get immersed in the characters’ lives. At 700 pages of dense writing, it requires a significant time commitment, but I found it well worth the effort.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
Published originally in 1948, this book has the distinction of creating several of the standard plot devices in what became a major genre of fiction for the following two decades. A gathering of friends prior to the outbreak of the major conflict and following the fates of those gathered. Not all survive, and, of course some become better people, and some become fugitives. It is well written though not exceptional by later standards. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jun 3, 2022 |
The Young Lions is a story of three young men: Christian Diestl, an Austrian ski teacher, who joins the Nazi party; Michael Whitacre, a divorced and immoral Hollywood producer; and Noah Ackerman, an American Jew. The only thing they share in common is that they unexpectedly find themselves facing the life altering experience of serving their countries during World War II. The characters experience loyalty and commitment, weakness and strength, anger and confusion, cowardice and bravery, humility, animosity, fear, and love, all vividly expressed by Shaw in a story that testifies to the inhumanity of war.

The Young Lions was written in 1948 and is very reminiscent of The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer and From Here to Eternity by James Jones. Shaw's knowledge of human nature, coupled with his insights into military life provide a rich portrayal of life during WWII. Presenting different perspectives from individuals on both sides of the conflict makes it easy for the reader to engage with the main characters, whether you liked them or not. It also provided a valuable view into the war from their perspectives.

The book starts out very slow and it took me quite awhile to finally get into it. Once I did though, I thought it was an outstanding novel that doesn't describe the glory of war as much as the tragedy. It was both engrossing and emotional When I finished the novel I also took the opportunity to watch the 1958 movie starring Marlon Brando, Dean Martin and Montgomery Clift. Having read the novel, I can't imagine anyone else playing those roles.

( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
-Eccomi, io sono contro di te -, dice il Signore degli Eserciti, -e brucerò e ridurrò in fumo i tuoi carri; e la spada divorerà i tuoi giovani leoni; e sterminerò la tua preda sulla terra, e la voce dei tuoi messaggeri non sarà udita mai più- Nahum: 2, 13
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The town shone in the snowy twilight like a Christmas window, with the electric railway's lights tiny and festive at the foot of the white slope, among the muffled winter hills of the Tyrol.
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Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:One of the great World War II novels, this New York Timesbestselling "masterpiece" captures the experiences of three very different soldiers (The Boston Globe).

Standing alongside Norman Mailer's The Naked and the Dead and James Jones's From Here to Eternity, The Young Lions is one of the most powerful American novels to tackle the Second World War. Ambitious in its scope and robust in its prose, Irwin Shaw's work is also deeply humanistic, presenting the reality of war as seen through the eyes of ordinary soldiers on both sides. The story follows the individual dramasand ultimately intertwined destiniesof Christian Diestl, a Nazi sergeant; Noah Ackerman, a Jewish American infantryman; and Michael Whitacre, an idealistic urbanite from the New York theatrical world.

Diestl first appears as a dashing ski instructor in Austria, mouthing his loyalty to Nazi ideals. As the war progresses, Diestl's character continues to erode as he descends into savagery. Ackerman must endure domestic anti-Semitism and beatings in boot camp before proving himself in the European theater. Eventually, as part of the liberating army, he comes face-to-face with the unimaginable horrors of the death camps. Whitacre, trading cocktail parties for Molotov cocktails, confronts the barbarism of war, and in fighting simply to survive, finds his own capacity for heroism.

Shaw's sweeping narrative is at once vivid, exciting, and brutally realistic as well as poignant in its portrayal of the moral devastation and institutional insanity of war. Penned by a master storyteller at the height of his craft, The Young Lions stands the test of time as a classic novel of war and the human experience.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Irwin Shaw including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author's estate.

.

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