Tour of Duty, 1946

This nonfiction work compiles the author’s extensive reportage in the Pacific theater of World War II and postwar Europe. During the war, Dos Passos visits and studies conditions in Hawaii, the Marshall Islands, the Marianas, the Caroline Islands, the Philippines, New Caledonia, New Guinea, and Australia.

Of great concern to the author as he explores postwar Europe is the responsible brokering of the peace. “Who sups with the devil,” Dos Passos writes, “must need a long spoon—it is time Americans got it through their heads that Democracy and Dictatorship can’t cooperate.”

He deplores the state of Europe in an age of total war. Just before the Nuremberg trials, as he collects material for Tour of Duty, he writes his wife Katy: “The cold and stagnant sky of Northern Europe presses down on you [in Berlin] from above cutting out all light and warmth—[while] the miserable inhabitants with blue lips and hollow eyes drag their little boats of wood or slog about under shapeless bundles of things…A cold dank hell.”

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