Irwin, John P. 1926-
IRWIN, John P. 1926-
PERSONAL: Born August 11, 1926, in Norristown, PA; married, 1951; children: three. Education: Ursinus College A.B., 1952; Easter Baptist Theological Seminary, B.D., 1955; Syracuse University, Ph.D., 1968.
ADDRESSES: Home—Lock Haven, PA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Random House, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
CAREER: Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, Lock Haven, professor of philosophy, 1964-90. Military service: U.S. Army, 1944-46.
Another River, Another Town: A Teenage Tank Gunner Comes of Age in Combat, 1945, Random House (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, John P. Irwin enlisted in the U.S. Army in August, 1944, at the height of World War II. Though he was only a teenager, he served as a tank gunner until July of 1946, when he was honorably discharged. He returned home and in 1952 went to Ursinus College; he eventually earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Syracuse University. From 1964 until his retirement in 1990 he taught philosophy at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania.
Another River, Another Town: A Teenage Tank Gunner Comes of Age in Combat, 1945 is Irwin's account of his war experiences. At the beginning of his service, he was filled with youthful idealism about being a heroic soldier. However, he is soon awakened by the brutality and waste of combat, and learns that the battlefield has little or nothing in common with civilian life. Battling not only the enemy, but also filth, fatigue, and hunger, Irwin also encounters the horrible evils of Nordhausen camp, a slave-labor prison where the Germans force people to work themselves to death manufacturing V-rockets, which the Germans use to bomb London. The camp is marked by piles of rotting corpses, and the starving workers are walking skeletons. By the time the war ends, his sense of heroism is gone, replaced by sheer relief that the fighting is over and he, and the other soldiers, can go home.
A Booklist reviewer praised the book as "spare, honest" and praised Irwin's depiction of the daily grind of warfare seeing a friend die, shooting a twelve-year-old boy, dealing with pompous military authorities, becoming close to members of his crew, and sharing a moment of humanity with a prisoner of war. In Publishers Weekly, a reviewer praised the book's "battle-weary and ultra-realistic tone" and noted its balance and understated style. A Kirkus Reviews writer described the book as "an ace of a wartime narrative."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of Another River, Another Town: A Teenage Tank Gunner Comes of Age in Combat, 1945, p. 1501.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2002, review of Another River, Another Town, p. 470.
Library Journal, March 1, 2002, review of Another River, Another Town, p. S18.
Publishers Weekly, April 15, 2002, review of Another River, Another Town, p. 53.
Books at Random,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (July 23, 2002).*