Books: Airbursts Thank God for the Atom Bomb

by Paul Fussell Summit; 298 pages; $17.95

Paul Fussell's collection of crusty essays covers a good deal of time and space, from Hiroshima, 1945, to the Indianapolis 500, 1982. Pieces about the fate of chivalry (linked to the decline of horse culture) and nudism in Yugoslavia (when the sun goes down, the naked dress up) range knowingly over such touchy subjects as taste and class. At his most potent, Fussell takes on two hazardous areas: meeting an enemy in battle and engaging the English language in single combat. He has had victories on both fronts, as an infantry officer in World War II and as a professor of...

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