Irwin Shaw

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Irwin Shaw

Irwin Shaw (February 27, 1913 – May 16, 1984) was an American playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and short-story author. He is best known for two of his novels, The Young Lions (1948) and Rich Man, Poor Man (1970).


The Young Lions (1948)[edit]

  • We see our cities crumble under the enemy’s bombs, and we mourn for our children struck at their early tasks by the enemy’s bullets, and we strike back, cruelly and wildly, from the seabed of our hatred, at his cities and his children. The enemy is more savage than the tiger, hungrier than the shark, crueler than the wolf; in honor and in defense of our moderate way of life, we stand up to him and combat him, but in doing so we out-tiger him, out-shark the shark, over-wolf the wolf. Will we at the end of all this then pretend to ourselves that the victory is ours? The thing we defend perishes from our victory as it would never perish from our defeat.
    • Chapter 23
  • Do not boast to me in your newspapers of the thousands of tons of bombs you have let loose at random on the unhappy land of Germany, because I will tell you that you have let loose those bombs on me, on your church, on yourselves and on your God. Tell me, rather, how you have wept for the single German soldier you have been forced to kill as he stood before you armed and dangerous, and I will say, you are my defender and the defender of my church and my England.
    • Chapter 23
  • Kill, if you must, because in our weakness and in our error, we have found no other road to peace, but kill remorsefully, kill with a sense of sorrow, kill with economy for the immortal souls who leave this life in battle, carry mercy in your cartridge cases, forgiveness in your knapsacks, kill without revenge, because vengeance is not yours but the Lord’s, kill, knowing that each life you spend makes your life that much the poorer.
    • Chapter 23
  • To the Generals eighty miles away, the reports on casualties are encouraging. To the man on the scene the casualties are never encouraging. When he is hit or when the man next to him is hit, when the ship fifty feet away explodes, when the Naval Ensign on the bridge is screaming in a high, girlish voice for his mother because he has nothing left below his belt, it can only appear to him that he has been involved in a terrible accident, and it is inconceivable at that moment to believe that there is a man eighty miles away who has foreseen that accident, encouraged it, made arrangements for it to happen, and who can report, after it has happened (although he must know about the shell, about the listing Landing Craft Infantry, about the wet decks and the screaming Ensign) that everything is going according to plan.
    • Chapter 28
  • The exiles, living in mud and fear of death, had, in one way at least, found a better home than those from which they had been driven, a blood-spattered Utopia, now on the fringe of German soil, where no man was rich and none poor, a shell-burst democracy where all living was a community enterprise, where all food was distributed according to need and not according to pocket, where light, heat, lodging, transportation, medical attention, and funeral benefits were at the cost of the government and available with absolute impartiality to white and black, Jew and Gentile, worker and owner, where the means of production, in this case M1s, 30 caliber machine guns, 90s, 105s, 204s, mortars, bazookas, were in the hands of the masses; that ultimate Christian socialism in which all worked for the common good and the only leisure class were the dead.
    • Chapter 35

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