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Zone of the Interior a Memoir, 1942-1947

by Daniel Hoffman

  • ISBN: 9780807125687
  • ISBN10: 0807125687

Zone of the Interior a Memoir, 1942-1947

by Daniel Hoffman

  • List Price: $26.95
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Louisiana State Univ Pr
  • Publish date: 08/01/2000
  • ISBN: 9780807125687
  • ISBN10: 0807125687
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Description: In World War II, "Zone of the Interior" designated military service within the continental United States. Many memoirs have been written by veterans of the European and Pacific theaters of action, but this book, by former poet laureate Daniel Hoffman, is among the first by a noncombatant, describing unusual experiences in military and civilian life on the home front.

A chance summer job while in college led, after a few weeks, to Hoffman's writing instruction manuals for the P-47C and B-17F. Called up in the Enlisted Reserve, he was sent to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. At twenty, he was given more responsibility than he has ever held since: directing the AAF Technical Data Digest, an abstracts journal that covered every phase of aeronautical research and development relevant to the Army Air Force. It was sent to air bases around the world, military contractors, and all Allied air attaches. This is a hitherto untold report of how the AAF retrieved and distributed essential technical data before the invention of computerized information processing.

Challenging as this assignment was, Hoffman, knowing that his friends and classmates were facing danger and death overseas, was beset by survivor's guilt, in the end accepting that he could but do what his assignment required him.

"Zone of the interior" has another meaning as well -- the interior life of a young man trying to discover his true self and become a poet. While the Digest gave him hard, practical instruction in writing terse, unambiguous prose, in stolen moments he read and tried to write poetry, requiring allusive, resonant language. Occasionally interspersed among a colorful cast of characters -- including aviation pioneerAssen Jordanoff, radical economist Lewis Corey, rabble-rouser Gerald K. Smith, boxer Billy Conn, and scientist Theodore Von Karman -- are poems Hoffman wrote, either at the time or later, among them lines on first flight, a murder, and a marriage. These dramatize his feelings and perceptions and heighten the reader's sense of the realities described.

This memoir gives moving testimony to the influence of his wartime experience upon the life of a distinguished poet.

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