Wilber’s War (abridged) An American Family’s Journey through World War II
Van Dorn Books • 978-0-9966939-0-5 • www.wilberswar.com There is a renewed interest in World War II memoirs these days. Why do you think that is?
World War II was a war that most still agree was a necessary conflict. Also, the surviving soldiers and sailors are becoming few and far between, as are those, like myself, who remember those days as young children. When I rediscovered all my father’s wartime letters in 1980, I realized I was uniquely able to provide the context for them because I remember many of the events and people from those days.
How and why did you decide to abridge the original trilogy? Does it contain the full story?
Yes it does. The trilogy was itself a distillation, by 50 percent, of my dad’s output of highly literate wartime letters. It contains a wealth of descriptions, events, and anecdotes that flesh out army life in the Pacific War, in and out of combat. It is also a beautifully produced set of hardcover books, a collector’s item. However at 1,112 pages, it is a bit much for many readers. Accordingly, for the abridged softcover version, I trimmed it down to the essentials that carry the story forward. Still, at 358 pages and 95 illustrations, including 21 maps, it is rich in local color, combat events, and insight into the effects of war, in combat and on the home front. Like the trilogy, it consists of about half my dad’s words and half mine.
Did you finally come to understand the cause of your father’s suicide?
His suicide shortly after returning home was a great shock to us. He had survived three years overseas, two wounds, and a number of “close calls,” like the 500-lb bomb that landed just eight feet from him and those that led to three Silver Stars. PTSD was surely a factor. Through his letters and my investigations, I learned of other possibilities, such as his relationship with my mother, whom he adored. Her story is a rich subplot of the book.