The Young Lions

by Irwin Shaw

The Young Lions is a vivid and classic novel that portrays the experiences of ordinary soldiers fighting World War II. Told from the points of view of a perceptive young Nazi, a jaded American film producer, and a shy Jewish boy just married to the love of his life, Shaw conveys, as no other novelist has since, the scope, confusion, and complexity of war.

Standing alongside Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead and James Jones’s From Here to Eternity, The Young Lions is one of the most powerful American novels to tackle the Second World War. Ambitious in its scope and robust in its prose, Irwin Shaw’s work is also deeply humanistic, presenting the reality of war as seen through the eyes of ordinary soldiers on both sides. The story follows the individual dramas—and ultimately intertwined destinies—of Christian Diestl, a Nazi sergeant; Noah Ackerman, a Jewish American infantryman; and Michael Whitacre, an idealistic urbanite from the New York theatrical world.

Diestl first appears as a dashing ski instructor in Austria, mouthing his loyalty to Nazi ideals. As the war progresses, Diestl’s character continues to erode as he descends into savagery. Ackerman must endure domestic anti-Semitism and beatings in boot camp before proving himself in the European theater. Eventually, as part of the liberating army, he comes face-to-face with the unimaginable horrors of the death camps. Whitacre, trading cocktail parties for Molotov cocktails, confronts the barbarism of war, and in fighting simply to survive, finds his own capacity for heroism.

Shaw’s sweeping narrative is at once vivid, exciting, and brutally realistic as well as poignant in its portrayal of the moral devastation and institutional insanity of war. Penned by a master storyteller at the height of his craft, The Young Lions stands the test of time as a classic novel of war and the human experience.

Year First Published:1948

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The Young Lions
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 9780440197942      ISBN 10: 0440197945
Publisher: Dell Books  1976

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The Young Lions
Format: Softcover
ISBN: 9780440397946      ISBN 10: 0440397944
Publisher: Dell Books  1984

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The Young Lions
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780226751290      ISBN 10: 0226751295
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press  2000

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# Books: 28

 


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