Vance Bourjaily’s classic novel of World War II dramatizes an entire generation’s loss of innocence
When Thomas “Skinner” Galt leaves Greenwich Village to volunteer as an ambulance driver with the British Army, he anticipates the adventure of a lifetime. What he fails to understand is that no matter where he comes from or how many books he has read, once he dons a military uniform, his life will cease to be his own.
Stationed first in the Middle East and then in Italy, Skinner and his fellow American volunteers, Rod, Freak, and Benny, endure boredom, fear, and the exquisite frustration of following orders. They seek solace in their friendship with one another and in the debauched diversions available to men during wartime. But as the days and nights drag on, Skinner begins to drift away from his comrades—and from himself. Too late, he discovers that the path he has chosen leads only to tragedy.
Inspired by Vance Bourjaily’s experiences as an ambulance driver in the American Field Service and commissioned by legendary editor Maxwell Perkins, The End of My Life marked the arrival of a writer heralded by the New York Times as “a Dostoevsky of the generation that came of age in World War II.” Elegant, spare, and fiercely honest, this is a timeless portrait of the devastating effects of war on the human spirit.