The End of My Life
A NovelVance 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.
- Pub Date
- Open Road Integrated Media
“No book since This Side of Paradise has caught so well the flavor of youth in war time, and no book since A Farewell to Arms has contained so complete a record of the loss of that youth in war.” —John W. Aldridge, After the Lost Generation
“One of our most important novels about the war.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Every page of it makes good reading. . . . Reminiscent of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“Astonishingly civilized, earnest and illuminating.” —New York Herald Tribune
“Mr. Bourjaily is often startlingly perceptive, has a true sense of climax, and knows how to write.” —The New Yorker
About the author
Vance Bourjaily (1922-2010) was born in Cleveland, Ohio. His father, a Lebanese immigrant, was a journalist, and his mother wrote romance novels. Raised in New York and Virginia, Bourjaily interrupted his studies at Bowdoin College to serve in the Second World War, first as an ambulance driver for the American Field Service and later as an army infantryman in occupied Japan. Legendary editor Maxwell Perkins commissioned Bourjaily's debut novel, The End of My Life, while he was still in the army, and the book is widely considered to be one of the finest accounts of World War II in American literature. Bourjaily's many other acclaimed works include The Violated, Confessions of a Spent Youth, and Brill Among the Ruins, a nominee for the National Book Award.
A longtime teacher at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the University of Arizona, Bourjaily was the first director of the master of fine arts program in creative writing at Louisiana State University.