WSU emeritus prof publishes war memoir
2:56:40 PM CDT - Friday, February 14, 2003
By Bruce Erickson
Emeritus professor Glenn Fisher has written
a book about his war experience, describing
his journey to and from a muddy German
beet field where green American troops
attacked one of Hitler's best SS Panzer divisions.
Fisher was wounded in the assault.
Glenn Fisher, Regents Professor Emeritus of Urban and Public Affairs, has published an account of his experiences as a drafted foot solider in World War II titled "Not to Reason Why: The Story of a One-Eyed Infantryman in World War II."
The book explores what Fisher thought about the war experience as it happened and in retrospect.
The title says a lot. His was not to reason why; only to do or die and he came perilously close to the latter. After being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943, a few years after graduating from high school in Hannibal, Mo., Fisher lost his sight in one eye in a training mishap and was later shot in an assault on German lines. At the time he was shot, he was lost, mired in mud and his rifle was inoperable.
Although Fisher describes in eloquent detail the battle in which he was wounded and most of his fellow soldiers were either killed or wounded, "Not to Reason Why" is more than a war story.
He describes his personal experience with candor and humor, but he does so in historical context and with a sociologist's eye for American culture and society of the time. With war fresh on the horizon, Fisher reminds us of how war always changes us.
As one reviewer said, "Fisher and many of his American contemporaries were exposed to completely unfamiliar perspectives about issues as divergent as racial segregation and opportunities for higher education."
For young men and women who served in the war, the experience opened a Pandora's box of opportunities for the world beyond the farms, towns and cities from which they came. All came away from the experience changed men and women.
"Millions of war veterans have not shared the most important experience of their lives with those nearest to them," Fisher said. "What was it like to leave home at 17 or 18? What was it like to be shot at? What was it like to see your buddies die and to kill another human being?
"Conventional wisdom says that veterans find it painful to talk about combat experience. That wisdom is often wrong, or at least incomplete."
Veterans will often discuss their experiences with other veterans, but they are likely to fear that others, even their own family members, will misunderstand.
"The veteran is speaking about things that happened in a different time, a different culture," he said.
After a year in hospitals and rehabilitation, Fisher went on to earn his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees with assistance from GI bill benefits at the University of Iowa, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Wisconsin in Madison and to become an author and expert on the subject of state and local government and taxation.
He was recruited to Wichita State University in 1970 as Regents Professor of Urban and Public Affairs after 10 years at the University of Illinois.
In addition to "Not to Reason Why," Fisher is the author of six books and more than 100 articles on his specialty of public policy and taxation.
The book is available through major bookstores and online through xlibris.com, amazon.com and other booksellers.