joined by more troop ships and seeralrndestroyer escorts. This armada had beenrnassembled for “Operation Olympia” —rnthe invasion of Japan.rnWilHs powerfully conveys the reliefrnthat he and his fellow Marines felt whenrnthe dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshimarnand Nagasaki—not the plannedrnamphibious invasion — ended the Pacificrnwar. Had the bomb not been dropped,rnthe invasion of Japan woidd have requiredrnat least 36 U.S. combat divisionsrnplus support forces—a total of four-and-ahalfrnmillion men or 40 percent of all servicemenrnin uniform in 1945. By conservativernestimates, the invasion would havernresulted in over one quarter of a millionrnAmericans dead and another million casualties.rnThese estimates were based onrnthe assumption that, in August 1945, thernJapanese had no more than 2,500 aircraftrn(of which only 300 were believed to bernoperational) to repel an invasion. It wasrnlater discovered that Japan had 12,725rnplanes available and was prepared tornlaunch continuous kamikaze attacks onrnU.S. troop ships for ten days. The Japanesernalso possessed rocket-propelled bombsrnsimilar to Germany’s V-1; 40 conventionalrnsubmarines; over 200 two-man suicidernsubs and more than 100 five-man suicidernsubs; 4,000 military motorboats wiredrnwith explosives; 120 special torpedoesrnmore than 60 feet long and capable ofrnsinking the largest U.S. warships; 23 destroyers;rnand two cruisers. Had the invasionrnoccurred, the carnage would havernbeen unimaginable.rnWillis’s account of his time in Sasebo,rnJapan, as part of the U.S. occupationrnforce —his adventures ranged from confrontingrnrats nearly the size of cats tornguarding millions of cases of Coca-Colarnthat arrived in lieu of winter clothing—isrnhilarious. His return to San Diegornaboard the U.S.S. Mobile, his subsequentrndischarge, and his experience as a civilianrnstill in Marine green are alternatelyrnfunny, hearhvarming, and insightfid.rn”In a time of universal deceit,” GeorgernOrwell wrote, “telling the truth is a revolutionaryrnact.” My Life as a Jarhead:rnUSMC 1941-45 is one of those revolutionaryrnacts, and Ralph Walker Willis is,rnin that sense, a “revolutionary.” Today,rnas our republic is being replaced by anrnempire and history is in danger of becomingrn”a lie agreed upon,” Americarndesperatelv needs more “revolutionaries”rnlike Ralph Walker Willis, U.S.M.C.rn]oseph Fallon writes from Rye, New York.rnTwo Betweenrnthe Ribsrnby Clyde WilsonrnHooking Uprnby Tom WolfernNew York: Farrar Straus Giroux;rn293 pp., $25.00rnThe Lecturer’s Talernby James HynesrnNew York: Picador USA;rn388 pp., $25.00rnHow does he get away with it? Everrnsince Bonfire of the Vanities, I havernwondered at Tom Wolfe’s success. Thernsuccess itself is well deserved: Wolfe is arndazzling writer, without peer as an observerrnof contemporary American life.rnBut can’t the brilliant social and literaryrncritics of New York figure out what he isrnup to? Have they ever actually read hisrnbooks? (A suspicion I have long heldrnabout some professors is that they discoursernpompously upon classic worksrnthat they know only by the labels pastedrnon them by others.) In Bonfire, Wolfe exposedrnthe warts beneath the expert makeuprnon the shining countenances of everyrninstitution and nearly every major ethnicrngroup in New York Cit)’, revealing thernself-appointed, supreme American beautyrnfor what she is—a decayed, pox-riddenrnharlot. The novel is a rollicking good storyrnthat one does not have to be a NewrnYork Review of Books reader to enjoy. Butrnas George Garrett has pointed out, comingrnfrom a Southerner like Wolfe, suchrnan attack is a breach of manners equivalentrnto a dagger between the ribs.rnWhen the movie version of 6o?7/]re (arndeserved flop) came out, my puzzlementrnwas not satisfied. Every major characterrnin the book —every telling point in thernbook —was transformed. In the novel,rnthe Southern belle who catalyzes the plotrnis unscrupulous, but intelligent andrnforceful; in the movie, she is a simperingrnidiot. The unsympathetic Jewish judge isrnchanged to a sympathetic black one.rnHad Hollywood caught on and deliberatelyrnblunted the dagger? Or was it simplyrnanother case of the usual vulgarizationrnof text?rnThen came A Man in Full. Surelyrnthey could see it now? Thev could, ofrncourse, pass the novel off as an expose ofrnthe always despicable South (the repulsivernworld of New South businessmen,rnracism, college athletics, and phonyrncommercial religion) if thev hadn’t readrnthe book. But the most telling masksnatchingsrnin A Man in Full reveal thernproletarianization of the white workingrnclass in California, the social wreckagernleft behind by the flower children, and arnless-than-complimentary view of upwardlyrnmobile blacks and immigrants. One isrnordinarily allowed to write about none ofrnthese—except in the style of Pollyanna.rnMaybe some of them are catching on?rnIn “Mv Three Stooges,” Wolfe hilariouslyrnrecounts the efforts of Mailer, Irving,rnand Updike to damn A Man in Full, uprnto and including spluttering obscene haranguesrnon television that were intendedrnto convince the world that Wolfe is not,rnlike them, a real writer and that his worksrnreally don’t rank as American literature,rnat least among “us” (the New York intelligentsiarnwho really count).rnThe essays (if that is the right term)rnand one fiction stor)’ in Hooking Up are,rnwithout exception, gems of observation,rnunderstanding, and style. They bringrnWolfe’s laser beam further into forbiddenrnterritory, revealing still more unfashionablernfacets of American life: The catastrophicrncollapse of culture and morals isrnthe overriding motif Wolfe, in his reportage,rntraces significant phenomena,rnthe kind that “intellectuals” always miss:rnthe engineers and entrepreneurs whorncreated Silicon Valley and the revolutionrnit symbolizes; the thinkers (including EdwardrnO. Wilson) who have brought thernattention of the world, for better or worse,rnback from nurture to the centralit)’ of nature;rnthe deplorable state of American art,rnarchitecture, education, and the novel.rnBeneath the motif of decadence liesrnanother, softer one: that of a society livingrnon the remnants of Christianity —thernMidwestern Protestant background ofrnthe pioneer computer geniuses is a casernin point. And in the story “Ambush atrnFort Bragg,” Wolfe exposes —beyondrnmercy-the dishonest)’, ignorance, andrnegotism behind the production of televisionrn”news.” Ifthey don’t get the messagernnow, they never will; and I expect therntelevision celebrities are too far gone inrnself-worship and empire-think ever to seernthemselves in the stark Hght of truth.rnAnyone concerned about the state ofrneducation in America will do well tornheed Wolfe’s treatment of academia andrn”intellectuals.” Another one, right be-rn28/CHRONICLESrnrnrn