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About the Book

Audie Murphy was the most decorated American soldier of World War II and is regarded as one of the country's greatest heroes. He stood for what were once considered timeless American virtues, virtues which seemed to be reflected on his boyish face: innocence, humility, honesty, and underneath it all a steely courage and determination. They were also the virtues that Americans regularly saw displayed on the big screen through actors like Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart. And it was an actor—an enormously popular Hollywood star—that Audie Murphy would become in the years after the war, starring in a long string of Westerns, capitalizing on his all-American charm.

But behind that boyish face and humble demeanor was a man scarred by a young life of uncertainty and deprivation, by a father who left his family, by the early death of his mother, and by the circumstances that forced his younger siblings into an orphanage. And above it all there was his experience in the war. Murphy performed nearly unbelievable feats of heroism. His skill as a marksman turned the tide of battles. He loved the Army, but the war left deep scars, not only physical, but mental and emotional, including a survivor's sense of guilt.

Murphy suffered from what now is called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition that left him subject to terrible nightmares and bouts of sleeplessness, to a feeling of emotional numbness that led him to seek thrills, particularly in gambling, which bankrupted him by the end of his Hollywood career. He lived the American dream, and his life became an American tragedy.