Novel by James Gould Cozzens, published in 1948 and awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
Landing at his Florida air force base, the plane of Major General Ira N. (“Bus”) Beal, a boyish hero of “simple-minded integrity,” is almost hit by a B-26 piloted by black 2d Lieutenant Stanley Willis, who is angrily thrashed by Beal's friend and pilot, the brave but arrogant Lieutenant Colonel Benny Carricker. The same day, Al James, a black journalist writing an article about the base, discovers that it illegally practices segregation and that there is a mystery about Willis's hospitalization and the arrest of some black officers who had protested against discrimination. The original problems are just being settled when at maneuvers honoring Beal, seven parachutists miss their target and drown in a lake. Col. Ross, a judicious older officer, reflects that since good and bad are inextricably bound together in the human condition, one can expect no more than that “a man must stand up and do the best he can with what there is.”
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James Gould Cozzens (1903—1978)