Zone of the interior : a memoir, 1942-1947 /

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Main Author: Hoffman, Daniel, 1923-
Format: Book
Published:Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University, c2000.
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Main Author:Hoffman, Daniel, 1923-

In World War II, "Zone of the Interior" designated military service within the continental United States. Many memoirs have been written by veterans of the European and Pacific theaters of action, but this book, by former poet laureate Daniel Hoffman, is among the first by a non-combatant, describing unusual experiences in military and civilian life on the home front.

A chance summer job while in college led, after a few weeks, to Hoffman's writing instruction manuals for the P-47C and B-17F. Called up in the Enlisted Reserve, he was sent to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. At twenty, he was given more responsibility than he has ever held since: directing the AAF Technical Data Digest, an abstracts journal that covered every phase of aeronautical research and development relevant to the Army Air Force. It was sent to air bases around the world, military contractors, and all Allied air attaches. This is a hitherto untold report of how the AAF retrieved and distributed essential technical data before the invention of computerized information processing.

Challenging as this assignment was, Hoffman, knowing that his friends and classmates were facing danger and death overseas, was beset by survivor's guilt, in the end accepting that he could but do what his assignment required him.

"Zone of the interior" has another meaning as well -- the interior life of a young man trying to discover his true self and become a poet. While the Digest gave him hard, practical instruction in writing terse, unambiguous prose, in stolen moments he read and tried to write poetry, requiring allusive, resonant language. Occasionally interspersed among a colorful cast of characters -- including aviation pioneerAssen Jordanoff, radical economist Lewis Corey, rabble-rouser Gerald L. K. Smith, boxer Billy Conn, and scientist Theodore von Karman -- are poems Hoffman wrote, either at the time or later, among them lines on first flight

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Physical Description:xiii, 136 p. ; 24 cm.
Author Notes:

Daniel Gerard Hoffman (April 3, 1923 to March 30, 2013) was an American poet, essayist, and academic. He was appointed the 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1973. Hoffman was born in New York City. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Corps an was stationed stateside as a technical writer and as the editor of an aeronautical research journal. He detailed his experiences in his memoir: Zone of the Interior, 1942-1947. He was educated at Columbia University, where he earned a B.A. (1947), an M.A. (1949), and a Ph.D. (1956).

In 1954, Hoffman published his first collection of poetry, An Armada of Thirty Whales. His other works included: Darkening Water, A Play of Mirrors, Beyond Silence: Selected Shorter Poems, 1948-2003, and The Whole Nine Yards: Longer Poems.

Hoffman died in an assisted living facility in Haverford, Pennsylvania on March 30, 2013. He was 89.

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