On a journey of discovery to historical sites? Download the TracesOfWar app directly on Google Play or the Apple App Store.

The Price of Valor

Title:The Price of Valor - The Life of Audie Murphy, America's Most Decorated Hero of World War II
Writer:Smith, D.A.
Published:Regnery History
Published in:2015

During and in the decades following World War 2, few Americans were as well known and loved as Audie Murphy. This status was caused by two things. Murphy turned out to be a born soldier and became America’s most decorated soldier in World War 2. This of course made him a hero in the eyes of many, but he also became a very popular movie actor in the years following the war.

David A. Smith’s biography of Murphy repeatedly mentions that Murphy was not an especially talented actor. He played a few characters that more or less connected with his own personality an for this he received some critical acclaim. But Murphy generally had a lot of problems showing his emotions in front of a camera. As a result of this, by far the most of his movies (a lot of which were westerns) are not that special in the eyes of the critics.

But the public tends to look at movies differently than critics do, and the fact that Murphy would never win an Oscar did not hurt his popularity. He gained this as a war hero and maintained it as a movie star. But that same war had left deep scars on the Texan’s soul. In his first battles, Murphy and his comrades looked down on soldiers who couldn’t handle the stress of the battlefield anymore. But as the war went on and Murphy saw and experienced terrible things, he too felt the traumatizing effects of it all.

As the title of the book says: Audie Murphy paid the price for his valor. Not only did he consider the men who didn’t survive the war the real heroes; he was also severely traumatized by what he had seen and done. The public saw him as an all American boy, a war hero and a hero of the big screen. But Murphy was plagued by terrible nightmares from which he awoke screaming and on more than one occasion he emptied the loaded gun he always kept under his pillow. He had an enormous gambling problem and liked to invest his money in high risk projects, just to experience some of the thrills he had gotten used to on the battlefield.

Smith does not judge, but very clearly writes how Audie Murphy’s live progressed and which effects this had on the man himself. The actual book is just 170 pages, which gives the reader the impression that certain parts of the story could have been handled more extensively. But aside from that, this is a good and well deserved biography of a man that, even in the country that not so lang ago considered him a national hero, has already been forgotten or never even known by many.

Rating: Very good


Article by:
Vincent Krabbendam
Published on:
Send it!