New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1944. First Edition. First Printing. Octavo (21.25cm); yellow cloth, with titles stamped in black and red on spine and front cover; dustjacket; [x],179,pp. Signed by Miller in blue ball-point pen on the title page. Spine ends gently nudged, some trivial wear to lower board edges, with a hint of sunning to upper board edges, and a faint, shallow stain to lower edge of rear cover; Near Fine. Dustjacket is unclipped (priced $2.00), with two tiny tears at crown, and a faint vertical crease along left joint; a bright, very Near Fine example. Laid into this copy is an untitled seven-page carbon typescript on onionskin (8" x 10.5"), written by Miller in 1943, relating details about the book's conception; horizontal fold at center, staple holes at upper left corner, with two neat punctures along left margin; Very Good+.
Attractive copy of the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright's first book, based on his experiences researching the war correspondence of journalist Ernie Pyle. The title derives from the widely-used military acronym slang "SNAFU" (Situation Normal: All Fucked Up), which translates to a bad situation that is a normal state of affairs. Miller was tasked by Hollywood to gather material for "an honest movie" about American GI's during the war, about their training, daily life, their hopes, dreams, and why they are fighting. Miller visited several Army camps, training, living, and interviewing soldiers and taking down the unvarnished truth of his discoveries. "I was the person fate picked out of Brooklyn to go among the soldiers and pick up enough facts, honest-to-God true facts, to make a soldier picture which soldiers could sit through until the end without once laughing in derision. A picture that would properly end all soldier pictures" (p.1). The film in question was William A. Wellman's The Story of G.I. Joe, to be adapted by Miller for Lester Cowan from Pyle's 1943 book This Is Your War. Miller's version was ultimatley not produced, likely due to ideological differences and his leftist political leanings. The typescript, written the year before Situation Normal was published, summarizes the conception of the book, detailing his early meetings with Ernie Pyle over how his work would be translated into film, and what they wanted to accomplish. "I bring up the idea that it would be a shame to show this massive canvas without reducing what is chaos to at least an inkling of purpose and order, and of course he agrees. But we both feel that to lard on ideology where there is no ideology would be to wrap the truth. You can't have soldiers talking about four freedoms when all they want is to go home. Myself I curse the press and the million textbooks that turn out the billions of words and never add up to an excuse for dying" (typescript, p.5). A superlative copy of an important debut.