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A Tale of Two Memoirs: A Moment Of War Versus As It Happened

A Moment Of War by Laurie Lee

In the realm of literature, war has been a recurring theme explored by authors in various forms. In this comparative study, we will delve into two distinct accounts of wartime experiences as depicted in the works “A Moment Of War” by Laurie Lee and “As It Happened” by William S. Paley. Both memoirs offer intimate glimpses into the chaos and devastation wrought by conflict, yet do so from vastly different perspectives and settings. While Lee’s narrative is rooted in his firsthand involvement in the Spanish Civil War, Paley’s account provides a firsthand view of World War II from a communications executive’s vantage point. By juxtaposing these two texts, we aim to explore the commonalities and differences in their portrayals of war, as well as the unique insights they offer into the human experience amidst such turmoil.

Brief Summary of Two Books

A Moment Of War by Laurie Lee

“A Moment of War” by Laurie Lee is a memoir that recounts the author’s experiences as a soldier during the Spanish Civil War. Lee joins the International Brigade in order to fight against fascism in Spain, leaving behind his peaceful life in England. The book follows Lee’s journey from his initial idealistic beliefs about the war to the harsh realities he faces on the battlefield.

Throughout the book, Lee vividly describes the brutal conditions of war, the camaraderie among soldiers, and the impact of violence on both the body and the mind. He gives readers a firsthand account of the hardships and horrors of war, as well as the moments of courage and humanity that he witnesses.

As the conflict intensifies, Lee becomes disillusioned with the war and the political motivations behind it. He struggles with feelings of guilt and doubt, questioning the worthiness of his cause and the violence he witnesses and participates in. Ultimately, “A Moment of War” is a powerful and poignant reflection on the nature of war, the complexities of human experience, and the lasting impact of violence on the individual.

As It Happened by William S Paley

“As It Happened” is a memoir by William S. Paley, the legendary founder and longtime chairman of the CBS television network. In the book, Paley recounts his incredible rise in the broadcasting industry, from turning a failing radio network into one of the most prominent television networks in the world. He also shares anecdotes about his interactions with famous personalities of the time, such as presidential administrations and Hollywood stars. Overall, “As It Happened” provides a fascinating look at the history of broadcasting and Paley’s role in shaping the industry.

Comparison between Two Books

A Moment Of War by Laurie Lee

Similarities in Memoirs

One similarity between A Moment Of War by Laurie Lee and As It Happened by William S Paley is that both memoirs recount their own personal experiences during significant historical events. In A Moment Of War, Laurie Lee shares his experiences as a young soldier fighting in the Spanish Civil War, while As It Happened by William S Paley details his rise to prominence in the broadcasting industry and his role in shaping media coverage during World War II.

Furthermore, both memoirs provide vivid and detailed descriptions of the challenges and hardships faced by the authors during these tumultuous times. Lee’s account of the harsh conditions of war and his struggle to survive in a foreign land is echoed in Paley’s narrative of the intense pressure and responsibility he felt while overseeing radio broadcasts during wartime.

Additionally, both memoirs offer valuable insights into the personal growth and development of the authors as they navigate the challenges and obstacles posed by their respective experiences. Lee’s reflections on the impact of war on his understanding of humanity and Paley’s musings on the power of media to shape public opinion both demonstrate a deep sense of introspection and self-awareness.

Overall, A Moment Of War by Laurie Lee and As It Happened by William S Paley are both captivating memoirs that provide readers with a unique glimpse into the lives and experiences of two individuals who played significant roles in shaping the history of their time.

Divergences in Memoirs

A Moment of War by Laurie Lee and As It Happened by William S. Paley are both memoirs that recount the authors’ experiences during significant events in history – Lee during the Spanish Civil War and Paley during World War II.

One major divergence between the two memoirs is the perspective from which the events are described. In A Moment of War, Laurie Lee writes from a more personal and introspective viewpoint, focusing on his own thoughts, feelings, and experiences during the war. He delves into his emotional reactions to the turmoil and upheaval surrounding him, providing a deeply personal account of his time as a soldier on the front lines.

On the other hand, As It Happened by William S. Paley takes a more objective and factual approach to recounting his experiences during World War II. Paley, as a media executive, provides a more detached and observational perspective on the war, focusing on the larger events and historical context rather than his own personal feelings and experiences.

Overall, the divergence between the two memoirs lies in the authors’ approaches to telling their stories – one focusing on personal emotions and experiences, while the other provides a more objective and factual account of historical events. Each memoir offers a unique insight into the impact of war on individuals and society, shedding light on different aspects of these pivotal moments in history.

A Moment Of War by Laurie Lee


Both “A Moment of War” by Laurie Lee and “As It Happened” by William S. Paley are highly acclaimed books and are considered worthy of reading for different reasons.

“A Moment of War” is a memoir by Laurie Lee that chronicles his experiences as a soldier in the Spanish Civil War. It is praised for its vivid portrayal of war and its impact on individual lives, as well as its lyrical prose and evocative descriptions of the Spanish landscape. It offers a unique perspective on a tumultuous period in history and provides insight into the human cost of conflict.

“On the other hand, “As It Happened” by William S. Paley is an autobiography by the renowned media executive and founder of CBS. It offers a behind-the-scenes look at the rise of broadcasting in the 20th century and provides insight into the workings of the media industry from a key figure within it. Paley’s personal anecdotes and reflections on the evolution of television and radio make this book a valuable resource for anyone interested in media history.

Ultimately, both books offer valuable perspectives on different aspects of history and society, and the choice between them may depend on the reader’s personal interests and preferences. Regardless of which book you choose to read, both “A Moment of War” and “As It Happened” are considered worthy of attention and are likely to provide a rewarding reading experience.

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