Cozzens, James Gould, Maj

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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
M 5004-Information and Education Officer
Last AFSC Group
Primary Unit
1944-1945, 12th Air Force
Service Years
1942 - 1945

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by A3C Michael S. Bell to remember Cozzens, James Gould, Maj.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address
Williamstown, MA

Date of Passing
Aug 09, 1978
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Cremated, Location of ashes is unknown.

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 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
During World War II, Cozzens served in the U.S. Army Air Forces, at first updating manuals, then in the USAAF Office of Information Services, a liaison and "information clearinghouse" between the military and the civilian press. One of the functions of his office was in controlling news, and it became Cozzens’ job to defuse situations potentially embarrassing to the Chief of the Army Air Forces, Gen. Henry H. Arnold. In the course of his job he became arguably the best informed officer of any rank and service in the nation, a major by the end of the war. These experiences formed the basis of his 1948 novel Guard of Honor, which won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize.

Cozzens eschewed both fame and publicity, to the point that he publicly stated he would refuse a Nobel Prize when speculation that he was under consideration became prominent. In 1957, however, he broke with his long-standing penchant for privacy (for which he was dubbed "the Garbo of U.S. letters" in the article that resulted) and granted Time magazine an interview over the objections of his wife as the basis for its cover article of September 2, 1957, marking the release of By Love Possessed, for which Cozzens had been nominated for a second Pulitzer.

Short-story writer and critic Patrick J. Murphy wrote that Cozzens' responses during the interview were verbalizations of his writing style, often tongue-in-cheek, using parody and sarcasm, quoting other works without attributation, punctuated by laughter. As sometimes happened with his prose, this style did not translate well into print, and the results were further distorted because the information was gathered by one reporter but the article written by someone different.

An immediate barrage of published reader letters attacked Cozzens as being a snob, an elitist, anti-Catholic, racist and sexist, criticisms that were soon picked up by acerbic critics including Irving Howe, Frederick Crews, and Dwight Macdonald. He also became a symbol of "The Establishment" and the antithesis of the growing counterculture of the 1960s because his works negatively portrayed or lampooned those against authority and "the system".

Detractors painted Cozzens as a hardcore political and religious conservative, though he was never politically minded nor strongly religious. His attempts to counter this incorrect image met with little success, and he soon forfeited whatever fan base he gained from By Love Possessed. His reputation was further lambasted in 1968 by critics (in particular John Updike) of his final book, Morning, Noon, and Night, written for a youthful audience that had no interest in structured, complex style or themes that favored the notion of societal stability. As a result, sales of all his books suffered, and Cozzens virtually disappeared from the American literary scene for decades.

Selected works

Other Comments:
Date, time and place of birth: August 19, 1903, at 8:15 p.m., Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Date, place and cause of death: August 9, 1978, Martin Memorial Hospital, Stuart, Florida, U.S.A. (Pneumonia/Cancer of the spine)

Spouse: Sylvia Bernice Baumgarten (m. December 31, 1927 - January 30, 1978) (her death)
Wedding took place at City Hall in New York City, New York, U.S.A.

Father: Henry William Cozzens, Jr. (b. 1866 - d. January 24, 1920)
Mother: Mary Bertha Wood Cozzens (b. Nova Scotia, Canada, 1875 - d. April 1953, of cancer)

Remains: Cremated, location unknown. 
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 Unit Assignments
General Headquarters Air ForceUnited States Army Air Forces (USAAF)United States Air Forces in Europe (COMUSAFE/USAFE)12th Air Force
  1942-1942, M 0274, General Headquarters Air Force
  1942-1945, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)
  1943-1944, United States Air Forces in Europe (COMUSAFE/USAFE)
  1944-1945, 12th Air Force
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1945 World War II1
 Colleges Attended 
Harvard University
  1924-1926, Harvard University
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