In response to:
The Ordeal of George Patton from the December 31, 1964 issue
To the Editors:
As a student of military history I was pleased with John Phillips’ perceptive review of Ladislas Farago’s biography of that “quite mad” and colorful character of World War II, General George Patton, a mediocre Army careerist whom the conflict elevated to Horrible Example.
But as a student of the American language, I am surprised that Mr. Phillips (who inveighs against the “euphemisms” of butt-kisser and limey sunovabitch as too “genteel”) uses the overly-literary and genteel fuckings-up. If we are going to continue to write military history effectively we shall need the plural that not only sounds more straightforward and euphonious but which has been sanctioned by wide-spread use among the common people, both civilian and military. Surely the correct plural is fuck-ups.
Mr. Phillips has been guilty of a snafu (Situation Normal: All Fucked Up).
L. R. N. Ashley
February 25, 1965