America at War and in Living Color
April 26, 2013
What about the past? Do you remember in color?
Over sixteen million Americans served in the armed forces during World War II.
They experienced the war in color.
Why is it then, that our most iconic images of the war are in black and white?
A sailor kisses a nurse in Times Square. Eisenhower addresses the troops a few hours before D-Day. Battleships burn in Pearl Harbor.
America at War in Color has 256 pages divided into five sections. Each section begins with a two- or three-page introduction so the reader/viewer can enjoy over 220 pages of full color photographs many of which were taken by famous photographers (some of whom were made famous by the war). Our soldiers lived and fought the war in color. Whether it was the Red Cross, a purple heart, or the green green grass of home, the members of the Greatest Generation experienced the war in full color – the same way it is presented here. The images chosen result in a complete cycle of war from the dramatic to the sublime, humorous to the tragic, with anonymous to famous characters.
On Febuary 19, 1945, U.S. Marines raised the Stars and Stripes on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima in what has become one of the most famous images of the war. Most of us are familiar with that photograph in black and white. James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers wrote the foreword. His father was one of those men who raised the flag that day. Like my own father, Mr. Bradley was mostly silent about the war, especially that moment. He left his children autographed copies of the flag raising. All eight copies were in color. Bradley, in the foreword opines that black and white images present the war drained of the hues of reality.
Authors Stewart Binns and Adrian Wood offer readers the opportunity to see the war in the same manner in which the participants experienced it – in color. The images depict scenes from pre-war 1929 through the Japanese surrender in the Pacific. In addition to entertaining and educational texts, readers will appreciate a detailed chronology of major events of the war from 1933 through 1945. A brief bibliography precedes an extensive index of every photograph in the book. Picture credits frame a partially silhouetted shot of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and its ever-present sentinel.
Perhaps the most memorable image is one not shown in print. It is the mental image of an America at war –whether at home or on foreign soil – united in a deeply felt love of country that drives a determined will to win.