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Book Review: America at War in Color by Stewart Binns and Adrian Wood

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The perimeter has been breached. Cancer appeared in my body. A patch of skin in my scalp, above my left eye tested positive for basal cell carcinoma. My wife and I were sitting in a private waiting room waiting for the Mohs procedure when I noticed America at War in Color on the table. World War II has fascinated me since childhood, so my wife was not the least bit surprised when I selected this book. It looked like a typical "coffee table" book; over-sized and soft covered, the typical collection-of-photos book that could be casually glanced through. I was wrong. The preface was a short quick read, and I began to flip through the first chapter. It didn't take long for me to realize that this book deserved my undivided attention. No sooner had I written down the title and authors was I called for the surgery.

Afterwards, tests proved that the doctor had removed all the malignant tissue, and I went home with my notes to order a very interesting book. America at War has 256 pages divided into five sections. James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers, wrote the foreword. 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).

Hundreds of the most famous photographs ever taken were of war time subjects and situations. Who can forget such iconic images as ships burning at Pearl Harbor, the flag raising at Iwo Jima, or the sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square. And all those shots were in black and white. 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.

Another surprise was that the photos begin with the status of the world in 1929 and international events that began to unfold that year. The photography, driven by the rapidly unfolding events of a worldwide war, accelerates the reader through a non-stop experience. This book was difficult to put down. I made it cover-to-cover in one session. It is a book that will find a place of distinction near my recliner, as I plan to revisit it often.

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