At Ease: Navy Men of World War II

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9780810948051: At Ease: Navy Men of World War II

A pictorial record of the Navy during World War II forgoes the common depictions of battle in favor of showing the sailors themselves, as they trained, prepared, and found time to relax in the shadow of war.

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About the Author:

Longtime collector of photographs and amateur photographic historian, Evan B. Bachner has a BA in History from SUNY-Binghamton (specializing in post-war American history), as well as an MBA from Columbia University Graduate School of Business, where he was a Harriman Scholar. He currently works as a Vice President of Technology Development at Goldman Sachs & Co, and lives in New York City with his life partner.

From Publishers Weekly:

Books such as The Greatest Generation have eloquently argued that the men and women who survived World War II played a crucial role in determining America’s national culture; to some extent, Bachner agrees with this thesis. "Our current image of American masculinity was formed at that particular moment in time," he writes in the introduction to this moving book of duotone photos. But the image that was passed down most often suggested that Real Men were loners, rugged individuals who relied on no one. According to Bachner, however, the photographic record "flatly contradicts that notion." During his six years of research in the Still Pictures Branch of the National Archives and Records Administration, he unearthed a trove of Navy photos that "display a tender regard and closeness among men largely alien to our contemporary culture." Most of these images were taken by the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit, which was commanded by the famous photographer Edward J. Steichen for most of WWII. Many have never been published. Why were these servicemen able to form such affectionate friendships? In answer, Bachner quotes John D’Emilio: "Living in close quarters, not knowing whether they would make it through the war, and depending on one another for survival, men of whatever sexual persuasion formed intense emotional attachments." Whatever the reason, these gorgeously composed, evocative images suggest that men then, as now, could let down the John Wayne stance to share a cigarette, laugh over a joke and do a little roughhousing.
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