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US Navy War Photographs

ISBN: 0 517 455498
Review Date:

As the name implies, this book is almost exclusively US Navy War Photographs. The collection was originally compiled in 1945 by Captain Edward J. Steichen USNR, Director of the Naval Photographic Institute after Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal asked him to produce a book showing the scope of the Navy's war efforts in pictures. Forrestal wanted 6,000,000 copies ready within six months to be given (free of charge) to every US sailor as he returned home. Steichen pulled it off, but in the end the Navy could not come up with the money to provide the books free of charge. Steichen approached the producers of the book - the paper manufacturers, ink producers, printers, & book binders - asking them to forego their profits and produce the book at cost. The books were 108-page, 11 x 11.5-inch, paper-bound books with 100 large, high-quality images of the US Navy in action in all theaters. They were priced at 35-cents a copy and sold at the rate of a million copies a month.

The second edition came 35 years later in 1980. It was a hard-bound 8.5 x 11-inch book published by Steichen's friend and publisher Tom Maloney. In the 1945 book, Steichen did not include any of his own images but graciously only used photos from the many skilled Navy and Coast Guard combat photographers under his command. Maloney, in the second edition, stretched the original compliment by adding 6 or 7 of Steichen's photographs. This edition also includes eight pages of text by Maloney and Steichen that precedes the 112 pages of high-quality Navy photographs - one black & white image to a page, like the original.

The photographs in this book speak for themselves, but for anyone interested in World War II, and the naval role in particular, this book will hold a special place on the bookshelf. While copies may be challenging to find, the search was well worth the effort for this reader.

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Famous WW2 Quote
"Goddam it, you'll never get the Purple Heart hiding in a foxhole! Follow me!"

Captain Henry P. Jim Crowe, Guadalcanal, 13 Jan 1943