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The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of World War II Hardcover – October 12, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Just the cover of this book can break your heart: an aged man in closeup, every wrinkle and blemish visible, holding a U.S. Navy emblem to his forehead, and he appears above the title: The Last Good War. The veterans of that war, WWII, are captured in Sanders's debut--in their 80s and 90s, male and female, black and white. Some wear parts of their original uniforms; others hold artifacts of the time, like battalion photos, newspapers, or canteens. One sailor, dressed in white shirt and tie, still wears his cap at a jaunty angle. Oral historian Kavass has collected brief reminiscences from the veterans that don't underplay the horrors of war, from the Bataan march to the deaths of friends. But most memorable are the faces: solemn, proud, occasionally smiling, some looking directly into the camera, others looking off to the distance as if remembering the events of long ago. Anyone who is close to a member of the "greatest generation" will treasure these wizened faces captured before the entire generation is gone. (Oct.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A selection of The History Book Club and The Military Book Club.
Winner, 2010 Foreword Reviews' Book of the Year Award - Editor's Choice Nonfiction
“[A] richly produced book of contemporary portraits of WWII veterans and their stories that range from harrowing to humorous...A first-person narrative of the veterans’ WWII experiences gleaned from interviews and written by Veronica Kavass accompanies the meticulously rendered and brilliantly lit portraits by Thomas Sanders...This is not a sentimental retelling of America’s role in World War II. These are personal, gripping stories, told first hand. There is grit and blood, fear and heroism.”
- Chicago Tribune
"Photographer Thomas Sanders and oral historian Veronica Kavass set out to honor these hardy survivors before their stories pass from memory to history. The wrinkles on their faces testify to their pride and perseverance. Their eyes, dimmed with age but still full of vitality, have seen things that should not be forgotten."
- American History Magazine
“With heartfelt, perceptive variety, the remarkable portraits that distinguish this book reflect the range of their subjects’ experience. The concise text recounting each veteran’s reminiscences amplifies the impact. The combo hits home like a one-two punch.”
- World War II Magazine
"A brilliant collaboration of historic stories told from a variety of American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen who fought long and hard for the safety of their country."
- The Photo Review
"Tom Sanders has...created a book that stands as one of our last great visual links to the storied faces of World War II."
- Rangefinder Magazine
"This book contains a collection of 200 images that highlight the stories from pilots, soldiers, marines, and sailors to provide the reader with a clear understanding of a war that forever changed the world."
- Shutterbug Magazine
"The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of World War II pairs striking black and white photos by Thomas Sanders with a collection of the untold stories of World War II vets, creating a rich personal chronicle of war experience."
- California Bookwatch
"A fantastic collection of faces and voices from the generation of men and women who served in the United States, Europe and the Pacific during the last global conflagration...Each story deserves exceptional recognition, because each is special, intimate, poignant, captivating - worthy of capture in this volume."
- North County Times
Starred Review. Just the cover of this book can break your heart: an aged man in closeup, every wrinkle and blemish visible, holding a U.S. Navy emblem to his forehead, and he appears above the title: The Last Good War. The veterans of that war, WWII, are captured in Sanders's debut--in their 80s and 90s, male and female, black and white. Some wear parts of their original uniforms; others hold artifacts of the time, like battalion photos, newspapers, or canteens. One sailor, dressed in white shirt and tie, still wears his cap at a jaunty angle. Oral historian Kavass has collected brief reminiscences from the veterans that don't underplay the horrors of war, from the Bataan march to the deaths of friends. But most memorable are the faces: solemn, proud, occasionally smiling, some looking directly into the camera, others looking off to the distance as if remembering the events of long ago. Anyone who is close to a member of the "greatest generation" will treasure these wizened faces captured before the entire generation is gone.
- Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
THE LAST GOOD WAR is a smorgasbord of imagery and narrative. Some veterans are photographed in color; some in black and white. Many feature then-and-now pix. Some photographs have accompanying narratives; others just list the person's name, rank and branch of service. Some vets face the camera head-on; others look off to the side. Some are smiling; some pensive; some sad. Their faces reflect the quiet modesty, can-do determination and innate decency that typifies those of the Greatest Generation who fought in World War II. Typically, none enjoyed being called a "hero" but all avowed that they did serve with heroes!
The accompanying reminiscences, which vary in length from brief comments to three-page narratives, reflect those qualities. One ex-Army Private bluntly states "Nothing to say. It's in the past." Another Army vet, this time a Sergeant, admits "I do not watch war pictures or talk war. It is hell." A third remarks that "I spent five years in the Army. I was a damn good soldier." The lengthier pieces are often poignant remembrances of long-ago innocence,treasured comrades and exciting, sometimes terrifying, events.
It's easy to get swept up in the emotion of THE LAST GOOD WAR. Those men and women staring back at the reader could be that nice, elderly man who lives down the street or our grandfather or great-grandfather. Yet decades ago, those perfectly ordinary people accomplished extraordinary feats in defense of liberty. Their legacy can be found - and appreciated - in this marvelous book. Highly recommended.
Dedicated to the memory of SSgt. John J. O'Connor, 100th TCS, 441st TCG, 9th AF.
I am a younger reader who was not alive during WWII, but I found this book to be very powerful and well done. It will resonate, not only with those who lived through this period of history, but also with younger readers who are interested in learning more about WWII. I give it my top ratings.
The photographs are usually a full page as well as the veterans recollections, and usually included is a picture from the time period of WWII. The photos are harsh and give these men and women the view of wear and age, but with great dignity. There are footnotes to explain anything in the veteran's story that might bring about a question, whether it is a military term, a battle or a town or a military station.
In total this is a marvelous remembrance of WWII and history and the men and women that served and survived and were just doing their job and what was expected of them.
The one off-putting spot was a quote on one of the first pages of the book, "the world must know what happened, and never forget". This was a quote directly pertaining to the death camps; said by Eisenhower when he was visiting them. Yes it occurred during WWII, but it does not relate to not forgetting about the war... a better example could have been found to honor the whole of the war that these men fought.
Give this book it to a veteran or one who loves a veteran or the military service, it is a book to learn about history and most of all the men and women that make the history
My father-in-law, Ernie V. Cortez, is featured in this awesome book. We received this book two days before his 91st Surprise Birthday Party. As he entered the main door, he saw his closeup photo and as he picked up the book, he said: "this is the best 91st birthday gift". He shaked his head of disbelief that his STORY is finally told. Dad Ernie is now 91 years old and he still able to recount the event that took place during his successful escaped from the death march in Bataan, Philippines.
I personally would like to thank Thomas Sanders and Veronica Kavass in putting this book together. An awesome book. Dad Ernie has enjoyed being your guest of honor during the book signing and I am very honored to meet both of you as well. This book will be permanently displayed in our home to share with friends and family. Good luck.