WW II by James Jones


A Chronicle of Soldiering
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Not just another coffee-table picture book on World War II, but a collection of graphic art accompanied by James Jones' whittlings at his Schtick. As a whole, the paintings and drawings--accompanied by only a modicum of Sad Sack cartoons and period pinups--are remarkably mediocre and inexpressive. Howard Brodie's famous sketches of combat seem staged; the frankly propagandistic works like "Rosie the Riveter" bear an unsettling resemblance to socialist realism or Nazi graphics. Watercolors and charcoal serve the war reportage best--a sketch of shell shock at least evokes Goya, the watercolors capture some of the flux of battle. A pencil drawing of hiroshima flatness says more than a photo. Yet one concludes that photography serves as a far more powerful art form in the war theater. Jones, for his part, provides canny reassessments of battles and pseudo-ironic: macho anecdotes. He also suggests that American soldiers had no motivation but primordial love of war, and maunders about how history ignores the hairy lower-class soldier. Critics will have something to say about artists and works left out (perhaps the omission of Aaron Bohrod is no loss); the book poses absorbing problems as to why 20th century wars in general have produced no great art, and why these particular achievements are so impacted as reportage or creation. A certain seller nevertheless.
Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1975
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1975


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