cover image The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of World War II

The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of World War II

Thomas Sanders, text by Veronica Kavass, intro. by Hampton Sides, Welcome, $45 (224p) ISBN 978-1-59962-085-5

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.)