Academic journal article Military Review

PORTRAIT OF WAR: The U.S. Army's First Combat Artists and the Doughboys' Experience in WWI

Academic journal article Military Review

PORTRAIT OF WAR: The U.S. Army's First Combat Artists and the Doughboys' Experience in WWI

Article excerpt

PORTRAIT OF WAR: The U.S. Army's First Combat Artists and the Doughboys' Experience in WWI, Peter Krass, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, 2007, 342 pages, $30.00.

Written in an accessible style, Portrait of War is the story of eight U.S. Army Soldier-artists recruited as captains to accompany the combat troops of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during World War I. Both the French and American high commands gave them passes to allow maximum access to occupied zones, battlefields, and trenches. These men found themselves amid the fiercest combat that American troops participated in, including campaigns in the Marne, Belleau Wood, and Meuse Argonne. By using "their heightened powers of observation, the artists not only recorded but also exposed history as it unfolded."

The pre-war artistic histories of these men are impressive: for example, Wallace Morgan had an artist's studio for 10 years prior to the war; George Harding was teaching art at the University of Pennsylvania; Harry Townsend had studied under Howard Pyle and been an illustrator for major journals; and Harvey Dunn was an associate of N.C. Wyeth. The only one who had had military training was J. Andre Smith, but the training was minimal. Throughout their wartime experiences, the eight artists successfully fought off pressure to act as propagandists for the U. …

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