Academic journal article Naval War College Review

The Kissing Sailor: The Mystery Behind the Photo That Ended World War II

Academic journal article Naval War College Review

The Kissing Sailor: The Mystery Behind the Photo That Ended World War II

Article excerpt

Verria, Lawrence, and George Galdorisi. The Kissing Sailor: The Mystery behind the Photo That Ended World War II. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2012. 268pp. $24.95

While I do not believe this photo caused the war to end, I do believe that the iconic picture by famed Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt of a sailor celebrating in Times Square on 14 August 1945 served for many as the joyous and emotional end to that horrible conflict. The picture captured a moment in time, when a sailor, a nurse, and a photographer came together in a moment of jubilation, and then went their separate ways without saying a word to one another.

When the photo was published in Life magazine several weeks later, it became very popular, and people began wondering about the lives of the kissers on the cover. Neither the magazine nor the photographer could provide their identities, and the mystery lingered for more than sixty years. As far as this reviewer is concerned, this clever new book, filled with forensic evidence and compelling documentation, conclusively settles the issue: the kissing sailor is George Mendonsa, a career fisherman from the historic coastal community of Newport, Rhode Island. Authors Verria and Galdorisi performed credible investigative journalism to sort through the stories of more than eighty sailors who have claimed to be the sailor on the cover. …

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