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Tarawa and the Marshalls: A Pictorial Tribute

By Eric Hammel. 160 pp. Zenith, 2008. $35.

Conway’s The War at Sea in Photographs, 1939–1945

By Stuart Robertson and Stephen Dent. 240 pp. Naval Institute Press, 2008. $54.95.

If every picture tells a story, the billions of shots snapped during World War II add up, appropriately, to an epic. Over the past few years, more and more previously unpublished photographs have been arranged in every format from cheesy to the most sumptuous of coffee-table slabs, which at times can seem disconcerting—even paradoxical—given the often gruesome nature of the subject matter. Still, it’s the quality of the story that counts. Eric Hammel (Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal) is a skilled master of this high-quality, high-end approach to history. With Tarawa and the Marshalls: A Pictorial Tribute, he turns his acute historian’s eye and pen toward yet another bloody Pacific struggle that yielded so many gut-wrenching images. In Conway’s The War at Sea in Photographs, 1939–1945, Stuart Robertson and Stephen Dent’s images are less “arty”— they run from 35mm grainy to classic— but their range and impact, abetted by cogent text, yields a credible, compelling overview.


Originally published in the July 2009 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here