Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Faces of War: the Untold Story of Edward Steichen's WWII Photographers. by Mark D. Faram. Published by Berkley Caliber, New York, 2009.

Author Mark Faram brings little-known names in navy war photography to the forefront in his 2009 book, Faces of War. His contribution is a significant tribute to their effort. Through this book we are aware of photographers who were Southern Californians and who were selected by Edward Steichen to create a vision for Americans of the battles on the oceans and overseas during World War II. Dwight Long, Max Miller, and Charles Kerlee, originally from California, are among the ten chosen by Steichen (fashion and art photographer already well-known nationally)beginning in 1943.

Faces is an unusal review of the war, told in pictures many times, but the text here is a mix of ship and photographic biography. Because of how Americans then viewed the war in the Pacific, it is as if the images are the history of the naval battles, as far as those who weren't there are concerned, with captions and notes in the text mainly focused on the position and importance of a ship and the ones who filmed it and its crew in action and at rest. There are many portraits in the book as well, of Steichen and his photographers and of admirals and sailors. A particularly interesting introduction, "A Brief History of naval Photography" precedes the main portion of the book. At the end, Faram intimates that he much later studied photography in a course that had been offered since 1963 in photojournalism at Syracuse University, heritage of Steichen's team of photographers then twenty years earlier.

Asia in the maritimes

Asia Looks Seaward: Power and Maritime Strategy. Edited by Toshi Yoshihara and James R. Holmes. Published by Praeger Security International, 2008.

Toshi Yoshihara, an author and editor, is professor in the department of strategy and policy at the U.S. Naval War College. Most recently he was named John A. van Beuren Chair of Asia-Pacific Studies at the College. His vision seems to expose the maritime histories of Asian countries which directly border on Pacific waters, and where transportation of goods takes place in the busiest spheres of influence. Therefore he is an author to watch for his astute analysis of the interntaional policy in the region.

In this volume, in essays written by strategists and researchers, compare the policies and strategies of Great Britain and the United States regarding the region's maritime past and trade in oil and consumer goods. To get a sense of the importance of east-west exchange, it remains to look at trade and its affect on political ideals, on both sides of the pacific Ocean. Chapter four, "Clipper Ships to Carriers: U.S. Maritime Strategy in Asia" by Bernard Cole, p. 46 to 69, discusses how the U.S. reacted to trouble in Asian waters. Drawing on his perspective of the history, he claims (page 47), "The United States established an Asian naval presence even before it had a Pacific coast." That is a stunning comparison because it shows that trade in Chinese ports had been established for many years (probably almost half an century) by the early 1800s.

The book begins with the essay, "Imperial China and the Sea", by John Curtis Perry, and ends with "China-Southeast Asia Relations Problems and Prospects", by John Garofano. Author Garofano is co-editor of Deep Currents and Rising Tides, reviewed here earlier, which also drew word from Yoshihara and Holmes, editors of "Asia Looks Seward".

The Great Ice of 1973

It's all about the ice, even more significant this week with temperatures 14-degrees below zero, freezing the waters in many townships and cities on the Great Lakes (and of course in much of the eastern half of the U.S.) Detroit, especially since it is expected that they will get this treatment three times annually, according to wikipedia's Detroit page, actually lies on the Detroit River which feeds into Lake Erie.

In the image above, the city of Detroit lies just to the west of the river's debut out of Lake St. Clair (the middle splash of blue on this Landsat satellite photo.) The top of Lake Erie, one of the five Great Lakes, is shown at the bottom of the image.

Editors of The Detroit Marine Historian for the issue pictured above in black and white in February 1973 wrote in "The Log" on page 2 that: "In the 'Every little bit helps" department, the Ontario Provincial government has alloted a $7,000 grant to put the Muskoka Lakes passenger steamer SEGWUN into winter drydock. This should prevent further deterioration of the steamer-museum and permit a new chance at restoring her to active service. The Sierra Club, the national environmental and ecological advocate group, has doubts about extended navigation on the Great Lakes (emphasis mine)but this time their concern is less over the fish and other wildlife than over the men who man the midwinter fleets. Jonathan Ela, midwest Sierra representative pointed out that the danger of vessel breaking up in cold weather is greater than during the normal sailing season "and a seaman falling in would have five minutes to live."