The Agony Of The Indianapolis

She was the last major American warship sunk during World War II, and her sinking was the single worst open-sea disaster in our naval history. How could it have happened?

On July 16, 1945, the heavy cruiser Indianapolis departed the California coast for the Pacific island of Tinian. On board was a heavily guarded top-secret cargo destined to end the war. Only hours before the Indianapolis began her high-speed journey, the first successful atomic detonation had ushered in the nuclear age. The cruiser itself carried vital elements of the atomic bomb that would be dropped on Hiroshima. Even Captain Charles B.Read more »

Looking For The Good Germans

The victors divided the Germans into three groups: black (Nazi), white (innocent), and gray—that vast, vast area in between

I was one of these moralists in khaki. A newspaperman and radio writer in civil life, only a few days after the German surrender in May, 1945,1 took my place behind a battered pine desk in a bomb-cracked building in Munich that originally had served as an old-folks home and later as headquarters for the German army service of supply. Read more »

“Suddenly, There Were The Americans”

A British schoolboy sees the quiet English countryside come alive with excitement toward the end of 1943 when …

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II. Bats Away!

It is early 1945. An American bomber crew is anxiously nearing the now familiar islands of the Japanese Empire. Flak begins to burst around the plane as the target comes into view. The bombardier releases the payload, and the crew watches as thousands of incendiary bats plummet toward the paper cities of Japan. Read more »

A Painter At War

The Combat Art of Albert K. Murray

The camera is a marvelous instrument,” says the portrait artist Albert K. Murray, “but when it comes to covering a war, it has its limitations. The artist’s imagination can go where the lens cannot and adds a unique distillate to everything he paints.” Born in 1906 at Emporta, Kansas, Murray was already a well-known painter when he joined the Navy shortly after Pearl Harbor as one of only six American Navy combat artists.Read more »

A Postage Stamp History Of The U.S. In The Twentieth Century

Here is the federal government’s own picture history of our times—and it tells us more than you might think

FEW ARE AWARE of a major publishing project that has been sponsored by the federal government and some of our leading citizens over the past eight decades. It is a lavishly illustrated history of the United States in our times and it comes in parts—on postage stamps, to be precise. The story it tells may say as much about how we see ourselves as about what we’ve done since 1900. Read more »

Merci, America

How a Whole Nation Said Thank You

They arrived in America chocked and chained, deep in the hold of a French merchant ship early in February of 1949. During two wars they had served France as dual-purpose railroad boxcars hauling the military cargoes stenciled on their sides: “ Hommes 40—Chevaux 8 .” But now the cars held neither men nor horses. All had been repaired, freshly painted, and decorated with plaques bearing the coats of arms of the forty provinces of France.Read more »

History And The Imagination

As three recent films show—one on the atomic bomb, one on women defense workers during the Second World War, one on the government arts projects of the thirties —this history of our times offers film makers arresting opportunities. Footage shot on the spot supplies a measure of raw actuality, and survivors are still available for interview. The real problem is to give abundant but diffuse materials a shape and structure. This is not, however, a problem that automatically solves itself. Read more »

When I Landed The War Was Over

A veteran news correspondent recalls his days as a spotter plane pilot

The idea is simple and sound and goes back at least to the American Civil War: to direct artillery fire intelligently, the higher you are above the target, the better. At ground level it’s difficult to tell just how far short or long your shells are falling. In the Civil War they used balloons; in the First World War they were still using balloons, along with airplanes equipped with telegraph keys; in the Second World War the airplane had supplanted the balloon, but just barely.Read more »