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Book Review of Our Finest Hour

Title: Our Finest Hour: The Triumphant Spirit of America's World War II Generation
Author: Killian Jordan (ed.)
Publisher: Time Inc. Home Entertainment
ISBN: 1-883013-98-4

Life magazine has chosen 185 historic photographs of life during World War II and compiled them in the book Our Finest Hour: The Triumphant Spirit of America's World War II Generation, edited by Killian Jordan.

The book begins with the attack on Pearl Harbor. I must have studied the first spread in the book for half an hour because it contains the first draft of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "This Day in Infamy" speech, which I had never seen before. Did you know that "infamy" was originally going to be "world history"?

Though the 185 photos that are spread throughout the book's 192 pages each tell a personal story, they also personify the feelings and experiences of thousands if not millions of other Americans. A husband and wife saying goodbye, letters written and received from loved ones across a sea, loneliness, and camaraderie depict life both in the war and on the home front.

Each picture is accompanied by a quote and a small description. I found the furlough greetings on page 48 humorous, such as "I don't see why you don't write more often, with all the free time you boys have." I found some of the descriptions equally sorrowful, such as when the description told me that the five smiling navy men in the picture on page 152 were all brothers and went down on the same ship in 1942.

The photos and text not only cover the commonly known events of the war, they also include women at war, black troops, Japanese-American internment camps, and a scientific study of starvation conducted in Minnesota (I hadn't known that one).

Our Finest Hour offers a fantastic photographic journey of World War II because it portrays real people fighting in a real war. I highly recommend this book for your personal collection or as a gift for anyone interested in this period of history.

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