A thoughtful and visually striking military survey.

TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY

THE EVOLUTION AND LEGACY OF 20TH CENTURY WAR MACHINES

A hybrid history and photographic gallery of 20th-century war machines.

After more than three decades as a research physicist with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, author Miller retired in 2003and focused his attention on photography. In this book, the third and final volume in a trilogy of history and photography books centered on 20th-century weaponry, he blends his knowledge of modern warfare with his keen eye for composition. Its first half provides a narrative overview of the last century’s “unprecedented calamity” of destructiveness, as humanity’s inclination toward violence combined with technological advancements. In the long view of world history, Miller notes, “one cannot help but be struck by the extreme spasms of violence and destruction.” The author expertly traces the development of war machines from the Industrial Revolution through two world wars and a string of Cold War conflicts, adding photos, timelines, and text-box vignettes along the way. Although the work is centered on technology, it also pays ample attention to the imperialism, racism, and ideological divisions that drove the century’s wars. The book’s second half features more than 100 original photographs of war machines taken at museums, historic sites, and parks around the United States and Canada. The well-lit and artfully framed black-and-white images, accompanied by informative text, provide stark commentary on the relationship between technological advancement and a sense of ambivalence toward human life. Miller’s extraordinary photos, which show such items as early Maxim machine guns, World War I–era tanks, massive battleships from World War II, and 1970s Pave Low helicopters, provide tragic reminders of humanity’s investment in deadly machines. Readers who are already familiar with this subject matter won’t find very much that’s new in the narrative portions, although the author’s research is solid and he presents it in an approachable yet learned style. However, the photographic second half is a frankly stunning commentary on the last century’s technological priorities.

A thoughtful and visually striking military survey.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-9862127-2-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: The Chelsea Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A rousing, suspenseful adventure tale.

MADHOUSE AT THE END OF THE EARTH

THE BELGICA'S JOURNEY INTO THE DARK ANTARCTIC NIGHT

A harrowing expedition to Antarctica, recounted by Departures senior features editor Sancton, who has reported from every continent on the planet.

On Aug. 16, 1897, the steam whaler Belgica set off from Belgium with young  Adrien de Gerlache as commandant. Thus begins Sancton’s riveting history of exploration, ingenuity, and survival. The commandant’s inexperienced, often unruly crew, half non-Belgian, included scientists, a rookie engineer, and first mate Roald Amundsen, who would later become a celebrated polar explorer. After loading a half ton of explosive tonite, the ship set sail with 23 crew members and two cats. In Rio de Janeiro, they were joined by Dr. Frederick Cook, a young, shameless huckster who had accompanied Robert Peary as a surgeon and ethnologist on an expedition to northern Greenland. In Punta Arenas, four seamen were removed for insubordination, and rats snuck onboard. In Tierra del Fuego, the ship ran aground for a while. Sancton evokes a calm anxiety as he chronicles the ship’s journey south. On Jan. 19, 1898, near the South Shetland Islands, the crew spotted the first icebergs. Rough waves swept someone overboard. Days later, they saw Antarctica in the distance. Glory was “finally within reach.” The author describes the discovery and naming of new lands and the work of the scientists gathering specimens. The ship continued through a perilous, ice-littered sea, as the commandant was anxious to reach a record-setting latitude. On March 6, the Belgica became icebound. The crew did everything they could to prepare for a dark, below-freezing winter, but they were wracked with despair, suffering headaches, insomnia, dizziness, and later, madness—all vividly capture by Sancton. The sun returned on July 22, and by March 1899, they were able to escape the ice. With a cast of intriguing characters and drama galore, this history reads like fiction and will thrill fans of Endurance and In the Kingdom of Ice.

A rousing, suspenseful adventure tale.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984824-33-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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