BOOKS: MY BUDDY.

DNA Magazine - - CONTENT #221 -

My Buddy re­veals an ex­tra­or­di­nary hid­den side to World War II with young Al­lied troops dis­charg­ing ten­sions by frol­ick­ing in bois­ter­ous, naked play and form­ing in­ti­mate, ten­der “buddy” friend­ships.

Com­man­ders en­cour­aged their troops to form close re­la­tion­ships for emo­tional sup­port and to help them cope with the hor­rors of com­bat. That these im­ages ex­ist at all is as­ton­ish­ing as cam­eras were rare and film hard to process, but some men did man­age to doc­u­ment this un­prece­dented male bond­ing. These small, anony­mous pho­tos were mostly kept hid­den away un­til after their deaths.

Pho­tog­ra­pher Michael Stokes has spent years search­ing out these rare vin­tage pho­tos and build­ing an ar­chive of over 500 im­ages. His col­lec­tion in­cludes sol­diers and sailors from Australia, Eng­land, France, Italy, Poland, Russia and the USA. The im­ages are com­ple­mented by fas­ci­nat­ing texts. The in­tro­duc­tion is by Scotty Bow­ers, an 89-year-old ex-Ma­rine and au­thor of Full Ser­vice, the best-sell­ing memoir of his sex­ual ex­ploits in Hollywood. He re­veals how the war for­ever al­tered his at­ti­tudes about gay and straight.

Es­teemed writer and ser­vice­man Gore Vi­dal and Alan Berube (Com­ing Out Un­der Fire: The His­tory Of Gay Men And Women In World War II) also con­trib­ute il­lu­mi­nat­ing texts. Orig­i­nally pub­lished back in 2014 but now out of print, Taschen have reis­sued this re­mark­able book in a new, cheaper hard­cover for­mat.

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