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Lee Miller's War by Antony Penrose
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Lee Miller's War

by Antony Penrose

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Lee Miller is a fascinating woman. She was a model and muse to photographers like Man Ray and took up surrealist photography herself among other talents. Following the Normandy invasion, Miller got herself credentialed as a war correspondent. She followed the progress of the American armed forces and the liberation of France, Luxembourg, and Germany for Vogue magazine of all publications (apparently her grim photographs of the war dead ran pages after typical fashion advice articles). Miller's son Anthony Penrose says that his mother didn't speak much of the war. In Lee Miller's War (1992) Penrose collects the dispatches, letters, telegrams, and most importantly the evocative photographs of Lee Miller's war experience.

Compared to Ernie Pyle, these stories have something of a women's touch. Granted, Miller was often restricted from the frontlines against her wishes, although on one occasion she found herself in the heart of battle. More typically Miller is left to cover the fashion of Paris and how Parisians "dressed up" as an act of defiance against the occupying Germans. There's even photos and descriptions of Paris' first fashion show post-occupation. Miller also hobnobs with celebrities of the time like Picasso, Cocteau, and Collette which is interesting in that I never stopped to think that these well known people lived under German occupation. A similar novelty is the liberation of Luxembourg. It's rare to hear about the war from the point of view of Luxembourg and its people.

Don't be misunderstood though. Lee Miller confronts the war in all it's grim and gritty nature. Her visceral distaste for the German POW's and civilians lends an immediacy to the war correspondence. Her photos of liberated concentration camps capture all the horror while lending dignity to the survivors. She also ended up staying in Hitler's Munich apartment where she was famously photographed in the bathtub.

This is a fascinating book to read and study. As always, MetaFilter has a couple of good posts with links relating to Lee Miller's life and work.
Author: Miller, Lee, 1907-1977.
Title: Lee Miller's war : photographer and correspondent with the Allies in Europe, 1944-45 / foreword by David E. Scherman ; edited by Antony Penrose.
Publication: Info. Boston : Little, Brown, c1992.
Edition: 1st North American ed.
Description: 208 p. : ill. ; 29 cm. ( )
  Othemts | Jun 26, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0500285586, Paperback)

The full range of Lee Miller's outstanding photographs from World War II, accompanied by her brilliant dispatches.

Lee Miller's work for Vogue from 1941 to 1945 sets her apart as a photographer and writer of extraordinary ability. Her words combine immediacy with acute observation, and deep personal involvement with professional detachment. Complementing her writing here are two hundred remarkable photographs from the Lee Miller Archives. They show war-ravaged cities, buildings, and landscapes; but above all they portray war-resilient people—soldiers, leaders, medics, evacuees, prisoners of war, the wounded, the villains, and the heroes.

There is the raw edge of combat portrayed at the siege of St. Malo and in the bitterly fought Alsace campaign, and the disbelief and outrage Miller describes on witnessing the victims of Dachau. The war's horror is relieved by the spirit of postliberation Paris, where she indulged in frivolous fashions and recorded memorable conversations with Picasso, Cocteau, Eluard, Aragon, and Colette. The book ends with Miller's on-the-scene report giving a sardonic description of Hitler's abandoned house in Munich and the looting and burning of his alpine fortress at Berchtesgaden, which marked a symbolic end to the war. 160 duotone illustrations.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:05 -0400)

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