The human-animal bond is so special that it is not just visible to the human heart, but seems to leap out of pictures seen by the human eye.
A new book that is arriving in time for Veteran's Day on November 11, 2015 is full of such pictures. BUDDIES: Heartwarming Photos of G.I.'s and Their Dogs in WWII, by L. Douglas Keeney. Obviously, that means it's also released in time to be a holiday gift for your favorite history buff or dog lover. Keene is a best-selling author of more than a dozen books on American History. In 1992 he cofounded The History Channel which is now part of Discovery Communications.
Dogs aren't the only ones in the book with Servicemen. A variety of of Mascots appear including at least one monkey, a bird, well, you get the idea. Far and away, however dogs rule the day.
Photos of Servicemen and their dogs gave family members at home the feeling that their guys were not quite so alone. Propaganda? Yes, but the dogs did serve an important purpose in providing diversion, comfort and unconditional love for the men who shared their rations and lavished attention on them.
Along with the pictures there's enough dialogue to explain what was happening and put names to the dogs and other mascots, even giving some information about them when it was available. For example, a Boxer named Max was a full-fledged Paratrooper in the Army who earned his wings after 5 jumps. Hobo, a Navy dog, followed his friends when they took a beach. That's not something we usually think about and it was certainly news to me that a dog went along when a beach was taken. The book shows Servicemen and their Dogs, etc., from every Branch of the Service.
"I actually wrote this book 15 years ago -- well before I started writing full length non-fiction, said L. Dougas Keeney. "I accidentally ran across the first 40 of these photos while researching the photo well of another book. They immediately touched me -- I mean, I was sitting there in this large, neon lit research facility at the National Archives suddenly looking at photos of young men and their dogs juxtaposed against a world war. I was emotional and fascinated at the same time." Frankly, so was this reader.
"Buddies came out 15 years ago but my new publisher saw a bigger book in it so she contacted me and asked if I would expand it and, now, 15 years later, we finally have the book I envisioned all those many years ago. Warm. Poignant. A connection to men who are now in the 90s, seen when they were very young and very afraid but oh so brave."
It's hard to picture the young men in the pictures as they must look today but I hope many of them are alive to see themselves in this book. What a treasure it must be for their family members!
"As an author, I look for those lost voices that help today's readers understand our nations proud history," Keeney explains. "My new book on Roosevelt brings out the backroom dealings that led to the D-Day decision and through those dealings we get to know George Marshall, Winston Churchill, FDR and even Stalin in ways we never had before. Same with Buddies. Through these photos we see The Greatest Generation not as tired 90-year olds nursing a cup of coffee, but as they were -- young men pulled from their lives trying their best to survive, trying their hardest to help win this war, hoping beyond hope to do just one thing. Get home."
We owe this author a huge Thank You for bringing part of The Greatest Generation to us as they were during the war. Freedom is not free. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude and the sacred duty of keeping our country free. Reading Buddies is a very moving experience, something read and reread and treasure as a very real part of our history.
Published by Zenith Press, it's available wherever books are sold, both online and it brick and mortar stores. If you can't wait to read it, you can order it right now at Amazon. It retails for $19.99
Thanks to the publisher, one lucky PerPETuallySpeaking reader has the opportunity to win a copy of Buddies. Just leave a comment between now and Thursday, the 29th. Contest open to U.S. Residents Only.
NOTE: I was not paid for this review. I received only a review copy of the book.