Review: America in Still Life
Over the years, I have been occasionally contacted by individuals that share their story of Jewish service or one of a friend or family member. Some of these are as simple as a reference to service mixed in with a thank you, but others give an amazing glimpse into the life of a Jewish service member. Last month I was fortunate to receive one of the latter.
In this case, I was contacted by Cap & Bells Press about their book about Barnett Greenberg, a Jewish soldier and artist, titled America in Still Life: Barnett Greenberg. It’s not a book I probably would have picket up otherwise, but I am so happy they introduced it to me.
Barnett George Greenberg was an unknown artist who was destined to be forgotten… until Donald Mahoney and Mark Morgan Ford came upon a cache of his work. Impressed by the quality of the drawings and paintings that Greenberg had left behind after his death, they tried to find out more about the man who had created them. What they discovered was a remarkable life.
Greenberg was a first generation Jewish American who served in a unique and important way in World War II. As a talented artist, he was selected to be a part of the “Ghost Army”, which created and executed an elaborate deception plan across Europe that enabled America’s success at Normandy and elsewhere. It’s a fascinating story in and of itself. If you want to learn more you should see the PBS documentary.
The book presents Greenberg’s art from before, during, and after the war intermingeld with a narrative of his life. His art is beautiful, but the added narrative provide an more intimate vision of his life. It’s the book equivalent of walking through an art gallery with an old friend of the artist to guide you.
I’ll be there first to admit that, while I very much enjoy paintings, I rarely seek out that form of art in books. With that said, I really enjoyed America in Still Life. Seeing excerpts from Greenberg’s wartime sketchbook, I couldn’t help but develop stories in my own mind about his experiences and what inspired the drawings. His works are beautiful and his story is an interesting one.
It’s a short and easy read – something that would be perfect for leaving out on a table for guests to peruse. You can’t help but be drawn in to the life and art that defined this unique man.
The book is available for purchase on Amazon.com.