Aftershock: The Human Toll of War: Haunting World War II Images by America's Soldier Photographers

Michael Williams (Author) Richard Cahan (Author)
& 1 more


The world was in ruin at the end of World War II: from the Blitz in London to the aftermath of the atomic bomb blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

A small group of Army soldiers witnessed it all.

They photographed Germany's last push, the Battle of the Bulge, and they rode into Germany to witness unimagined destruction. They documented the Burma Road, which opened Mainland China to supplies, and saw war atrocities as far away as the Philippines.

These soldier photographers are acclaimed for their war photographs, but their work showing the impact of total war has never been compiled in a book.

As towns fell and the result of years of war were being laid bare, the world began to comprehend the impact of the war. Ruined cities were unearthed. The gates of concentration camps were flung open. Former prisoners, captured soldiers, and desperate refugees scoured the landscape for food and shelter.

These GIs used cameras instead of guns, witnessing and capturing the loss and destruction on film. Their work is a remarkable record of pictures that is now housed at the National Archives. The photos they left behind are beautiful and brutal: cemeteries and churches. POWs and DPs. Surrenders and suicides. Liberators and prisoners.

Many of the photos have never before been seen. None have been seen like this--scanned directly from original negatives for this book. Aftershock is a permanent record that shows what these soldiers saw. And it tells the story of these young photographers, whose lives were changed forever because of 1945.

Product Details

$49.95  $45.95
Cityfiles Press
Publish Date
November 15, 2019
9.3 X 1.2 X 11.1 inches | 3.79 pounds
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About the Author

Richard Cahan, Mark Jacob and Michael Williams are noted photo-historians. They use large photo archives to tell visual stories about people and events that should not be forgotten.

Cahan was the former picture editor at the Chicago Sun-Times and led CITY 2000, an award-winning photography project that documented Chicago. Jacob is a former editor at the Chicago Tribune and was part of the team that won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism. Williams is the co-author and designer of more than twenty books. This team has put together noted books about photographers Vivian Maier and Richard Nickel as well as the recent book Un-American, about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.


"Cahan and Williams continue their photographic inquiry into WWII... with a staggering collection of images taken in 1945 by U.S. Army Signal Corps photographers. With coauthor Jacobs, they present visual reckonings with 'the cruelty and ugliness of total war, ' unflinching portraits of the wounded and the dead, of cities bombed to rubble, of wary children and starving refugees, prisoners of war and imprisoned war criminals. These brave photographers--for whom the authors provide brief bios and from whom they share striking comments, such as 'even victory was traumatic'--were among the first to reach the concentration camps, where they overcame horror to document a fresh hell on earth. Images of Japan after the atomic bombings are devastating in a whole other dimension. Many of these intensely detailed, richly toned, brilliantly composed photographs preserve surreal and wrenching juxtapositions..."
- Booklist, Starred Review