The Kissing Sailor by Lawrence Verria
The Mystery Behind the Photo That Ended World War II

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Individual particulars can only detract from the universality of the moment. Reading "The Kissing Sailor" convinced me not that the sailor was one man or another but that I couldn't care less who he was.
-WSJ online


On August 14, 1945, Alfred Eisenstaedt took a picture of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square, minutes after they heard of Japan's surrender to the United States. Two weeks later LIFE magazine published that image. It became one of the most famous WWII photographs in history (and the most celebrated photograph ever published in the world's dominant photo-journal), a cherished reminder of what it felt like for the war to finally be over. Everyone who saw the picture wanted to know more about the nurse and sailor, but Eisenstaedt had no information and a search for the mysterious couple's identity took on a dimension of its own. In 1979 Eisenstaedt thought he had found the long lost nurse. And as far as almost everyone could determine, he had. For the next thirty years Edith Shain was known as the woman in the photo of V-J DAY, 1945, TIMES SQUARE. In 1980 LIFE attempted to determine the sailor's identity. Many aging warriors stepped forward with claims, and experts weighed in to support one candidate over another. Chaos ensued.

For almost two decades Lawrence Verria and George Galdorisi were intrigued by the controversy surrounding the identity of the two principals in Eisenstaedt's most famous photograph and collected evidence that began to shed light on this mystery. Unraveling years of misinformation and controversy, their findings propelled one claimant s case far ahead of the others and, at the same time, dethroned the supposed kissed nurse when another candidate's claim proved more credible. With this book, the authors solve the 67-year-old mystery by providing irrefutable proof to identify the couple in Eisenstaedt's photo. It is the first time the whole truth behind the celebrated picture has been revealed.

The authors also bring to light the couple's and the photographer's brushes with death that nearly prevented their famous spontaneous Times Square meeting in the first place. The sailor, part of Bull Halsey's famous task force, survived the deadly typhoon that took the lives of hundreds of other sailors. The nurse, an Austrian Jew who lost her mother and father in the Holocaust, barely managed to escape to the United States. Eisenstaedt, a World War I German soldier, was nearly killed at Flanders.

About Lawrence Verria

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George Galdorisi began flying Navy search and rescue in the early 1970s, manning Vietnam-era helicopters with pilots who made up the initial cadre of Navy combat search and rescue teams. His flying career continued for over a quarter-century, culminating with flying the most modern Navy combat search and rescue helicopters embarked aboard U.S. aircraft carriers deployed to the Arabian Gulf. He has written about naval combat operations in a wide range of articles in professional journals and has published two successful novels of naval combat: The "Coronado" Conspiracy" and For Duty and Honor," Tom Phillips began his Navy career in Helicopter Attack Squadron (Light) Three (HAL-3) flying attack helicopters in Vietnam, including POW rescue operations with Navy SEALs. His flying career continued in squadrons with other CSAR veterans of Vietnam as shipmates. He continued his association with CSAR in operational staff positions, and, after retirement from active duty, was intimately involved in developing CSAR training materials for current CSAR pilots. He works as a Navy tactics analyst and a flight simulator instructor and continues to train today's CSAR crews. By Dr. David Hartman, one of the most respected Jewish theologians in the world today. He is the founder and director of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, a frequent lecturer in the United States, and author of several widely-acclaimed books, including two winners of the National Jewish Book Award and other books on this and the preceding page.
Published May 15, 2012 by Naval Institute Press. 224 pages
Genres: History, Arts & Photography, War. Non-fiction
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Below average
Reviewed by Eric Felten on May 18 2012

Individual particulars can only detract from the universality of the moment. Reading "The Kissing Sailor" convinced me not that the sailor was one man or another but that I couldn't care less who he was.

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