Sailor: Vintage Photos of a Masculine Icon


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There may be nothing like a dame, but there's something about a sailor--Alfred Eisenstaedt's famous V-J Day photo of a sailor sweeping a nurse off her feet in a jubilant kiss has a prominent place in our common imaginations. Somewhere in the landscape of everyone's childhood there's a portrait of a sailor on a dusty bureau top, evoking exotic travel and the romance of the sea. Who hasn't at one time dreamed of being a sailor? From his trademark white cap to his bell-bottom pants, a boy in a sailor uniform is a byword for fresh-faced youth and inexperience, optimistic and adventurous, up against the wiles of old salts and sophisticated cities. He has "the good looks, cheery health, and frank enjoyment of young life" embodied in Melville's Billy Budd. He's also an emblem of swaggering masculinity and romantic opportunity. Whether pining for the girl he left behind or bragging of conquests in foreign ports-of-call like Hong Kong, Panama City, or San Juan, we imagine him lonely and seeking companionship. Sailor gathers from private collections over 150 never-before-published snapshots and portraits spanning more than a century of maritime experience. The photographs in this book give us close-up glimpses of a larger-than-life figure. For lovers of old photographs and serious collectors, for those with nostalgic memories of Navy days and for anyone who has ever daydreamed of a sailor's life on the high seas--this is a must-have volume. The images comprise a unique record of youthful exuberance and masculine camaraderie, intriguing as artifacts and occasionally breathtaking in visual beauty. In their intimacy they provide a fascinating and very human window on a mythic past.
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