“As World War II recedes in human memory, we are left largely with statistics, battles, generals, destruction. Back from Tobruk, Croswell Bowen’s memoir of the war in the desert in the summer of 1942—published, at last, more than forty years after his death—tells what the war was like for an American attempting to do his part as ambulance driver and photographer. It is a cultural gem, recording Bowen’s personal awakening to war’s reality at the most human, individual level. Deeply moving.”—Nigel Hamilton, author of Master of the Battlefield: Monty’s War Years 1942–1944
Back From Tobrukby Croswell Bowen, Betsy Connor Bowen
In 1941 photographer Croswell Bowen joined American Field Service volunteer ambulance drivers and served alongside the British Eighth Army during World War II. As the war continued to escalate, he would have his mental, emotional, and physical well-being tested beyond anything he ever imagined. Back from Tobruk is the remarkable account of one man’s/i>
In 1941 photographer Croswell Bowen joined American Field Service volunteer ambulance drivers and served alongside the British Eighth Army during World War II. As the war continued to escalate, he would have his mental, emotional, and physical well-being tested beyond anything he ever imagined. Back from Tobruk is the remarkable account of one man’s journey across a world torn apart, with only his camera and his moral convictions to guide him. As Bowen watched the number of wounded and dying soldiers grow, he struggled to understand the very nature of war itself. A lifelong Catholic and devoted pacifist, he tried to reconcile his commitment to nonviolence with his growing belief that the end of this war would finally bring peace to the world. As he spent time in hospitals and field dressing stations as both a caregiver and a patient, he witnessed soldiers reaching out to their former battlefield enemies, showing grace and compassion in a world seemingly bereft of both. “When the great leaders sit down at the peace table,” he wrote of his fellow servicemen, “they might take a lesson from those men.” Later a successful journalist and author, Bowen never forgot what he had witnessed during his time in Africa and the Middle East. Back from Tobruk documents the brutality of war and the resilience of the human spirit.
- Potomac Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Meet the Author
CROSWELL BOWEN wrote extensively for PM, the New Yorker, Harper’s, Town and Country, and Cosmopolitan, among other publications, in the 1940s and 1950s. His books included the National Book Award–nominated The Curse of the Misbegotten: A Tale of the House of O’Neill (1959). He died in 1971.
BETSY CONNOR BOWEN, one of Croswell Bowen’s three daughters, has worked as a college professor, journalist, and filmmaker. The author of the novella Spring Bear (2012), she lives in Maine with her family and serves on the boards of organizations involved with filmmaking, the environment, and historic preservation.
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