Oversized Coffee Table Nudity Alert

3Words by Billie Jenkins Images taken from Michael Stokes

I don’t want to shock anyone but someone has made an oversized coffee table book containing nude photography. I hear you gasping, unusual isn’t it. Yet there’s a twist, My Buddy: WWII Laid Bare from Michael Stokes offers something remarkably unique to the tired format. For years Stokes has been bringing together the rare and relatively unseen images WWII soldiers took of each other between the tenches and battles. Pictures from the troops towards the front line are few and far between, it was dangerous, and a camera was not a priority for troops to carry as they faced going over the top. Yet small momentos were made, private memories held by those who needed something to look back on in the darker periods. The ‘buddy up’ system was encouraged, and intensely intimate friendships were built between comrades who worked, slept, ate and played on top of one another. This book records a part of the war that is little spoken of, and has never before been seen in such a brazen way. Is it homoerotic? That is a question that can only be answered by the viewers and the men in the photos, all of which may have a different answer. One quality that shines through all the pictures however is the potency of male bonding and friendship, when masculinity was a requirement, and death lay just on the horizon.

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