So This Is Peace? The Postwar Ventures by John Steinbeck, Irwin Shaw, and Robert Capa
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This paper is an attempt to analze literary ventures by John Steinbeck, Irwin Shaw and Robert Capa in which text and pictures make their own commentary. A Russian Journal (1948) is an unusual record of “the great other side of Russia,” wherein Steinbeck and Capa struggle to present the Soviet Union deprived of its ideological context. The authors make a sweeping journey through the USSR, portraying the landscapes and ways of life of ordinary Russians who were emerging from the rubble of WWII with the hope of peaceful coexistence of capitalism and communism in the atomic decade. The challenging task of demarcating culture with politics produced an intriguing travel narrative in which the power of observation is inherent in Steinbeck’s insights into Russia’s cultural landscapes and its memories of war, not in its Cold War state of mind. Similarly, Shaw and Capa take up a delicate task, reporting on the labyrinths of war in a newly developing state in the Middle East. Report on Israel (1950) is a powerful depiction of several wars at a crossroads where verbal assessment and photographic artistry often compete with one another. The spirit behind A Russian Journal and Report on Israel is a reminder of the postwar era’s instability and the human dimension of political changes. Both literary perspectives, unknown to a wider audience, serve as unique historical documents and skillfully arranged postwar profiles of countries and cultures traveling along a swinging rope between war and peace.
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