Cover of Back from Tobruk

Back from Tobruk

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University of Nebraska

2012

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264

978-1-59797-986-3

1-59797-986-4

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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. 

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