In a picture that captures the violence and sheer destruction inherent in war perhaps more graphically than any other ever published in LIFE, Marines take cover on an Iwo Jima hillside amid the burned-out remains of banyan jungle, as a Japanese bunker is obliterated in March 1945.
Members of the U.S. Army Air Corps’ legendary 99th Pursuit Squadron, the Tuskegee Airmen, receive instruction about wind currents from a lieutenant in 1942. The Tuskegee fliers — the nation’s first African American air squadron — served with distinction in the segregated American military.
A welder at a boat-and-sub-building yard adjusts her goggles before resuming work, October, 1943. By 1945, women comprised well over a third of the civilian labor force (in 1940, it was closer to a quarter) and millions of those jobs were filled in factories: building bombers, manufacturing munitions, welding, drilling and riveting for the war effort
Photographs from WWII from the LIFE archives.
When private bands of fanatics commit atrocities we call them “terrorists,” which they are, and have no trouble dismissing their reasons. But when governments do the same, and on a much larger scale, the word “terrorism” is not used, and we consider it a sign of our democracy that the acts become subject to debate. If the word “terrorism” has a useful meaning (and I believe it does, because it marks off an act as intolerable, since it involves the indiscriminate use of violence against human beings for some political purpose), then it applies exactly to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”
— Howard Zinn, The Bomb
The Bomb by Howard Zinn
A pair of essays by Howard Zinn that tear down the image of WWII as the “good war” and repaint it as an immoral war of epic proportions. Focusing on the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, his own participation in the bombing raids on Royan, and the bombing of Dresden, Zinn condemns the mass violence committed unnecessarily by Allied powers during the war, and questions any justifications behind using nuclear warfare. Recounting the events leading up to and following the dropping of the atomic bombs, Zinn describes the dropping of the a-bombs as “the killing of 200,000 people to make a point about American power”. Beautifully written, Zinn once again does what he knows best, which is reminding us that history has often been written in favor of the victorious.
It’s a quick read, and I highly recommend giving it a look.