The World of Trench Warfare in Color

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What the public remembers, it remembers in pictures. Wars, even more than other events, tend to survive in the popular imagination not just as a chronology of events, but also as an archive of images.

When it comes to remembering the World War I, most of us have had to content ourselves with a visual inheritance almost exclusively limited to black and white photography. No longer.

In a new book edited by historian Peter Walther, an extraordinary set of color images from the wartime photographer Hands Hilderbrand will be published for the first time. The pictures force us to alter our impression of the war as a gray and cloudy affair, confronting us instead with an unsettling portait of devastating iridescence.

As Europeans massacred one another with unprecedented efficiency on the fields of Flanders, they were greeted with sunshine and lush landscapes. As rounds of amunition dimpled the topography of Belgium and France, a new season would cause flowers to bloom over the craters left by explosive shells.

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