Prior to Phil Stern's death on December 13, 2014, his original, unfinished, tattered wartime memoir was discovered, stashed away in an old folio box in his cluttered Hollywood bungalow. Best remembered for his iconic images of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and JFK's inauguration, his remarkable service during World War II as a combat photographer with Darby's Rangers has remained largely unknown. Until now.
Stern's catchy 1940s lingo, honest and intimate observations, and humor, paired with his striking combat photography, transport the reader 70 years back in time to meet the hardscrabble Rangers and experience some of the key battles of the Mediterranean Theater. Snapdragon is an artifact of that time, told not by a man reminiscing in his twilight years, but by a young soldier fresh from the battlefields.
Described by Vanity Fair editor David Friend as the "Chronicler of Cool," American photographer Phil Stern is noted for his iconic portraits of Hollywood stars. During World War II, he served as a U.S. Army Ranger and combat photographer in the much heralded fighting unit Darby's Rangers in the North African and Italian campaigns. In 2014 Stern was inaugurated into the prestigious U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame for his "service as an original member of the 1st Ranger Battalion and for his lasting contribution to the photographic history of the Rangers." An award-winning journalist with more than 15 years' experience, Liesl Bradner has contributed to respected national publications such as the Los Angeles Times, the New Republic, the Guardian, Truthdig, Variety and WWII Magazine. In addition to Phil Stern, with whom she forged a strong bond, Bradner has interviewed nearly 100 artists, actors, screenwriters, authors, politicians and photographers. In May 2016, she was part of a team of writers at Truthdig that won the 2015 Maggie Award for best regularly featured web column (Book Review). Book projects include Frank Sinatra Has a Cold (Taschen, 2015) and the Writers' Room essay for Matthew Weiner's Mad Men (Taschen, 2016). She lives in Los Angeles.
Preface: The Discovery Introduction: Back in the USA Part I: The Beginning Chapter 1: So you want to be a Ranger Chapter 2: Onward We Stagger Chapter 3: HMS Royal Ulsterman Chapter 4: Shipping Out Part II: North Africa Chapter 5: Operation Torch Chapter 6: Adapt and Prepare Chapter 7: Don't you know there's a war on Son? Chapter 8: The Pigeon and the G.I. Chapter 9: Tebessa Chapter 10: Sened Station Raid Chapter 10: Kasserine Pass Chapter 11: El Guettar Chapter 12: Wham, I'm hit! Chapter 13: Casablanca Hospital Part III: Sicily Chapter 14: Operation Husky Chapter 15: Vincere "Victory" Chapter 16: Postwar Life Epilogue: The Final Patrol and Legacy Appendices