He’s on the right, holding the Rembrandt, in this picture taken for a 1946 report (and kindly provided to us by The American Jewish Historical Society.) There’s a character in the movie based on Harry. The book it’s based on is gripping, so if you’re interested in World War II or art in the slightest, you’ll probably enjoy both.
Last week I spent several days in Dieppe, a Norman resort city, for the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of a terrible event there: the Dieppe raid, a disastrous Allied attack on the Normandy coast on August 19, 1942. I’ve got a personal connection to Dieppe: my father, an American volunteer fighting with Canada’s Black Watch Regiment, landed on the beach you see above and was among the 1,950 Canadian prisoners taken that day.
Dad’s story–and my journey–ishere on At War, the Times’ military blog. There’s audio from my father and another veteran, and video, too.
This Dieppe Journal is about the commemoration and the history of the battle itself.
After two failed escape attempts, and several other brushes with death in captivity, my father made it home in 1945.
He considered himself lucky: of the roughly 5,000 Canadians who landed at Dieppe, only about 2,000–roughly a third of them–made it back that day. More than 900 Canadians were slaughtered almost immediately; and again, nearly 2,000 were taken prisoner.
For decades Lowell has had a very two-dimensional public image of having been difficult and crazy and generally not nice. But my father and many, many others who knew him well didn’t think of or remember him that way.
There’s also an accompanying audio podcast–an interview with me about the piece–that’s called Re-branding Robert Lowell. The tape I write about at length is in there: so please click, read and listen!