Nick Cardy: The Artist at War is a collection of sketches and illustrations from Nick Cardy that chronicle Cardy’s life during World War II. It is full of his art and memories and captures some of the things that you rarely see from the war. Things like men shaving to showering with cold water in a makeshift contraption. It’s an incredible journey of one man’s POV of the war.
The book begins with a few words from Cardy and co-writer Witterstaetter about the journey of getting the book made and it’s quite interesting. I recommend not skipping it which might be your first instinct. From there the book opens with Cardy signing up for the military and being shipped out to boot camp. What’ really interesting about Cardy’s sketches is that aside from being an amazing talent, he captures so many common scenes that you’d never think of. I mentioned a few in the beginning, but there are so many more that are very personal. In one page, he’s sketched a soldier that is so tired that they’ve passed out in their underwear on top of their bed. A lot of the sketches in the book are unfinished, but there are a few examples where Cardy has gone back and finished the piece and they look wonderful.
What’s interesting about the book is that while it’s a sketchbook, Cardy’s narration of the pictures throughout the book paint another picture of his experiences during the war. It’s very interesting and he doesn’t hide the fact that his art skills gave him a different experience than most, but you can also tell that he’s grateful for that as well. At one point he talks about being transferred to a different company and the back again… and again between the two companies. That very act essentially saved him from the fate that awaited the first company he was in.
This was a great read and it is not simply another account of World War II. It’s a personal account of it that captures a lot of the day to day behind the scenes that tend to escape the history books and Hollywood retellings.
It’s hard to recommend this book to just one type of reader. If you love illustrations then it’s definitely for you. If you enjoy history then add yourself to the list. There are more parties that would be interested, but it’s not interesting for me to sit here and list them all. It’s a great book and it’s great to hear it from Cardy’s perspective because it’s like hearing it from a relative and that makes it a very personal experience.
By: Nick Cardy and Renee Witterstaetter
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: 2/22/13