An Artist Goes to War

Leon Granacki in the South Pacific WWII

by Victoria Ann Granacki



Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 2/13/2024

Format : E-Book
Dimensions : N/A
Page Count : 176
ISBN : 9781665739474
Format : Hardcover
Dimensions : 8.5x11
Page Count : 176
ISBN : 9781665739481
Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 8.5x11
Page Count : 176
ISBN : 9781665739467

About the Book

Like so many others who served in World War II, Leon Granacki was an ordinary guy from a working-class immigrant family drafted into the US Army and thrust into the horrors of war in the South Pacific. But through sheer luck and pluck, he leveraged his art talents to survive and thrive, catapulting himself from private infantryman to Master Sergeant and mapmaker for General MacArthur in the Americal Division’s Intelligence section. Inspired by the Southern Cross as his troop transport crossed the equator, he designed the Americal Division patch for the Army’s only named division, created in New Caledonia. Overseas for three-and-a-half years without any stateside furlough, he labored over maps of enemy positions in a primitive tent in the steamy, mosquito-infested jungles of Guadalcanal and Bougainville.

In An Artist Goes to War, author Victoria Ann Granacki paints a portrait of her father, Leon, through his original maps, jungle watercolors, journal illustrations, scrapbook photos, and letters home to “Dear Gang”—his extended Polish American family crowded together in a Chicago “six-flat” apartment building. Despite only slyly alluding to awful conditions to evade the censors’ scissors, his indomitable optimism always comes through. The Polish-language letters directed to his beloved parents are filled with childlike tenderness as he tries to reassure them he’ll be safe. His plaintive longings for family, holidays home, fishing, and a woman to love are poignant reminders of the personal effects of war on reluctant soldiers.

About the Author

Victoria Ann Granacki is passionate about collecting and preserving old documents, odd artifacts, weird art, and vintage buildings. In her historic preservation career, she wrote scores of landmark nominations and community histories highlighting Illinois’ architectural legacy, and she authored Arcadia Publishing’s Chicago’s Polish Downtown. Granacki has rehabbed four historic buildings in Chicago, and in retirement, she chronicles family history.