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Peace: The Biography of a Symbol

$25.00

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Item#:6200294

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As the boomer generation moves onward through the milestones of life, 1960s nostalgia holds tremendous meaning today. And nothing more eloquently symbolizes the counterculture era than the peace sign. How did this simple sketch become so powerful an image? Peace: The Biography of a Symbol tells the surprising story of the sign in words and pictures, from its origins in the nuclear disarmament efforts of the late 1950s to its adoption by the antiwar movement of the 1960s, through its stint as a mass-marketed commodity and its enduring relevance now.


As the symbol's popularity blossomed, so did an entire generation, and author Ken Kolsbun's expertly selected images—from his own collections as well as a variety of historical archives—illustrate both the sign itself and the larger history that it helped to shape. Along the way, the book recounts the controversy inspired by the peace symbol, bringing to light several trials that challenged its very existence. Drawing on exclusive archival interviews with Gerald Holtom, the late creator of the symbol, Peace recounts its birth and goes on to build a historic portrait using both iconic and rarely seen photographs.


  • Hardcover
  • 176 pages; 150 color photographs
  • 8" x 8"
  • © 2008

Ken Kolsbun is a photographer, writer, historian, peace activist, game inventor, landscape architect, baseball fan, bicyclist, mail-order catalog designer, husband, and father. Kolsbun continues to be active in the peace movement and is an authority on the peace symbol itself.


Michael S. Sweeney is a professor of journalism at Utah State University. He is the award-winning author of the acclaimed book Secrets of Victory, which was named 2001 Book of the Year by the American Journalism Historians Association, and of the National Geographic book God Grew Tired of Us, with Jon Bul Dau.


"Five decades later, Holtom's design is everywhere, from beach towels to postage stamps to graffiti scribbled on bridges and underpasses across the U.S."—Chicago Tribune


"The book is enhanced by numerous photos, some chillingly familiar, some simply nostalgic."—The Associated Press


"…Kolsbun, a photographer, designer and peace activist, and Sweeney, a professor of journalism at Utah State University, methodically trace its story…"—NYT Book Review


"The book is enhanced by numerous photos, some chillingly familiar, some simply nostalgic."—Kansas Journal-World


"A quick and easy read, with lots of big-type highlights and pictures on every page."—Roanoke Times


"A flamboyant package...In hard cover, it runs 176 glossy pages, about half of which are photographs and other colorful illustrations. The book is as much a brief history of the peace movement as of the emblem."—Noozhawk