Defiant Gardens: Making Gardens in Wartime
Published by Trinity University Presswrite essay for me
Why is it that in the midst of a war, one can still find gardens?
In the most brutal environments, both stateside and on the battlefield, they continue to flourish. Wartime gardens are dramatic examples of what Kenneth I. Helphand calls “defiant gardens” – gardens created in extreme social, political, economic, or cultural conditions.
Illustrated with archival photos, this remarkable book examines gardens of war in the 20th century, including gardens built behind the trenches in World War I, in the Warsaw and other ghettos during World War II, and in Japanese-American internment camps, as well as gardens created by soldiers at their bases and encampments during wars in the Persian Gulf, Vietnam, and Korea.
Proving that gardens are far more than peaceful respites from the outside world, Defiant Gardens is a thought-provoking analysis of why people create natural spaces.
Praise for Defiant Gardens
Anyone doubting the therapeutic power of nature need only read Kenneth Helphand’s new book.
Gardens that ignored the rules of nature and gardeners who challenged the laws of man are vitally united in Helphand’s seminal and revelatory study of life during some of the most lethal conflicts of the twentieth century … Helphand’s extensively researched history of gardens in wartime illuminates the grotesque juxtaposition of willful devastation and the astonishing tenacity required to create life in the face of death.
Original and astonishing.
At once scholarly and heartbreaking, Defiant Gardens is a compelling record of human resilience written on landscapes of fear. Kenneth Helphand skillfully juggles the incongruities while gathering a remarkable harvest of first-person testimonies, extending our images of both gardens and of war.
Defiant Gardens suggests that planting, cultivating, contemplating in the garden, planning for life, for beauty, for order, is war’s opposite and thereby not just escape but a potent act of resistance. Sometimes a book appears that makes it possible to see the world in a new way, and Kenneth Helphand’s Defiant Gardens is one of those. It raises questions about whether gardening is always against something, against death or despair, about what ferocities might be disguised among the roses or tomatoes.
An imaginative and original book.
A surprising and eye-opening book about the human heart and the inspirational role of gardens in wartime.