19 Jun 2008

The Biography of a Symbol

Peace: The Biography of a Symbol By Ken Kolsbun, with Michael Sweeney
* Publisher: National Geographic (April 1, 2008)

As the boomer generation moves onward through the milestones of life, 1960s nostalgia holds tremendous meaning today. And nothing more eloquently symbolises 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.

With guaranteed appeal for audiences who flocked to Hippie several years ago, Peace will also capture fans of symbology, art, and history—and will pose an interesting counterpoint to the 2008 election. The compact trim size and low price point will help to position Peace as both affordable gift and easy impulse purchase.
Peace: The Biography of a Symbol has been made available 1st in April of 2008.


"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
About the Authors

Ken Kolsbun, a self-described Jack-of-all trades, 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. He lives in Forestville, California.

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.

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