Edelman, Bernard 1946-
EDELMAN, Bernard 1946-
PERSONAL: Born December 14, 1946, in Brooklyn, NY; son of Sam (a textile worker) and Anne (a homemaker; maiden name, Greenberg) Edelman; married Ellen Leary (in video production), May 31, 1985. Education: Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, B.A., 1968; John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, M.A., 1983.
ADDRESSES: Home and offıce—340 East 57th St., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Photojournalist. Editor for chain of community-oriented weekly newspapers in New York, NY, 1972-78; freelance photographer, editor, and journalist, 1978-87; director of veterans' affairs for the City of New York, 1987—. Curator of art exhibits showing works by Vietnam veteran artists, 1981, 1982, 1984, and 1985. Associate producer of film Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam, Home Box Office (HBO), 1988; coproducer of Memorial: Letters from American Soldiers, 1991. Military service: U.S. Army, 1969-71.
MEMBER: New York City Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission.
AWARDS, HONORS: Oscar nomination (shared), Best Achievement in Documentary Subjects, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 1991, for Memorial: Letters from American Soldiers.
(Editor) Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1985, reprinted with introduction by John McCain, 2002.
Centenarians: The Story of the Twentieth Century by the Americans Who Lived It, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (New York, NY), 1999.
Contributor of photographs and articles to periodicals, including Police (magazine) and New York Sunday News (magazine).
ADAPTATIONS: Dear America was broadcast as a cable television special by Home Box Office (HBO) in April, 1988.
SIDELIGHTS: Commemorating the dedication of a memorial to Vietnam veterans in New York City, Bernard Edelman's Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam is a collection of correspondences from U.S. servicemen to their parents, lovers, and friends during the Vietnam war. The book begins with the testimony of soldiers fresh to the war, documents the terrors of combat, of loneliness and loss, and closes with soldiers' questions about America's place in this tragic foreign war. "The poignant letters collected here demonstrate that writers in America were not the only ones fighting a moral and emotional battle in the 1960s," wrote Los Angeles Times Book Review critic Alex Raksin. "They offer a picture of both confusion and bravery," noted a reviewer for the Washington Post Book World, "confused feelings about what the war is all about, bravery in the face of certain danger." And finding "the book's strength . . . in its diversity," Myra MacPherson commented in another Washington Post Book World critique, "this book tells of an ache as ancient as time—adolescents off to war with high expectations, who soon change greatly. Ambiguities abound—from pain, disillusionment, and sorrow for dead comrades to hard-earned measure of individual strength and survival." The book was adapted as a documentary film by HBO, and the letters were read against newsreels, home movies, and music from the period, by more than two dozen actors, including, Robert DeNiro, Kathleen Turner, and Tom Berenger.
Dear America was reprinted seventeen years later with an introduction by Senator John McCain, who wrote, in part, "The light that shines through the words in this volume, radiating from the fog of war, illuminates the conscience and character of America. A proud and triumphant nation, now engaged in a new struggle for freedom, we remember."
Edelman also coproduced a similar documentary, Memorial: Letters from American Soldiers, which includes narratives from the letters of soldiers serving from World War I to the Gulf War. This film was nominated for an Academy Award.
As the new century approached, Edelman interviewed nearly one hundred people who had lived long enough to see the turn of the last one. Their reflections on the history of the country over that period, as well as changes in family life, culture, and technology, are collected as Centenarians: The Story of the Twentieth Century by the Americans Who Lived It. Booklist's Margaret Flanagan called it "a treasure trove of priceless memories and anecdotes."
The commentaries cover subjects that include homesteading, the Great Depression, Prohibition, women's suffrage, McCarthyism, and civil rights. John Carver Edwards wrote in Library Journal that the "welter of information contained in these profiles is daunting." A Montana man recalls his boyhood meeting of Buffalo Bill Cody, while another talks of his conversation with President Woodrow Wilson during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. A man speaks of his experience as an immigrant in New York City, and a woman about her imprisonment and escape from Auschwitz. Among the interviewees are Victor Mills, the man who invented disposable diapers, and Chester Hoff, who as a rookie pitcher, struck out the great Ty Cobb. A Publishers Weekly contributor observed that the picture it paints "is basically flattering, evoking the enterprise, gumption, tolerance, and diversity that have made the United States a crucible of progress."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 1999, Margaret Flanagan, review of Centenarians: The Story of the Twentieth Century by the Americans Who Lived It, p. 1034.
Kliatt, September, 2002, Rita M. Fontinha, review of Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam, p. 40.
Library Journal, February 1, 1999, John Carver Edwards, review of Centenarians, p. 105.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, February 2, 1986, Alex Raksin, review of Dear America.
Publishers Weekly, January 4, 1999, review of Centenarians, p. 79.
Washington Post Book World, April 21, 1985, Myra MacPherson, review of Dear America; March 16, 1986, review of Dear America.*