In this innocent and emotionally charged era -- long before the Kinsey Report detailed how many men were having same-sex sexual experiences -- these soldiers and sailors were encouraged to form close bonds with their fellow troops.
They needed to trust and count on each other -- their lives depended on it.
Most of these young men were just entering manhood. Many came from landlocked states and small towns and farms. They didn't know the wicked ways of the world. And when it was time to relax, the tensions were explosive. Because you didn't know whether you might live or die the next day, all the polite rules of behavior were shucked along with their fatigues, bell-bottoms, and BVDs.
Cameras were rare, processing nude images even more difficult, so that photographer Michael Stoke's massive collection of more than 500 images of horseplay and fraternity is a treasure. The book's editor, Dian Hanson, is the tall, beautiful goddess of the sex-packed coffee table book for men. Its intro is written by Scotty Bowers, an 89-year-old ex-Marine who is also the author of Full Service, abest-selling memoir of his sexual exploits in Hollywood. Bowers talks about how the war forever altered his attitudes about gay and straight.
See more at Taschen.com, and Amazon.com. Check out images from the book on the following pages, all courtesy of Taschen.