Dianne Tittle de Laet understands the longing and appreciates the sense of incompletion that comes with having such a photograph as her father's legacy. But she does not see a fallen hero in it. Instead, she sees mythical figures—"Hector, and Beowulf going out to meet Grendel," because "myths are about struggle."
Several years ago she wrote a book, Giants & Heroes, that tells how it felt to grow up with a father who, depending on the week, was celebrated or vilified. She did not write about this photograph, at least not directly. Rather, she says, the whole book is about that image. "It shows someone who is broken and maybe beaten. But at the same time it captures who my father was," she says. "It shows the want. I think my father wanted. And he wanted well."
Michael Shapiro's most recent book is The Last Good Season (2003).