In gentle, flowing verse, One Last Shot tells the story of Gerda Taro, a renowned wartime photographer who grew up Jewish in Germany shortly before the Nazi rise to power and who was the first photojournalist to be killed in action during the Spanish Civil War. Gerda’s youthful passion for the cause of freedom animates Kip Wilson’s poetry, drawing the reader into the atmosphere and facts of Gerda’s life.
Gerda loves Shabbat meals with her family but hates feeling “different” than those around her. This sense of otherness inspires her to begin an artistic and political life championing those who struggle to be free. When the Nazis become a powerful force in society, she demonstrates against them, hanging posters and engaging in civil disobedience to protest their harsh policies.
Gerda flees Germany for France. Upon arriving in Paris, she meets photographer Andre Friedmann, later known as Robert Capa — and she excels in the art of photography, too. They become both romantic and business partners, sharing an interest in politics and current events. Together, they travel to Spain to photograph the Spanish Civil War. They encounter other well-known artists, including John Dos Passos, Pablo Neruda, and Ernest Hemingway, and immerse themselves in a passionate fight against oppression. Gerda achieves professional accolades and great glory, but she pays the ultimate price, sacrificing herself for her cause.
In a lengthy author’s note, Wilson offers more information about the characters mentioned, as well as a brief history of the Spanish Civil War and a discussion of which parts of the story were fictionalized and why. This is a beautiful story featuring a fascinating character who lived, and died, in unsettling times.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.