Soldiers have been trying to disguise themselves since at least the Trojan War. But as MIT historian of technology Hanna Rose Shell has detailed in her research, no concerted effort to develop systematic forms of camouflage existed until the 20th century. In her new book, Hide and Seek, published this spring by Zone Books, Shell describes how the use of camouflage became a standard military practice, and how the act of camouflaging soldiers quickly became a major part of war imagery in films, books and more. Shell spoke to MIT News about her work. Q. How do you define camouflage, and what are its origins?A. I’ll begin with the word itself. The term “camouflage” was coined in the French press in 1914, and absorbed into English and American lexicon almost immediately after its introduction early in World War I. Camouflage itself came into being as response to the real or...
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