Monday, February 06, 2012

Book review - Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War.

Unlike most of the books I review, I do not own this one. It and the next book were both lent to me by a friend.

Alexander Gardner was a photographer during the mid-1800's. He began his career working for the famous Mathew Brady and then struck out on his own. The pictures he took during the Civil War made him a household name. After the war Gardner was in need of funds, the result was this book.

The version of Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War that I read was a reproduction of the original work that was put out by Dover Publications in 1959. With the exception of an introduction and an index, the work remained as it was when it was initially published.

There are 100 "plates" or pictures in the book with accompanying descriptions. While I had seen many of the photographs previously I found the descriptions to be interesting. Many of the pictures that I had seen were presented in other works as something different that Mr. Gardner labeled them. Also of note was the famous faked photograph from Gettysburg. In Mr. Gardner's book the same body is seen twice - once in an open area and once in a sharp-shooter's nest. The supposition has always been that Mr. Gardner moved the soldier in order to get a more dramatic shot in the second photograph. After comparing the pictures I would have to agree that something is fishy.

There's nothing fishy about this fine collection of Civil War pictures though. Whether one is an avid Civil War buff or is just wanting to take a glimpse into the past this book is well worth your time.

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