Saturday, February 18, 2012

Book review - Mr. Lincoln's Cameraman: Mathew B. Brady.

To finish up the two books I was recently lent, I read Mr. Lincoln's Camera Man: Mathew B. Brady by Roy Meredith. The version that I read was printed by Dover Publishing in 1974.

While not an in depth biography, I found Mr. Meredith's work to be fascinating nonetheless. Knowing a fair amount about the Civil War I had often heard of Mathew Brady and had even seen a decent number of his photographs. What I didn't know was the story behind the lens.

Mathew Brady was a world-famous photographer well before the Civil War broke out. He had won a most prestigious award at the 1851 World's Fair in London. That merely cemented his reputation though. Everyone who was anyone had their likeness taken by Mr. Brady. Many of those prewar photographs are included in the book along with the stories behind them.

Brady was at the height of his fame when the Civil War erupted. With his business prospering he was in a position to try and become the main recorder of the war. He largely succeeded. Many of his iconic Civil War images are included in the book along with lesser known prints. All are deeply interesting.

After the war Brady attempted to continue in business but his finances were in severe disarray. The government contract that he had expected did not come through. Competitors were multiplying. His health was failing. Until the end though Mathew Brady never lost the drive and vision that made him perhaps the most well-known photographers in American history.

Whether interested in the Civil War, American history, or photography most readers will find this inside look at Mr. Lincoln's Cameraman extremely interesting. Brady's pictures helped make Abraham Lincoln president, Roy Meredith's book helps bring Mathew Brady into focus. I cannot recommend it enough.

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