Reviews for Photo By Brady : A Picture Of The Civil War


Booklist Reviews 2005 March #2
Gr. 6-9. Readers may need some background to fully appreciate this, but Armstrong doesn't disappoint in a slice of Civil War history that uses photographer Matthew Brady as its touchstone. As the book opens, Brady mortgages his thriving business to fund, train, and equip a stable of photographers to document Union troops in Virginia and the East. The text smoothly juxtaposes the complex decisions Lincoln faced as commander in chief and the devastation at places such as Fredericksburg and Gettysburg against the task of taking photographs in the field. The bloody charges and the daily grind are vividly evoked in both words and carefully selected and labeled photos--some familiar, many unsettling. Intriguing, if unnecessary, text insets ("Photos Not Taken") challenge readers to imagine pictures they might have taken had they been part of the history. Packed with well-documented quotes, this truly absorbing account, written with both honesty and surprising grace, will sear the conflict in memory in the same way the photos did--and still do. ((Reviewed March 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Fall
Armstrong first provides a factual overview of the war and then focuses on showing how photographs, Mathew Brady's prints in particular, allowed noncombatants to see how the war looked on battlefields. The principals have photographic space here, but so do the foot soldiers, the dead and wounded, barren farmlands, and civilians. The dual perspective, while rich in context, results in some omissions. Bib., ind. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2005 #3
Armstrong gives youngsters a double exposure of the Civil War, first providing a chronological, factual overview and, second, focusing on showing how photographs, in particular prints from Mathew Brady's studio, allowed noncombatants to see how the war looked to those living, fighting, suffering, and dying on battlefields far from their homes. The book is cleverly structured: four sections, each taking its title from a photographer's process ("Preparation of the Plate," "Exposure," "Developing the Image," and "Fixing the Image"), take readers from the war's outbreak to Appomattox Court House. The principals -- Lee, Grant, and Lincoln -- all have photographic space here, but so do the foot soldiers, the dead and wounded, the barren farmlands, and the civilian survivors. Less successfully developed is a series of fictional vignettes ("A Photograph Not Taken") that sidebar the main text and sentimentalize its power. Also, the dual perspective, while rich in context, results in some information being omitted -- particularly definitions of several historical photographic terms, such as daguerreotype and stereograph, which, in the latter case, would explain the side-by-side images in a number of illustrations. Source notes and an accompanying bibliography, detailed photograph credits, and an index conclude the book. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2005 January #2
Using photographs to document the Civil War was right up Mathew Brady's alley. In the 1840s, he had created a photographic catalogue of America's most distinguished citizens, and his influence became such that Lincoln could say, "Brady and the Cooper Union speech made me president." It was Brady's art that helped Lincoln gain a national reputation before the 1860 election. Now, Brady brought the war-remote and unseen-to the people, and the war, the president, and the photographer will forever be entwined in our imaginations. Just as a photographer frames his subject, Armstrong frames hers, focusing on the war in Virginia and photographers based in New York City and Washington. The narrative is chock full of fascinating details, many drawn from soldiers' diaries and letters, and photographs are liberally sprinkled throughout the volume. Extensive picture credits and a useful bibliography round out a handsome volume sure to be a fixture in Civil War collections. (source notes, index) (Nonfiction. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2005 March
Gr 6 Up-Armstrong chronicles the Civil War from Lincoln's election to his death with both a storylike narrative of events and a photo-essay. Unlike the war images we see today, Brady's pictures were either posed or they were of still objects. Since exposure in the brightest daylight in the 1860s took up to 10 seconds, even the slightest movement resulted in blurred images. Readers see soldiers, military camps, civilians, farms, battlefields: these same pictures were the first visual representations of war for America's nonmilitary folks. This book is also a look at early photographic techniques and offers a description of Brady's rare collection. The section titles use early photography terminology, referencing the series of steps that the photographer would have followed. All images are greyscale and by today's standards, the pictures are fuzzy and clouded with indistinct lines; when readers remember that the pictures are more than 100 years old, they should recognize their exquisiteness, grandeur, and genius.-Jodi Kearns, University of Akron, OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2005 April
Matthew Brady's photographs have brought the Civil War to life for Americans. Some of the most well-known images of the people and places of the War are credited to him, taken by his staff and using his techniques. In addition to being extraordinary in and of themselves, the photographs are also significant because they provided the first photographic images of a war for the American people. Not a biography of Brady or a standard chronicle of the Civil War, this book looks at the war through the images that moved Americans at the time and since. Armstrong breaks new ground by presenting what might be familiar material in a fresh way. She tells the story of the war through the images, and her unique approach makes this title a valuable addition to other books on the Civil War for this age group. Armstrong shows and explains why Brady's photos had such an enormous impact. She describes how he and his photographers got their shots as well as the techniques and challenges of photography of the time. The text is beautifully written, and there are excellent, detailed captions to the photographs. Armstrong's scholarship is meticulous, revealed by her notes, bibliography, and photo credits. It is an impressive package and a fine example of quality nonfiction for youth.-Alice F. Stern Index. Photos. Biblio. Source Notes. 5Q 4P M Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.

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