Civil War Sketch Book: Drawings from the Battlefront

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Overview

A landmark collection featuring rare and sensational images of the Civil War.
At a time before the camera lens could capture the frenzy and terror of battle action, illustrators known as “Special Artists”—among them such famous draftsmen as Winslow Homer and Thomas Nast—created for the American public some of the most important and lasting images of the Civil War. Reporting for newspapers like Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News, the Specials brought a visceral ...

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Overview

A landmark collection featuring rare and sensational images of the Civil War.
At a time before the camera lens could capture the frenzy and terror of battle action, illustrators known as “Special Artists”—among them such famous draftsmen as Winslow Homer and Thomas Nast—created for the American public some of the most important and lasting images of the Civil War. Reporting for newspapers like Harper’s Weekly and Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News, the Specials brought a visceral immediacy to the clash, presenting rich and nuanced images of soldiers in the camps and sweeping panoramas of the great battles. The illustrations span the war and its many theaters, including rarely seen views of Shiloh, Antietam, Vicksburg, and Gettysburg, and the famous stampede of Union soldiers fleeing the Rebels at Bull Run. Gathering these images for the first time in fifty years, Civil War Sketch Book gives readers the sense that they are touching history, for the illustrations (some even stained with soldiers’ blood) represent priceless artifacts from our nation’s greatest conflict.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“...Informatively presenting the artists and the circumstances of their sketches, Katz and Virga help us envision the Civil War as contemporaries would have visualized it through the magazines they read.”
Geoffrey Ward
“These raw but deft on-the-spot sketches capture the Civil War battlefield as it really must have been—often confused, always fast-moving and sometimes terrifying. The artists who made them were nearly as courageous as the troops they followed. No one interested in the era should miss this handsome and revealing volume.”
Library Journal
April 12, 2011, marked the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter that started the Civil War. Here Katz (former head curator, prints & photographs, Lib. of Congress; Baseball Americana) and Virga (Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations) look at the illustrators—including Winslow Homer and Thomas Nast—who covered the war for popular newspapers of the time (Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, among others) by traveling with the troops and sketching among the dead and wounded as well as bullets, fire, and the general chaos of the battlefield. While most of the drawings included here were published at that time, others are rough, unpublished sketches newly uncovered by Katz and Virga. The book's text, which follows the chronology of the war, includes selections from the artists' letters, logbooks, diaries, and other firsthand accounts. VERDICT These accounts, along with the sketches themselves and the narrative framework the authors provide, give this handsome volume—also a landmark in the study of pictorial journalism—a special immediacy that will appeal to Civil War buffs and many others. Most highly recommended. (Look for excerpts in an upcoming issue of National Geographic.)—Marcia Welsh, Dartmouth Coll. Lib., Hanover, NH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393072204
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/14/2012
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 920,915
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 12.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Harry L. Katz is the former head curator of the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress and the author of Baseball Americana and Herblock. He lives in Del Mar, California.

Vincent Virga has authored or coauthored seven major picture books, including, most recently, Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations. He lives in New York City and in County Mayo, Ireland.

Alan Brinkley is professor of history at Columbia University and author of numerous books, including The End of Reform.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 2, 2012

    Fantastic

    Like many people I enjoy American History and have read many books and watched many documentary's, etc. I read about this book in an article in National Geographic that included a few of the sketches shown in this book. This book is a marvelous collection of media from that time period which is not widely available or well known. The history of the artists, their careers, and their publishers is well written against the backdrop of the Civil War. The quality and quantity of the sketches is without equal and makes this book a truly great value.

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