The Great War: A Photographic Narrative

( 2 )

Overview

On the occasion of the centenary of World War I in August 2014—an unprecedented, spectacular pictorial history of the first global war in 380 black-and-white photographs, many never seen before, from Imperial War Museums in London.

This monumental, dramatic photographic narrative captures the war from the early arms race that developed around the massing of prewar battleship fleets to the final moments of the conflict with the sinking of the German fleet in Scapa. The ...

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Overview

On the occasion of the centenary of World War I in August 2014—an unprecedented, spectacular pictorial history of the first global war in 380 black-and-white photographs, many never seen before, from Imperial War Museums in London.

This monumental, dramatic photographic narrative captures the war from the early arms race that developed around the massing of prewar battleship fleets to the final moments of the conflict with the sinking of the German fleet in Scapa. The photographs span the many battlefronts throughout the world: from the British Isles to the south Atlantic, across Europe and the Ottoman Empire, Sudan and East Africa, Jerusalem and Damascus. Here are soldiers from across the globe, vast battleships, dirigibles overhead, the streets of London, the first battle of Ypres, German submarines at sea, the beaches of Gallipoli, the battle of Jutland, the battle of the Somme trenches, and much, much more. 

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Christopher Clark
When I saw the title of this volume, I expected one of those encyclopedias in which texts by historians are interspersed with grainy images that bring the arguments to life. The Great War could not be more different. The images presented here are not illustrations for a narrative; they are the narrative…a book of extraordinary power and clarity…it may well be the greatest anthology (yet) of World War I photographs. The sonata rhythm of the images, with their complementary and recurring themes, endows the ensemble with rare emotional power and reflective depth.
Publishers Weekly
10/21/2013
Archduke Franz Ferdinand's simple gray tunic trimmed in red and gold and stained with blood is one of the many arresting images in this monumental collection courtesy of the Imperial War Museums archives that marks the centennial of the First World War. In 1916, the British introduced a new propaganda technique of deploying journalists, cinematographers, and photographers to the front to document the heroism of the fighting men; by the war's end most of the other combatants had followed suit. Many of the images here are portrait-style scenes by unknown photographers and servicemen who were assigned official photography duties. The most notable photos capture innovations in warfare: the notorious trenches, the use of mustard gas, and the first deployments of crude tanks and zeppelins. Other images, like those of a little girl crying in front of a derelict piano in a French town and old woman left alone with her cow, are depictions of the war's toll on civilians. The brief narratives that introduce each year of the war are complemented by timelines that document developments in in mass media and technology, war photography alongside the world events. Editors Holborn and Roberts succeed in collecting the many facets of war in this noteworthy catalogue of one of the darker chapters in world history. Photos. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"A book of extraordinary power and clarity… it may well be the greatest anthology (yet) of World War I photographs...The sonata rhythm of the images, with their complementary and recurring themes, endows the ensemble with rare emotional power and reflective depth."
 
—Christopher Clark, The New York Times Book Review


“Intense and affecting…so many of these crisp images are haunting…Rich, riveting and often appalling visual history.”

Dwight Garner, The New York Times

From the Publisher
"A book of extraordinary power and clarity… it may well be the greatest anthology (yet) of World War I photographs...The sonata rhythm of the images, with their complementary and recurring themes, endows the ensemble with rare emotional power and reflective depth."
 
--Christopher Clark, The New York Times Book Review


“Intense and affecting…so many of these crisp images are haunting…Rich, riveting and often appalling visual history.”

Dwight Garner, The New York Times

Library Journal
Roberts, head of the photography archive at Britain's Imperial War Museums, joins with photography books editor Holborn to present 380 duotones and seven four-color images capturing the Great War.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-10-01
A stunning collection of images from all fronts, all points of view, during the war to end all wars, 1914–1918. Holborn (who has edited other photographic collections--e.g., George Harrison: Living in the Material World, 2011, etc.) and Roberts (head of Collections of the Imperial War Museums' photography archive and co-editor of Cecil Beaton: Theatre of War, 2012) have assembled and precisely identified some 500 pages of images that will evoke every emotion of which a human is capable. They have written brief introductory and concluding essays--and even briefer introductions to each of the five major divisions--as well as multidimensional chronologies. But mostly, the images, arranged chronologically, speak eloquently for themselves. We see soldiers marching off to battle, enduring in trenches, lying wounded or dead, standing behind barbed wire in prison camps. We see them firing weapons, flying aircraft, riding horses, driving the first primitive tanks, sharing cigarettes and coffee, sleeping, wearing gas masks. We also see some photos from the homefront: laborers in a munitions factory, refugees on the road, a French child weeping in front of a damaged piano in the street. Most people we see are Everyman and Everywoman, but there are some arresting images of T.E. Lawrence, Kaiser Wilhelm and Baron von Richthofen (the Red Baron), among other notables. (Some of Lawrence's own photographs are included.) The editors provide images of ships at sea--including submarines--of airplanes on the ground and aloft, of a zeppelin floating only feet above the ground. But what most depresses as the images amass their enormous cumulative power is the destruction--of life (9 million dead), of health (countless wounded), of property (a Madonna nearly knocked from the roof of a church) and of the natural world (forests fractured)--and some surprising beauty: artillery shells in flight by night. Beauty and horror contend for dominance on nearly every powerful page.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385350709
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/29/2013
  • Pages: 504
  • Sales rank: 188,898
  • Product dimensions: 1.62 (w) x 11.75 (h) x 11.75 (d)

Meet the Author

MARK HOLBORN has edited a number of books on photography, and has worked with Annie Leibovitz, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Hiro, Susan Sontag, and Issey Miyake, among many others. 

HILARY ROBERTS studied at University College London, University of London. She is the head of Collections of Imperial War Museums' photography archive and has coauthored Cecil Beaton: Theatre of War (September 2012), also with Mark Holborn.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2014

    The Great World War doesn't look great

    Stunning, depressing photos take you right into the trenches, onto the battlefield. Limited commentary is concise and informative.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2013

    Buy in store

    This book, one of the most expensive I've purchased this year, arrived with NO internal packaging, and the box was partially opened at the top; the flimsy tape used to seal the top flaps was uneven and poorly applied. Just the worst packing job I've ever seen. Where is your quality control, especially on expensive books like this one?

    The book, itself, is superb, rated on the year's best by the New York Times, and rightfully so. But again, beware, get it in a brick and mortar store.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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