Synopses & Reviews
A century after it began, we still struggle with the terrible reality of the First World War, often through republished photographs of its horrors: the muddy trenches, the devastated battlefields, the maimed survivors. Due to the crude film cameras used at the time, the look of the Great War has traditionally been grainy, blurred, and monochromeandmdash;until now. The First World War
presents a startlingly different perspective, one based on rare glass plate photographs, that reveals the war with previously unseen, even uncanny, clarity.
Scanned from the original plates, with scratches and other flaws expertly removed, these oversized reproductions offer a wealth of unusual moments, including scenes of men in training, pictures of African colonial troops on the Western front, landscapes of astonishing destruction, and postmortem portraits of Belgian soldiers killed in action. Readers previously familiar with only black-and-white or sepia-toned prints of the hostilities will be riveted by the bookandrsquo;s many authentic color photographs, products of the early autochrome method. From children playing war games to a wrenching deathbed visit, these images are extraordinary not only for their subject matter, but also for the wide range of emotions they evoke.
Accompanied by a preface from celebrated writer Geoff Dyer and an essay by historian David Van Reybrouck, the photographs here serve both as remarkable witnesses to the everyday life of warfare and as dramatic works of art in their own right. These images, taken by some of the conflictandrsquo;s most gifted photographers, will radically change how we visualize the First World War.and#160;
and#8220;Looking at the topic from all possible angles, from Matthew Brady to Simon Norfolk, itand#8217;s exhaustive, harrowing, brilliant and essential: one of the yearand#8217;s most important books.and#8221;and#8212;Vince Aletti,and#160;Photograph
Winner of the 2013 Kraszna-Krausz Awards in the Best Photography Book category.
and#8220;The catalog boasts an impressive list of legendary conflict photographers, going as far back to Roger Fenton and Alexander Gardner in the 1800s to more contemporary names like Don McCullin, James Nachtwey and Carolyn Cole.and#8221;and#8212;NPR
and#8220;. . . a massive and important book.and#8221;and#8212;caa.reviews
"The need to see America's twenty-first-century war dead, and to make them seen--to give their absence presence--has consumed Ashley Gilbertson for much of the past decade. Like it or not, these wars really are ours--they implicate us--and when our military men and women die in far off lands, they do so in our name. Gilbertson wanted to depict what it means that they are gone. Photographs of the fallen, or of their coffins or their graves, don't tell us that. But the places they came from and were supposed to go back to--the places they left empty--do tell us."
and#8220;Equal parts haunting and hopeful, Gilbertson peers into the sacred spaces of fallen US soldiers to reveal the things they left behind.and#8221;
andldquo;The authors of this sumptuous album have presented the journey of exceptional, often unpublished, photographers. . . . The amazing quality of the images . . . makes this book a work of art, a gift for lovers of photography and history.andrdquo;
andldquo;Geoff Dyer and Carl De Keyzer unveil the Great War in a new light. . . . The pictures are beautiful, shocking. . . . . A work that stands out from the wave of books on WWI.andrdquo;
andldquo;Shocking, these photographs have amazing power. These disturbing photographs . . . return us to a past anterior to the war that they illustrate. . . . In this beautiful book, the reader is invited to dive into the First World War. . . . It is not only the mud, the corpses, and the craters in these images. It is a whole daily life parallel to the fighting that is revealed.andrdquo;
andldquo;This beautiful book on WWI is not about debates, executions, deserters, or comments on the effectiveness of the military. Itandrsquo;s just about life, the lived lives behind the lines, children playing, construction workers . . . the lives near the front lines. . . . If one wanted to keep only one book of photographs of the Great War, this would be it.andrdquo;
andldquo;A moving evocation of this first human cataclysm. . . . A wonderful book that provokes historical and philosophical interest in the notion of commemorating historical events.andrdquo;
A groundbreaking survey of war as seen through the lens of a camera
surveys both iconic and newly discovered photographs of war and conflict, from daguerreotypes documenting the Crimean and American Civil Wars to digital images made by soldiers in 21st-century Iraq. Accompanying a landmark exhibition opening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, it is generously illustrated with over 525 powerful images and includes texts by some of today's most important scholars of war photography. This ambitious book offers a comprehensive investigation of the relationship between photography and armed conflict.
The featured works represent a range of perspectivesand#8212;from journalists to soldiers to ordinary citizensand#8212;and span six continents, yet together they communicate the consummate experience of war: its brutality, humanity, and even humor. The book's essays investigate the immediate impact, dissemination, and historical influence of war photography.
In his 2007 book Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, the photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson documented some of the most harrowing episodes of Americaand#8217;s war in Iraq.and#160; Years later, Gilbertson was still struggling with PTSD and with his guilt over a young marine, Billy Miller, who, he felt, had died in his place during the battle for Falluja. Bedrooms of the Fallen grew out of Gilbertsonand#8217;s need to come to terms with the human cost of war. It is composed of wide-format, black-and-white photographs of forty bedrooms left behind by soldiers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan (and, in one case, the victim of suicide on his return). Left intact by families of the deceased, these bedrooms are filled with milestones of lives cut cruelly short: a framed high school diploma, photos from prom, sports medals. There are also unique souvenirs: shot glasses from Hooters, a copy of the Constitution from a class trip to Washington, DC. Some photographs also hint at these young soldiersand#8217; purpose: a Bin Laden and#147;wantedand#8221; poster, a photograph of the smoldering twin towers.and#160; Included are not only US soldiers but others from Canada and several European countries. These forty imagesand#151;a number corresponding to the size of a platoonand#151;convey the anguish of war more eloquently than any battlefield photograph and serve as a lasting memorial to the troops who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is dedicated to Billy Miller.
For more than a decade, the United States has been fighting wars so far from the public eye as to risk being forgotten, the struggles and sacrifices of its volunteer soldiers almost ignored. Photographer and writer Ashley Gilbertson has been working to prevent that. His dramatic photographs of the Iraq war for the New York Times
and his book Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
took readers into the mayhem of Baghdad, Ramadi, Samarra, and Fallujah. But with Bedrooms of the Fallen
, Gilbertson reminds us that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have also reached deep into homes far from the noise of battle, down quiet streets and country roadsand#151;the homes of family and friends who bear their grief out of view.
The bookand#8217;s wide-format black-and-white images depict the bedrooms of forty fallen soldiersand#151;the equivalent of a single platoonand#151;from the United States, Canada, and several European nations. Left intact by families of the deceased, the bedrooms are a heartbreaking reminder of lives cut short: we see high school diplomas and pictures from prom, sports medals and souvenirs, and markers of the idealism that carried them to war, like images of the Twin Towers and Osama Bin Laden. A moving essay by Gilbertson describes his encounters with the families who preserve these private memorials to their loved ones, and shares what he has learned from them about war and loss.
Bedrooms of the Fallen is a masterpiece of documentary photography, and an unforgettable reckoning with the human cost of war.
One hundred years later, the First World War has returned to public consciousness, often through republished photographs of its horrors: the muddy trenches, the devastated battlefields, the maimed survivors. Because the most popular cameras of the time were the Vest Pocket Kodak and other crude film cameras, the and#147;lookand#8221; of that Great War is grainy, blurred, and monochrome. This book presents a startlingly different First World War, one seen through rare glass plate photographs made by the warand#8217;s most gifted cameramen, selected and digitally restored by Magnum photographer Carl De Keyzer. Scanned from the original plates, with scratches and other flaws painstakingly removed, these oversized reproductions reveal the war in uncanny and previously unseen clarity. Also startling are the unfamiliar scenes selected by De Keyzer and elucidated by historian David Van Reybrouck: staged scenes of men in training (and of children imitating them), dramatic industrial photographs, landscapes of astonishing destruction, pictures of African colonial troops on the Western front, and postmortem portraits of thirteen Belgian soldiers killed in battle on the second day of the war. A quarter of the photographs in this book are in color, made with the autochrome process. The book includes a preface by Geoff Dyer, who refers to and#147;the extraordinaryand#160; power and surprise ofand#160; this hoard of photographsand#8221; and discusses the disconcerting temporal effects of seeing such unusual pictures of a historical event we strongly associate with entirely different imagery.
About the Author
and#8217;s photographs have appeared in the New Yorker
, the New York Times Magazine
, Stern and other publications. His work is included in collections of major museums throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia. Among numerous honors, Gilbertson won the prestigious Robert Capa Gold Medal for his photographs of the battle of Fallujah and in 2012 was awarded a National Magazine Award for the New York TimesMagazine
feature of The Bedrooms of the Fallen