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Magnum: Fifty Years at the Front Line of History [Paperback]

Russell Miller

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Book Description

6 Sep 1999
Since the legendary photo agency was founded in 1947, its members have been on hand to bear witness on the front line of world history. From Joan Crawford to Malcolm X, Magnum has changed how we perceive our political leaders, social crises, and the communities next door. of photos.

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More About the Author

Russell Miller is an award-winning journalist, scriptwriter and author based in the United Kingdom. The movie "Lorenzo's Oil", starring Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon, was based on a feature he wrote for the Sunday Times Magazine. His first book, "Bunny, The Real Story of Playboy", was voted the best non-fiction book of the year and his biography of L.Ron Hubbard, exposing the lies promoted by the Church of Scientology about its founder, was the subject of ferocious litigation around the world and was eventually withdrawn from publication in the United States. Russell is currently working on a biography of Field Marshal Slim, the hero of the Burma campaign in the Second World War.

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The best account of the reality of photo-journalism I have ever read. His description of his characters has the sharpness and insight of a first-rate photograph...An ultra-enjoyable is sheer delight -- John Simpson Daily Telegraph This fascinating book...reminds us that photography is still the dominant visual art of our time -- Murray Sayle Mail on Sunday A cleverly constructed book - a labour of love -- Phillip Knightley Guardian Fascinating -- Brian Case Time Out

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
PHOTOGRAPHERS LIKE to joke that becoming a member of Magnum is tantamount, in the rigour of the initiation, to joining a religious order. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heroes, made real and understandable 28 Dec 2000
By Adam Rust - Published on
Russell Miller outlines the history of the world's greatest photo agency from its founding shortly after World War II until its advancement into the 90's. He includes personal stories about many of the photographers. The book also charts a course between many of the conflicting visions held by the members for the purpose of the agency. As you read the book, you have to remind yourself that Magnum is a "cooperative," because rarely do the members show this spirit. At its start, Cartier-Bresson wanted pictures with artistic vision. Capa wanted hard core reportage. In later years, Martin Parr's overtly critical portrayals of his subjects tested the agency's humanistic mission. All along, the great photographers prove to be fantastically poor businessmen. Russell Miller's history of does a lot to humanize some of the gods of photojournalism. As someone who has spent several years in graduate school, I enjoyed hearing that not all of these people were perfect. It is genuinely funny to learn that Eugene Smith's seven year Pittsburgh project was actually only intended to be a two week assignment. What beginning photographer hasn't made the same kind of mistake, deciding that a story was worthy of far greater time than budgeted for by your teacher or editor? Miller's account of Smith probably goes so far as to provide a cautionary tale to aspiring photographers about the need to draw boundaries to your work life. This book would be a good addition to a college photography course. It covers its subject expansively, but it tells the story in a chronological narrative that keeps the reader turning pages quickly.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An honest, well detailed depiction of the agency 3 Aug 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Given that I had worked at Magnum as well as for several of the members, I thought that the Miller's book fairly depcited the personalities and management of the agency. Alas the book does not delve into why the new members have difficulty in living off as an associate member, or even tries to look into these problems. The history of photography and the timing of Magnum's incorporation came together fortuitously during the acme of the profession. The days of magazines such as Look, Life, and the commercial business of still photography have disappeared with the advent of color TV and Internet. Maybe they should have looked into Web pages. This is not to belittle their brilliant work in the past (I still consider my days at Magnum as the most influential in my life and still have friends in the agency), but given the original format for membership within Magnum, they should reconsider other options. Maybe such treatment would be out of context of the book, although ! it would delve into the many problems of still photography in today's world.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book about the passion of art and photojournalis 7 Feb 2000
By LEN KATZ - Published on
This is a wonderful book about people who are passionate about their craft. Miller takes us on a journey into one of the worlds premier photo agencies, showing the reader its inner workings, along with the in-fighting. It is an in depth story of some of the worlds best photographers (past and present)and the agency that represents them. It is a wonderful read, detailing the hows and whys of some of the most enduring images in history. This book is highly reccommended to anyone intrested in photojournalism.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommend to anyone, not only photographers and journalists 27 Nov 2012
By Kirill Tigaj - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is great, it contains such an amount of interesting material, includes photos of Capa and others photographers, and costs almost nothing. This is not just about Magnum Photo - it's about XX century. There also many reference for whom got interesting for further studing photography. This book - must have
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for anyone interested in Magnum 25 Aug 2010
By Anthony Amorteguy - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book gives great insight and details concerning Magnum Photos. I knew quite a lot of the facts about the organization, but to read it in detail and with interviews of the key players was fantastic. I now have a greater understanding and appreciation of the characters in the drama that was and is Magnum.
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