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Let's just say he wasn't a man of letters
on 5 June 2014
So let's balance out some of the 5-star reviews of this little book.
Firstly, I am a big fan of Cartier-Bresson and since seeing a recent exhibition of his work I wanted to learn more about him. Well, this is not a place to start. Given that I already have the books The Europeans and The Decisive Moment, his introductions to those books represent about half of this, and they are both a little dated and not particularly revealing about HCB.
The rest of the book - a handful of other introductions, tiny descriptions of other photographers and artists - only demonstrates that HCB was not a man of the pen and not very concerned with teaching anyone else his craft. The one short passage where the book comes alive describes his trips to China, quite a compelling section that gives some insight. But if you've read any reportage written by, say, your average Granta-published journalist, you will find the lack of historical detail and background and personal insight disappointing.
I would save a tenner on this book and put it towards one of his photo books, which remain the best way to learn about him and his work.