on 2 March 2014
As my other reviews will attest, I have a great interest in military uniforms. This book by a French photographer is exclusively focused on Europe and presents impressive portrait photos of current ceremonial guards (the simple one-word title `Empire' strikes me as being a little misleading as several of the nations - such as Monaco, Norway and San Marino - have never had empires).
A total of 16 national entities are covered, though oddly Scotland and Great Britain are shown and counted here as separate entities. All these nations together do show much of the best that Europe has to offer and multiple pictures are provided for each. It is a shame that some other European states that also have guards in colourful old-style uniforms are omitted, such as Czech Republic and Russia. The inclusion of the comparatively plain uniforms of the Austrian guards also looks somewhat out-of-place.
The large format photographs are all in rich colour taken in good clear light. All of them show subjects individually, in pairs or in groups of three, so there are no grand parade pictures. As a feast for the eyes the book works well, particularly for those who want to see the elaborate uniform details close-up. The book disappointingly contains a number of blank pages (having a picture on only one side of a double-page spread).
Those who might want to know a little about what they are looking at may be dissatisfied as the pictures appear without captions beside them and only the briefest descriptive text is provided on two pages at the back of the book. While detailed descriptions are not to be expected in an art book like this, I felt that at least the nation and the unit name should have been indicated beside each picture (even if only discretely). For this reason, and also the blank pages point mentioned above, I have given this book four stars rather than five.
It is worth noting additionally here that, according to the website of Charles Freger, this book was published in Italy under a different title ('Vis Voluntatis') - though the cover design is different, the pictures inside are the same as in 'Empire'.