The Colour of Time: A New History of the World, 1850-1960 Hardcover – 9 Aug 2018
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'A clever, deftly executed book ... Marina Amaral has chosen 200 black-and-white photographs, taken between 1850 and 1960, and skilfully colourised them, which gives them new life, new relevance and new power ... Dan Jones gives a nicely thoughtful commentary to it all' Daily Mail, Coffee Table Books of the Year.
'Purists argue that colourising black and white photographs is sacrilege, but the world has always been in colour ... Truth be told, monochrome is a contrivance. Human experience is always colourful' The Times, Books of the Year.
'[The Colour of Time] does something simple yet extraordinary. It takes black-and-white photos of historic events and colours them in. The effect is transformative' Daily Telegraph.
'There is something of The Wizard of Oz about Marina Amaral's photographs. She whisks us from black-and-white Kansas to shimmering Technicolor Oz ... When you see Amaral's coloured portraits, you think: phwoar! ... She changes the way we see a period or a person' Spectator.
'The effect of colour is far more transformative than you might imagine ... [Amaral's] touched-up photographs look even more realistic, and closer to life, than a photograph taken yesterday ... Extraordinary' Mail on Sunday.
'What also elevates The Colour of Time above regular coffee table fare is the startling vivacity and impact of the photographs chosen, and the concise but focused and gripping texts by Jones, making the book a worthwhile cover-to-cover read as much as it serves as a showcase book to dip into at will' All About History.
'Spanning more than 100 years of world history, from Queen Victoria to the Cuban missile crisis, this book offers a fresh perspective on the past by transforming the black and white photographs that defined global events into full colour' BBC History.
'Illustrator Marina Amaral has digitally colourised 200 historic black-and-white photographs, making them look as though they were taken yesterday. Dan Jones explains the historical context of each startling image' Mail on Sunday, Books of the Year.
'I have long considered colourisation sacrilege ... after reading this book, I've changed my mind' The Times.
'The most breathtakingly colourised black-and-white pictures ever' Daily Mail.
A brilliant artist, working with a bestselling historian, uses digital techniques to bring vividly to life 200 photographs of the defining events and personalities of the modern world.See all Product description
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What I like about it is that it shows history that feels familiar but it doesn't do it in a way that is obvious. Many of the images were new to me. The colouring is subtly done and very naturalistic giving you that 'I imagine myself there' feeling.
What I like slightly less, is that it is a history book. Yes, that is entirely personal. I'm more interested in social history and if there was a sequel that'd deal with broader human condition, I'd buy it in an instant.
As to the argument, somewhat weird, that the colour spoils the images, or somehow is representative of the cultural dumbing down, having read the book, I feel neither robbed of the black and white charm, nor feel myself any stupider for wanting to see what these images could look like in colour.
If you prefer black and white, why purchase this book?
To my mind, this book is less about aesthetics (although there's plenty enough of that and as I said the book is beautifully executed) and more about fly-on-the-wall time travel experience.
I appreciate the diversify of the topics and photos that span 110 years of history through 200 photo’s. It’s often not the most obvious or best-known photos they selected to depict an event. And there is a lot of attention for events that most people would have glossed over by now.
In the past I’ve been looking up historic-restored and colourized photos online and they usually leave me astonished and deeply impressed. This book provides you with a selection of the most amazing of such photo’s and they come accompanied by Dan Jones’ excellent explanations and context. The main artist however is Marina, her painstaking job deserves most praise. She only started a number of years ago but she already has grown into an historic photo colourisation authority.
The majority of the photo’s now appear as if they were taken recently or just a few decades ago, and generally left me in awe. But I must say a small selection of the photos are a bit less impressive. It might be my perception but here either the colour scheme is unrealistically bright or too much contrast was used. And like with most black and white photos that get colourised; the greyish contrasts continue to shine through the colours. I’m surprised that given all the research Marina and Dan still had to 'choose' colours and tones, as they explain in the introduction. I always understood that there is a scientific method to determine original colours based on the grey tone in the picture, and apparently colour blind people can help to identify colours from grey tones.
That brings me to the objections from the historical purists that argue that colourized-in photo’s falsify history. I struggle to agree. Any history that is narrated or depicted is coloured - sorry for the pun – by our own perceptions and contemporary experiences. And the original photos are still there to admire. This work only gives a very different, often more impactful view into historic events.
So I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will continue to enjoy the book. Even my wife and kids that are usually hard pushed on historical topics browsed through it with lots of interest. This triggered questions that in turn sparked discussion. Excellent.
Given that the book is nicely bound and comes with a hard cover it is now prominently displayed on our coffee table.
Can’t wait for part 2 of The Colour of Time!