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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

In its time, Life magazine was the virtual equivalent of today's 'Hello' or 'OK', a mix of news and celebrities but without the big money payments for coverage of someone's wedding. Life employed some of the best photographers working in the USA then available and examples of many are included here. A mini-listing of about a dozen is included on the back cover and it is by no means complete. The nearest British competitor at the time would have been 'Picture Post' which, like life, no is longer published.

Life had several phases and closed more than once, only to be relaunched in a slightly different form. The final re-launch was subsequent to its acquisition by and merging with Time magazine, creating Time-Life which was later absorbed by Warner Bros. Originally launched in the 1880s as a text-based magazine, from 1936-72 it took the form which is most remembered, the weekly pictorial magazine. For a few years it was infrequently published before becoming a monthly that ran from 1978-2000. For about 4 years from 2004, it was issued as a supplement to some newspapers and later assumed an on-line entity only under the Time-Life banner.

Just as with National Geographic magazine, although the two served a substantially different readership, there were similarities in that some of the published articles were dictated by its editors, some were projects by a specific photographer and the remainder open assignments. Most of the images included relate to the period when it was a weekly pictorial magazine, 1936-72 which was historically important as it included the recovery from the Great Depression of 1929, World War 2, the Korean and Vietnamese wars that followed and the assassinations of the two Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King.

Most of the images are black and white and rather few are in colour. Many would easily classify as 'News', several as 'Celebrity' or 'Portraits' and the remainder as 'general interest'. It is quite substantial, at over 600 pages and there is at least one image on just about every page, including the brief introduction. The internal organisation is alphabetical by the photographer's name and therefore there is no chronological sequence. In many instances, there are quotations presumably by the photographer to explain the circumstances of certain images, but by no means all.

For its photography, historical relevance and for the fans of the magazine in its heyday (I only ever saw a few random copies which had been sent by a relative who was a 'GI bride'), I would suggest that this might be a valuable addition to a book collection.
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on 16 May 2014
I can sit for hours absorbed by images such as the ones in this book. I have another book called "Century" which is similar in its approach. I'm not reviewing this book from the perspective of a professional photographer or photojournalist, who may have many professional criticisms, but simply from someone who loves good quality imagery that makes you think and reflect on the circumstances of the image and people involved. I don't look at this book too often which may sound odd given my review but merely I save the experience so as not to become too familiar with the imagery and keep the pleasure of viewing them... I'm sure someone will understand what I mean with that statement. Another good book to view is Reuel Goldens "Witness" which is full of imagery by eminent photojournalists, again very emotive and thought provoking.
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 6 January 2012
If you're a photography student, then this book is perfect. As photography we learn by images (quite obviously) and the severe lack of mountain blocks of text mean there's a full page photo and a name only - perfect for flicking through, and being able to read the book without actually reading it. It's easy to find a photograph for inspiration and some of them certainly aren't for the feint-hearted, so if you're already tainted with the desperation and brutality of photojournalism, then this book is ideal. The lack of history behind the photographs isn't really an issue, as once you've found a photograph that is breath-taking, the name and title can give you the research from anywhere.

If you've ever seen a photograph and felt as though your life has changed, and for a second you forgot to breathe and your eyes widened, get this book. Never before has a single book collected as many photographs that have broken the human barriers of the things we never expect to see.
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on 18 January 2015
Excellent - one of the best photographic books I have - but I try to understand, often unsuccessfully,how some of the pictures were taken and in what format. For instance fairly or very dark but all in focus without a flash strong enough to cover 100 meters plus outside with people moving, very deep depth of field (therefore small aperture with a slow film in those days) but all in focus including moving subjects such as crowds of people and moving cars. No flash visible in specticles but in focus and nice shadow on one side one the faces. Difficult to work out but brilliant just the same.
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on 18 June 2016
I did have problem with the middle2 pages which were crumpled and double printed/blurred.
I should have sent it back...
The (rest of the) book is exceptional. A book to dip in and out of. Pictures of beauty, war, expression, impression - along with details of photographers and subjects. Excellent recommended.
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on 2 July 2015
Anyone who likes imaging should have this book. Some of the pictures influenced world events, some are just fantastically good pictures, which stand alone. Some are controversial, to this day. Read it and learn from the best. I started reading Life magazine in my teens, as it was full of inspirational images, and started a 50 years plus interest in photography. It`s also a real history of the 20th century. Buy it!
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on 25 May 2014
This book (along with The Family Of Man) should be essential reading for photographers of any style, however, as inspiration for a film-based photographer it is faultless. I see hardly anyone photographing as well as this this days - it's like the whole digital diaspora has turned the thoughtful and chosen image into a case of spray and pray, with similarly terrible results.
If you do decide to go for this book, try and get the hardback - it is more manageable.
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on 27 February 2017
Some truly great photos in this book. Some "iconic" some, just very good photos of unfolding events at the time.
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on 27 July 2017
Superb, quick delivery, great product, well packaged, great price - can't ask for more !
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on 17 October 2015
Spend many happy hours thumbing through the images in this book. It contains some of the most iconic images of the twentieth century, along with some lesser known but still wonderful photographs.
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