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on 19 July 2009
I am a keen photographer and I've been looking for books that say something about the cultural status of photgraphs; their interpretations and meanings; and a discussion of photgraphs as objects of social and cultural change. I bought this book together with Graham Clark's "The Photograph" (also available on Amazon!) hoping that one of these, if not both, would give me something more than the staid and dull 'how to' books that proliferate.

I wasn't prepared for what a HUGE book this is! Bigger than A4, 544 pages of thick, quality paper (the book weighs a ton!) with at least one and usually three-four pictures per facing pair of sides. The quallity of thr reproductions is terrific too.

This is the complete cultural history that I was searching for, right froom the very early days. The first reproduction proper in theh content is Joseph Nicephore Niepce's 8-hour exposure "View from the window at Gras" - that's how far back the book goes.

I like the author's style of writing - she's witty and at times humourous, as well as being confident in her knowledge and passionate about her subject. I like that it's not just a straight-through read - every so often there's a 1 or 2 side special feature on a particular subject - on everything from Lewis Carroll's prediliction for photographing children (especially Alice) to taking pictures of atomic explosions.

It's easily academic enough to be a reference work at least at undergrad level and probably more, and not just in art and photography-related disciplines - this would easily be a great benefit to someone looking at (for example) cultural studies. It's as much a discussion about the changing face of society as it is photography. It's difficult not to be moved by the pictures of girls as young as 8-9 working full-time in factories.

A great reference book, a terrific coffee table book, inspiration and theory for photographers - and at Amazon it's more than a tenner off cover price.
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on 9 June 2010
A friend who is studying photography at university sent me the advised reading list for her course. She said if you can only buy one book from the list buy this one.
I did and I'm delighted. The information is clear, informational and interesting and it is well illustrated with brilliant images from top photographers through history. The section on war is especially gripping (if a little graphic) and the author is not afraid to address sensitive subjects. in general it's a great reference and an informative history of the developement of photographic science. If photography is your interest your business or your passion then I would really recommend this book.
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Not very good - better books out there
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on 11 February 2011
A very thorough, clearly written book with excellent production values. A great overview for anyone interested in photography and its relationship to society.
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on 23 June 2013
Enjoyable, well-written, well illustrated with some surprises, erudite though weak on technicalities (actually, ignores much of modern development. Nonetheless, highly recommended.
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on 11 November 2013
I was borrowing this from the library at university, but decided I need my own copy. It's an excellent book that has so much information on the history of photography, and photographers, operating on every level of the medium, documentary, art, reportage, surrealist, abstract, modernist (however there is a lack of fashion). This book analyses photographers and photography in their cultural context referring to the time and place where they occur and in a way that is unpretentious, informative, and so easy to read. I've written two quite high scoring essays in my photography degree where this book helped to no end. I love it!!
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on 29 February 2016
This book is 568 pages, I expected it to be big, but after finding it in my mailbox... Well, it's humongous, sizewise it's a very big book.

Obviously I have not read all of it, and I do not expect to do so in quite a while, because this book is f***ing huge.

I Intend to use it for future university studies, and for that purpose it most certainly is brilliant, it seems to cover most of the photograph's very large history, great source material.

Bought it for 10£, shipping included, much bang for buck.
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on 4 July 2014
This large book is invaluable if you are studying photography at University level, which I am. It gives you an insight into photography over a vast period of time, and is written in detail, but in a clear and simple format, and opens your eyes to subjects you may never have thought to look at before. The balance between text and photography is good, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has a serious interest in photography.
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on 26 September 2010
This book follows the course of history from a photographical perspective from about 1800 to the current. I guess due to the immediacy of photography, and the fact that a picture is more believable than a historical account, this book has a greater appeal to me than other history books I have read. Photographic history is intertwined with a cultural context, across the globe. Its quite an inspiring book, and several books have been added to my Amazon wish list as a result of reading this, from photographic stuff like "Family of Man" to culturally important books like "Lonely Crowd". Some of it is really well written, summarising historical context succinctly for someone like me with the attention span of a peanut. My only complaint would be that there is no mention of technical photographic progress, beyond the initial invention of the camera...for instance the importance of the SLR and Nikon F cameras for Vietnam might have been an idea...I guess the author is a historian with an appreciation for looking at photos, rather than for taking photos.
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on 24 March 2016
This was my go to book during my commercial photography degree. There was great photographs as well as background information that was very much useful.
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