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Car Crashes & Other Sad Stories (English, German and French Edition) Hardcover – May 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Taschen; 1st edition (May 1, 2000)
  • Language: English, German, French
  • ISBN-10: 3822864110
  • ISBN-13: 978-3822864111
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 1 x 9.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #507,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Kilpatrick (1902^-62) was basically a working stiff who held down two jobs at once to support a growing family. He was a movie projectionist in the mid-1940s in California when he got a still camera and made himself invaluable to insurance companies and the highway patrol as a photographer of auto wrecks and later to the Santa Ana Register as a news photographer. Dumas' selection of his work concentrates on images of accident and death, including murders and suicides as well as highway fatalities. She speculates that Kilpatrick's pictures may have been influenced by the films noir he saw from the projection booth, but most were taken at night and required the spotlighting that produces their noirish chiaroscuro. In any event, presented one per black-bordered page, they are riveting--ghastly, to be sure, but not repulsive, like Joel Peter Witkin's tableaus featuring cadavers. Instead, they inspire awe, pity, and the humbling acknowledgment of mortality, just as the horrid medieval images of the crucified Christ were intended to do. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By David J. Hogan on August 3, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Ordinarily I might be loath to recommend a collection of car-crash photos--complete with bodies of victims--yet Mell Kilpatrick's Car Crashes exists in a realm far removed from exploitation and even, ultimately, from horror. Kilpatrick lived and worked in Orange County, California, and took up photography around 1950, at age 47. He quickly came to specialize in images of traffic accidents, which he sold for profit to insurance companies. He was making a living and performing a service. Gradually, though, the aesthetics and other implications of what he was shooting superseded commerce and the insurance-company connection. He wanted to shoot for art's sake. Armed with a police scanner and willing to leap from his bed when one of his many police or trooper friends phoned in the middle of the night, Kilpatrick continued to photograph the miserable results of speed, drinking, foolishness, and just plain bad luck.The images are resonant for numerous reasons. First, like the great train photographer Winston O. Link, Kilpatrick shot in black and white and mainly at night. Like Link, he used a heavy flash that illuminated the scenes in searing, deep-focus detail. The images seem to rise from the page. They have weight and an uncanny dimensionality. Second, the fact that the images date from the late forties and early fifties provides a cultural interest that is undeniably nostalgic--you're interested in the now-vintage cars (including their shocking lack of safety features) and the hand-lettered signs that announce hot dog stands and gas stations, and in the baggy-hip wardrobes of victims and onlookers.Read more ›
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Michael Moore on May 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Mell Kirkpatrick's photographs in this book are like none I have seen before, and I have seen many searing, tragic photos of wars and natural catastrophes in my lifetime. Taken primarily in Orange County, Southern California during the late 40's and 50's, these sad photographic tales of auto crash victims require no words; as you page through this book, you feel tremendous sympathy for the hapless victims, and a hundred questions come to your mind. I do not recommend this powerful photographic study to the weak-hearted or the squeamish. But if stark and disturbing death scenes do not bother you, this is your book. May I also suggest you play the last movement of Gustav Mahler's 9th Symphony while looking through this book to heighten the experience.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Crow on March 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Before my stepdaughter went off to her first driving class, I showed her this book. I think it made an impression. Makes you think about the responsibilty and risks you assume when you get behind the wheel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By lechatnoir35 on August 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I was waiting for my flight leaving Las Vegas and entered a Borders. I was searching through the store and found this book for $2.99. When I started looking at it I realized that all the accidents were from my area, Orange County California, I thought that was neat. I actually bought the book for the pictures. I am a criminal justice major and a lot of these pictures are very good forensic photos for the time. It is very educational to look at them so you can pic out the flaws of the investigations, and also the positive points of the investigation.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David C. Anderson on August 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Not as gruesome as death scenes - but still interesting. Espescially if you are from the orange county, Ca. area where all of these pictures are taken. It's really funny to see places like Anaheim covered with Orange groves in every direction and other places looking like a desert when the area is so developed now. It lacks the benefit of a focused narration (like Katherine Dunn's electrifying introduction to Death Scenes) but is interesting nevertheless. What happens when you don't use a seatbelt? Buy this book and see for yourself.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Many other reviewers of this book have expressed shock and horror at the gruesome images contained in this book. One reviewer was appalled that this book could be found within easy reach of children and adults who may find the material objectionable. In my opinion, this book should be required "reading" if that is a proper term given the all photograph content. Why? Because it shows how much all of us as consumers are at the mercy of those who manufacture the goods that we need. Because when one looks beyond the severely mangled bodies and surveys the damage to the actual vehicles, one thing is amazingly clear: the damage involved is high, but the speeds involved in these wrecks on average is low. Indeed, these wrecks that ended up in tragedy would hardly cause a scrape to the modern driver because of advances in safety technology. One reviewer commented about the flimsiness of the Detroit product, but that's only the end of the story. How many people alive today even remember that cars didn't always come with seatbelts, and that Detroit fought the seatbelt lobby brought by consumers for years by arguing that it was safer for a driver to be thrown from the vehicle than to be strapped in to it during a wreck? These drivers are killed and disfigured over and over again not because they didn't wear their seatbelt, but because there wasn't even a seatbelt installed in the car. However, as crazy as it sounds, it may have been better in those days not to be strapped in. All you have to do is read as a companion to this book the famous "Unsafe at Any Speed" by Ralph Nader to know why. As, Nader explains, and this book shows, many of the people in this era were killed when the metal steering wheel hub was thrown by collision impact like a sledgehammer into the driver's head and face.Read more ›
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