Most helpful positive review
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful images - a feast for the eyes.
on January 5, 2000
This is a small book loaded with powerful images. Daguerreotypes and ambrotypes of African-Americans from the author's collection and the J. Paul Getty collection are beautifully reproduced. The author, however, should have let these images stand on their own. The majority of photographs taken before 1860 have, due to the passage of time and lack of documentation, become anonymous, with little information about their subjects preserved. It is tempting for viewers (and especially collectors) to speculate on the identity and life of the sitter. While this makes for lively text, there is no guarantee that what the author puts forth is any closer to the reality than what the reader sees in the image. A fireman's helmet makes him a fireman, but it doesn't necessarily make him a Philadelphia fireman. Fine clothes do not always make the sitter well-to-do. Collectors should resist the temptation to attribute more to an image than meets the eye. Ultimately, they should let the images, magnificent in their own right, speak for themselves. Look at these images and fall into your own vision of history's bravest souls.