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New Orleans 1867 Hardcover – February 1, 2008

14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Van Zante's book is a fine tribute both to Lilienthal and to New Orleans. ...The photographs themselves [are] finely reproduced [and] are accompanied by illuminating and fully referenced commentaries ...
--Helen Taylor, Journal of American Studies

These photographs, and Van Zante's excellent framework of exegesis, remind us of the rich architectural, commercial, social and pictorial legacy of one of the world's most fascinating cities... --Helen Taylor, Journal of American Studies

For those with an interest in New Orleans, or in American cities in the mid-nineteenth century, New Orleans 1867 is a necessary addition to their library." --John Ferguson, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians

"Van Zante has done an incredible job of research, writing, and editing, offering not only a visual image of New Orleans in 1867 but an understanding of its architecture, commerce, and history. Highly recommended." --Damie Stillman, Choice

About the Author

Gary A. Van Zante is Curator of Architecture and Design at the MIT Museum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was formerly Curator of the Southeastern Architectural Archive at Tulane University, New Orleans.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Merrell; 1st edition (February 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1858942101
  • ISBN-13: 978-1858942100
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 9.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,079,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Henry Berry on March 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Guy A. Van Zante is presently Curator of Architecture and Design at MIT. For eight years up until 2002, he was curator of Southeastern Architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans. He's working on two book projects of historic New Orleans architecture. Van Zante's background, including regional roots and high-level, visible academic positions, makes him the ideal author for this work. He describes his project, "This book is about a city ad its aspirations, and a photographer and his ambitions, and how they cam together to create a powerful image of city building to a world audience." The photographer Lilienthal was German born. Though prominent in his day, he is largely unknown today. When he died in 1894 with no successors, his most significant photographic work--namely the 150 or so New Orleans photographs recorded here--became lost to the public. They turned up--of all places--in 1906 among the family heirlooms of Napoleon III in Arenenberg, Switzerland, where the Emperor lived as a boy. The collection eventually came to be exhibited in New Orleans in 2000. It is virtually priceless since there are no known negatives and only one duplicate print.

Though the first book covering this major historical find, Van Zante's book is definitive in that cannot be surpassed in expertise nor in scope and thoroughness. Unfailingly through the book's architectonic structure and its labyrinth of pertinent and frequently colorful details, Van Zante remains an authoritative director.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eugene R. Groves on December 7, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the very best books of its type that I've ever seen or read. The footnotes are packed with details that those with very specialized interests would want to know. These details are so often omitted in books thus frustrating the scholars. Including them in the text would make the book far too technical (and too long and too expensive) for the average reader. As to the pictures, I would rather have more and smaller than less and larger. The essential ones are large. It is only the ones related to the essential ones which have been made smaller so we can have more illustrations to connect his work at different time periods. It's about time someone did a book like this to recognize the genius of Lilienthal.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael Garff on December 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
What a disappointment! This promised to be a book with and about photos. And by the size of the volume it could have been. But the author seem to have no appreciation for the pictures other than a purely academic one. The small size of the photos almost entirely deprives the reader of his own exploration and instead relies on the accompanying text to "see" the details. And why the almost endless footnotes/bibliography? Many of the relevant details are hidden in those lists and could have been included in the descriptions. Anything else could have been "stowed away" in the back of the book and given room for a better display of the great images. - The author with his words draws an insightful picture of the time in NO. But Lillienthal's photos seem to be relegated to illustrate those words. Very disappointing
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jim on August 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The photos are quite beautiful and it's great to see images that haven't been seen as one single collection for so long, but the photos could have been printed in a larger format, and I found the text could have been better researched and presented more cohesively. The text reads like a long exhibition catalog.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Vera Zimmerman on August 14, 2015
Format: Hardcover
New Orleans 1867 by Gary Van Zante is an encyclopedic volume with so much information it will take a reader many months to digest it all. The comprehensive bibliographic and biographical coverage has been most helpful. I have found it very helpful in writing my blog about my great grandmother's letters and papers, Belle's Letters. Outstanding!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Benedetto on January 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When the New Orleans photographer T. Lilienthal was hired by his City to use the relatively new medium of photography to promote and resurrect it after the Civil War, he used the gold standard of the day: large format glass plates with their immensely rich detail and capacity for enlarged reproduction. What does one see in this absurd book? A very few full-page reproductions in the cover and chapter frontispieces, then rarely anything more than 2x3 INCH snippets placed almost as illustrative footnotes in the predominantly text-based pages. The narrative is very detailed and well-researched, but this book is promoted as an exposition of Lilienthal's brilliant survey of 1867, not a history text book. As a fervent admirer of New Orleans, I find this book to be a crushing disappointment given its stated purpose and I will return it. I will wait instead for a reasonable presentation of this photographic collection nearly lost to time, with full-page spreads that would do justice to the immediacy, nuance and presence of the rich originals in which everything from the pride in the faces of the people, to little bits of trash on the sidewalks, can be savored by posterity.
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