From Library Journal
This catalog to an exhibition of photographs of the desert areas of the American West held at the Whitney Museum this past summer should satisfy our continuing fascination with the region while at the same time analyzing the evolution of its unique meanings. Castleberry, the Whitney's librarian and curator of special collections, has written a well-researched and perceptive introduction that examines photographic books as unique historical tools that "make excellent barometers for gauging the interests-or fantasies-of the historical consumer." The lead essay, by Martha Sandweiss (American studies, Amherst Coll.), provides an overview of the evolution of the photographic book as a narrative medium from the latter part of the 19th century to the present. The 20 short essays that follow, written by a group of notable historians, curators, and novelists, delve more deeply into specific titles and projects in the genre. Highlights include Robert Coles's interpretation of Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor's An American Exodus (1939) as a "milestone" in social documentary, and Robert Sobieszek's insightful comments on the bulldozed landscapes of Lewis Baltz's Nevada (1978). Castleberry has chosen an excellent approach and format for exploring the mythic nature of the arid West. An impeccably produced work that would make a fine addition to most collections.Kathy J. Anderson, Indiana Univ., Bloomington
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.