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Portrait in Light and Shadow: The Life of Yousuf Karsh Hardcover – February 20, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"'Writing with her customary flair and acuity, Maria Tippett has given us a marvellous portrait of Yousuf Karsh and his long and interesting career. She has also deepened our understanding of the role of photography in the cultural and artistic history of the twentieth century.' Margaret MacMillan, author of Peacemakers and Nixon in China."

About the Author

Maria Tippett is a cultural historian now living in British Columbia. She was senior research fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge, and has written biographies of the painter Emily Carr and of F. H. Varley.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (February 20, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300136501
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300136500
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.8 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,787,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mike B on July 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A fine biography of Karsh. Ms Tippett starts with his life in the Middle East - how and his parents managed to escape and survive the Turkish genocide of the Armenian people. Mr. Karsh came to Canada at the age of fourteen to live with his uncle in Sherbrooke. His uncle was a successful portrait photographer in that region of Southern Quebec and this started Karsh off on his career. He married Solange Gauthier who played a pivotal role through-out his life. They met in Ottawa where Karsh had started work in a photo studio. Solange helped him to solidify and expand his governmental contacts in the Capital city. He took photographs of Prime Minister MacKenzie King as well as other government officials. Solange always helped in his work by seeking clients for her husband; prior to the studio shoots she would inform Karsh of the background of his client and during the portraits she would help put his customers at ease. Karsh's big break-thru came in 1941 when he took the forever defiant and memorable photo of Winston Churchill, just after he had finished speaking in the Canadian Parliament. With this added to his portfolio and shown in newspapers and magazines around the world (except Germany), Karsh was forever in demand. During the war he traveled to England and the U.S. This was with hundreds of pounds of camera equipment and before air travel.
Ms. Tippett hi-lights many of the important photo's of Karsh's career and the book has many of these - most of which are excellent. All are well constructed and the technique immaculate. As Ms. Tippett points out Karsh was criticized in the photographic community as being commercial and a `celebrity chaser'. But it must also be acknowledged that all his photos are dignified and timeless.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pam Easton on June 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have always loved the photography and portraits by Karsh. I only regret never making an appointment with him for my own portrait. Now that he has died I can only dream what that experience may have been. He was very approachable, and brilliant. This book covers allot of information, and at times a bit dry, but as a resource about the man and his long career, little is left out. Any student of Karsh should have this book in their collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Claudia Scott on July 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Being a fairly new Karsh fan, this book is a wonderful and interesting source of information about the man who created the most beautiful photographs of 'anyone who was anyone' during the twentieth century. His amazing story of beginning as an Armenian refugee to living the grand lifestyle he definitely earned (along with his two wives, who were both full partners in his lifework makes for a very interesting read). I also recommend ordering Karsh, a Biography in Images, as well. The quality of the photos in both books is outstanding and when I show them to friends, they actually sigh in admiration at some of the pictures. He is the Michelangelo of Photography. Claudia Scott, Florida
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