Top critical review
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Hard to read, no references on pictures, repetitive
on December 7, 2013
I liked the concept of this book, and wanted to like the book. I know a few of the various authors, and have myself spent countless hours looking through archives of original material. The book is expensively produced. However, I found it frustrating.
First, the newspapers are reproduced as if they have yellowed badly with age. Many of the originals I've looked at have hardly yellowed at all, since they were printed on cotton paper. I can't tell if they selected very yellowed newspapers as their source material or if they artificially yellowed them. Since the conceit is that this is to be viewed as news and not just history, the concept would have been better served to clean up the images of the papers, not darken them.
Second, the papers are reproduced at lots of different sizes with strange highlighting and frequent arbitrary cropping. Truthfully, I find what is for sale at the local stores as interesting as the "big" news, but this sort of thing was often cut off. Even the news that was focused on was sometimes interrupted by a text box. Frustrating.
Third, the text was repetitive. There would be a main summary of the events in the news by various authors (these are often quite good). This would have a few callouts repeating a main sentence or two. The next page might have a reproduced newspaper with a box overlaying the source and date of the newspaper and repeating a sentence or two from the summery. The newspaper article itself would often have been used almost verbatim for some of the summary. Sometimes, a length chunk of the article was added as another page. The book could have been shorter or included more newspapers.
Fourth, and my biggest complaint, is that the pictures have insufficient references. Scattered throughout the book were colorful pictures of the events discussed in the papers. A source was listed for each of these. However, critically, no date was listed, and the source information is not enough to easy track down information on the picture. For instance, "Washington Crossing the Delaware" is used (and on the cover, too). Now this is famous, and easily known that it was painted in 1851 as an allegory, and therefore of no use as a primary reference. However, there were many pictures from something called the "North Wind Picture Archives". I tried to track down one of these images to learn when it was made. Search on the title given in the book resulted in no matches at the North Wind Picture Archives. Selecting a random image there doesn't give publication details, either. I don't know if these were made yesterday, a hundred years ago, or at the time when the news was fresh. As such, these pictures are valueless filler.