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The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century Hardcover – August 2, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Rare book maven Andrew Roth has turned his powers of judgment toward photography in The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the 20th Century. Given two full pages each, the selections receive a bibliographic and physical description and a publishing history, as well as cover images and a few choice samples of their contents there are 500 color illustrations in all. Volume one of Curtis's 1907 The North American Indian kicks off the book, followed by plenty of other familiar luminaries, from Stieglitz to Ansel Adams to Henri Cartier-Bresson to Diane Arbus and Nan Goldin. Surprises include Max Ernst and Ren‚ Crevel's Mr. Knife Miss Fork, Bauhaus "phenom" Leszli Moholy-Nagy's Malerei Fotografie Film, and Gilles Peress's Telex Iran, to name a few. Essays by six scholars, artists and critics round out this unusual, beautifully produced collection.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Rare book dealer and gallerist Roth delivers just what the title promises. Two or four pages are given to each of 101 books, from Edward Curtis's The North American Indian: Volume 1 (1907) to David LaChapelle's LaChapelle Land (1996). Naturally, a few choices are bound to offend any given reader's taste (LaChapelle Land?!), but overall Roth's choices fairly represent both stunning individual achievements (Hans Bellmer's La Poup‚e) and landmarks in the evolution of both the medium (Larry Clark's Tulsa) and the genre (Robert Frank's The Americans). For each book, the cover and at least a couple of interior spreads are reproduced and accompanied by complete bibliographic information as well as a cogent and concise essay on the book's significance. Together with a half dozen essays on broader themes gallerist Jeffrey Fraenkel on publishing, photographer Daido Moriyama on the creative process, librarian May Castleberry on preservation and access these would be worth the price of the book. The addition of the sumptuous reproductions from so many titles that are simply unavailable to most libraries make this an essential purchase for any serious photography collection. Eric Bryant, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 305 pages
  • Publisher: PPP Editions / Roth Horowitz, LLC (November 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967077443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967077444
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 9.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,211,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Edward Tufte on January 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is an extraordinary book, both for its content and design. The book provides a wonderful view of 20th-century photography and photographic books, reproducing several double-page spreads (at reduced size) from a well-chosen list of 101 great photographic books. There is so much to see and think about here.
The catalog entries, luminously written by Vince Aletti and David Levi Strauss, provide a fairly detailed description, history, and analysis of each of the photographic books. And there are several essays on the history and techniques of photographic publishing; these essays are informative, smart, learned.
This is one of the best-designed books in recent years. The typography, layout, and printing quality are just perfect, at the very highest level of excellence. Andrew Roth and Jerry Kelly did the book design; Sue Medlicott supervised the printing which was done superbly at the Stamperia Valdonega.
In the last few months, I have seen 3 extraordinary visual books that powerfully demonstrate just how wonderful books can be:
(1)The Book of 101 Books by Andrew Roth and colleagues
(2)The Atlas of Oregon (2nd edition) by William Loy, Stuart Allen, Aileen R. Buckley, and James E.Meacham
(3)Artists' Books in the Modern Era 1870-2000: The Reva and David Logan Collection of Illustrated Books, by Robert Flynn Johnson and Donna Stein, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robin on October 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Now this is something special! As a publication designer I can appreciate the care and thought that went into this stunning and unique book. Andrew Roth, in the introduction, explains his brilliant idea, 'The basis for my selection was simple. Foremost, a book had to be a thoroughly considered production; the content, the mise-en-page, choice of paper stock, reproduction quality, text, typeface, binding, jacket design, scale - all of the elements had to blend together to fit naturally within the whole'. I would agree with all of that (I have eight of the 101) and also his selection of the photographic books which mostly exemplify what he was searching for.

Not all of these criteria apply to each book though. The author has wisely included all the covers to his selection and I don't think there is a single book jacket shown that I would class as excellence in design, that is, the title and image working together as one to sum up the contents for a potential purchaser. Mostly they are the usual publishers' marketing department output, a single photo or image with some (bland) typography added. Strangely the cover to 'The Book Of 101 Books' is rather dull and typographically conservative.

Another area where, I think, many of the books fall short of the author's criteria is the lack of captioning. Many of the reproduced spreads clearly just have the photos on the page with no information for the reader. Why do publishers (and possibly even the photographers) think that beautiful, imaginative and stimulating photos don't need some textual explanation on the same page?
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By The Hammer on January 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The amount of impact a single photo can have is well known. What hasn't been as clearly shown before is how much power collections of photographs can (and have) had. The gathering together of photographs related by theme or time or geography or other subject makes an artistic statement of its own. You have to love books as much as photographs, and be open to the idea that the making of books is an art form, to love this book.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By T. TOM TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is undoubtedly a good reference, but you should not consider it a comprehensive one.
With a decidedly American slant, the book ignores the rich photography cultures of Japan, Russian constructivists and even of Europeans after 1945. Even on the topics which the book does cover, there are a few glaring ommissions. But I'm still glad to see this book come out and the author certainly makes no claims that the books list is a comprehensive one, just a seminal one.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Range of Light on March 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are many good books about the history of photography, there some excellent books about the history of photography and there are a few fantastic books about the history of photography--this is one of the fantastic books. Well written, expertly designed and beautifully printed. This book is a classic.
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