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Fourth (2007) Edition Only Somewhat Improved from Third (1997) Edition
on April 20, 2008
The 3rd edition of this book, published in 1997, is a popular textbook for college art history classes and is held by many libraries. The hardcover 4th edition published in 2007, whose ISBN-13 is 9780789209467, has a similar dust jacket and is also 9"x12" (but has 712 pages, as opposed to the previous edition's 695). Both editions are visually attractive and informative.
Overall, the 4th edition improves upon the 3rd only somewhat. The chapter numbers and names, and the titles of the interspersed sections on notable topics and technical histories, are unchanged. I leafed through the 3rd and 4th editions, and chapters 1-10 have no significant differences. In other words, recent trends and findings in the history of photography prior to 1950 have been omitted. I would have liked to see at least mention of more old photobooks (e.g., Moi Ver's 1931 "Paris," Brodovitch's 1945 "Ballet," and Heisler & Styrsky's 1945 "On the Needles of These Days"), interest in which has increased this decade, and a sentence or two on the 2002 discovery of an 1825 photo by Niepce.
Chapters 11 ("Photography Since 1950: The Straight Image" and 12 ("Photography Since 1950: Manipulations and Color") on pages 516-629 were only moderately revised compared with the 1997 edition. I count 2 photos dropped from the old edition and 11 new photos. Changes in the text include addition of some female, non-Western, and contemporary male photographers; more material on "Digital Imaging" on pages 620-625; and a couple new paragraphs on "The Market for Photographs" on page 625.
The current edition has slightly revised text on pages 630-631 about "Digital Image-Making," a new afterword on pages 639-641, an updated time line on pages 655-660, a glossary on pages 661-665 now with terms related to digital imaging, and references as recent as 2007 on pages 666-683.
I could find only a few mistakes (e.g., "Todd" instead of "Tod" Papageorge on page 527, "Miquel" instead of "Miguel" Rio Branco on page 547, and limitations of definitions of "burning" and "dodging" on pages 661-2 to only digital techniques). The numbering of figures on pages 630-640 is incorrect (should be 816-828, not 808-819 and 816). A number of major 20th-century photographers (e.g., Ralph Gibson, Jeff Wall, and Francesca Woodman) were excluded, which is unfortunate. There is no mention of "paparazzi" or "Photoshop" (in specific, not just the general discussion of software on page 631); for better or for worse, both of these have influenced the history of photography.
In summary, if you have the 3rd edition, there's little reason to obtain this one. If you don't have the 3rd edition, or if you have the 3rd but want some updates in the material on the 1950s and beyond, buy this book from Amazon.com!