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The Civil War in Color: A Photographic Reenactment of the War Between the States Hardcover – November 6, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Author and photographer John Guntzelman’s latest book, with its hand-colored images from the Civil War, will rank at the top of many “must have” lists. .  . . In this masterpiece of colorization work, Guntzelman provides a period image in its original form, a hand-painted example from that era, and finally his masterful creation. He admits the artistic interpretation involved in producing these colorful images.
       However, Guntzelman has researched descriptions of his subjects to enhance the accuracy of his color representations.  Having wide latitude in civilian, especially women’s, clothing, he has created believable color depictions of women and men’s attire. His images are stunning, clear and haunting, and have almost a high definition, 3-D quality.
       The book covers such topics as ordinary citizens, slaves, soldiers, war machines, destruction, Abraham Lincoln and casualties. Included are original images to compare with the colored images of Guntzelman’s work.  As an extra bonus, a pull-out photo is provided for the reader to examine and keep.
       Not only have images of people been colorized but also buildings, ships, cannons, trenches and countrysides. The colorized image of Robert E. Lee’s Gettysburg headquarters is excellent, as are a 15-inch Rodman gun and a pontoon bridge spanning the James River, to name a few. The 1865 image of the McLean house at Appomattox Court House by Timothy O’Sullivan could easily be mistaken for a modern-day photograph.
       To assist those who wish to delve deeper into the Civil War, Guntzelman provides two pages of books and websites to visit. In addition, he lists additional sources on Civil War photography.
This work is highly recommended and will be a source of enjoyment for many years to come . . . a real bargain for the serious and amateur collector of reference material on Civil War history." —Civil War News 

About the Author

John C. Guntzelman is an experienced cinematographer, director, and Civil War buff. He has won a number of awards, including one national and two regional Emmys®, a New York International Film Festival Gold Medal, and a National Press Photographers Association Documentary Cinematography Award, and has written articles for American Cinematographer magazine. He lives in Cincinnati, OH.
 
Writer, journalist, and historian Bob Zeller is one of the country's leading authorities on Civil War photography, and president of the Center for Civil War Photography (civilwarphotography.org). He is the author of The Blue and Gray in Black and White: A History of Civil War Photography (2005) and The Civil War in Depth (1997), the first 3-D photo history of the war. Bob lives in Trinity, NC.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling (November 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402790813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402790812
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 10.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Catman on November 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I saw this book while browsing at my local bookstore and, like another reviewer, at first glance thought it was a collection of re-inactor photos. I was amazed when I started paging through to see many famous photos in what appeard to me to be actual color. This is not just some paint-over photoshop job; its unbelievable transformations. The detail is astounding and I find the color brings in a lot of detail that's hard to see in the original black and white and also adds depth of field. The authors did not try to fix distortions or blemishes on the originals which I thought added an element of believability. However, in some cases the defects in the original seemed to me not to translate as well into color and those, to my eye, do seem more like a modern version of old-fashioned coloring. Most of the many photos, though, are true masterpieces.

My only real criticism is that I would like to have seen an expanded section on how the work was accomplished. The author does go into a little detail about how he researched the correct colors but the explanation of the technical methods emplyed is only a few sentences. A few paragraphs and perhaps a few illustrations regarding the process would have added a lot of interest.

Still, its an incredibel piece of work. If you are interested in Civil War photography I think you'll want a copy of this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Here's a book that far exceeds the simplicity of its title. It's as much art as it is history, powerfully conveying the sensibility of the times as well the people and events portrayed. For me, the choice of photographs, their coloring, framing and layout, the captions, and the text all work together to heighten the reality of the Civil War. In many instances, seeing the black & white photos juxtaposed against the colorized version was especially powerful--where the original images feel flat and lifeless, the color images are dynamic. Their poignancy and immediacy took me by surprise. Color brought the past much closer and more real.

Guntzelman's description of his approach to colorizing the photos, including the painstaking research he undertook to maximize integrity to the colors--eye and hair colors, the color of cloth and dyes available back then, even the difference between a color in shade and in bright sunlight--indicate that this was a labor of love by a highly skilled artist. I highly recommend this book for the photographs and the information it provides, but mostly because it moved me well beyond what I expected from the title.
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Format: Hardcover
Colorizing photographs has been around nearly as long as photography itself. In efforts to transcend the limits of their medium early photographers would often hand tint their photographs with a broad use of various artistic techniques and tools. Some were more successful than others, but I think it's fair to say, no improvement made then, to the black and white, gray, and sepia toned images, rendered anything close to the lifelike photographic quality that we of the 21st century are accustomed to today. The vibrant colors of today's real life keep the gray and sepia monochromatic toned photographs of one hundred and fifty years ago at a removed distance from their modern day viewers.

As an experienced cinematographer John C. Guntzelman has merged his knowledge of 21st century photographic technology and his passion for the American Civil War and created "The Civil War in Color: A Photographic Reenactment of the War Between the States," a coffee table sized book of colorized images from the Civil War.

Having carefully colorized some of the most iconic images from America's greatest conflict, Mr. Guntzelman has resurrected them from the dusty and murky past and gives them a reality and an immediacy that they have never had before. The colorized photograph of Alexander Gardener's February 5th, 1865 portrait of Abraham Lincoln (on page 24) looks as if he were sitting for the portrait today, and gives him a humanity that is somewhat removed from the original photograph.

Guntzelman's colorizations are, however, somewhat hit-and-miss. The blue uniforms in portraits of Union Generals in the front of the book, such as Ulysses S. Grant, William Sherman, Philip Sheridan seem to be too much of a vibrant blue.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First I must say, that John C.Guntzelman did an amazing job of bring life to images taken 150 years ago. I have studied The American Civil War for the past 50+ years and am not going into the detail of how he did it, as that is discussed in other reviews. He does talk about viewing original uniforms and talking to "venders" for reenactors, who are FANATICAL on authenticity of materials and colors. I have been a Civil War collector for over 50 years and am also a "vendor" for The Hard Core Living Historians since 1979, I have viewed and photographed original uniforms and equipment at many Civil War Collector Shows,"private" collections and the "vaults" at West Point, The Smithsonian Institution and The Museum of the Confederace. So, I am very knowledgeable on original Civil War Uniforms and Euipment.

As I said, Guntzelman did an amazing job bring these images to life, but opening the book, one of the first set of pictures is of Federal Generals U.S. Grant, William T. Sherman, George Meade,and Gerorge A. Custer. I was TOTALLY disapointed in the color of blue he uses for their officer's uniforms. First, Federal officer uniforms were privately purchased by the individual, not issued by the govenment. They all tended to be a very darker blue than the enlistedman's uniforms, but in these images, as thoughout the book, Guntzelman has the Federal officers uniforms (especially the coats) a bright blue, almost boarderng on purple, which is a trait of "modern dye, not the indego dye used during The Civil War. I was so disappointed I had a hard time looking at those images.
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