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Civil War Sketch Book: Drawings from the Battlefront Hardcover – May 14, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“These raw but deft on-the-spot sketches capture the Civil War battlefield as it really must have been―often confused, always fast-moving and sometimes terrifying. The artists who made them were nearly as courageous as the troops they followed. No one interested in the era should miss this handsome and revealing volume.” (Geoffrey Ward, coauthor with Ken Burns of The Civil War: An Illustrated History)

“...Informatively presenting the artists and the circumstances of their sketches, Katz and Virga help us envision the Civil War as contemporaries would have visualized it through the magazines they read.” (Booklist)

“These accounts, along with the sketches themselves and the narrative framework the authors provide, give this handsome volume―also a landmark in the study of pictorial journalism―a special immediacy that will appeal to Civil War buffs and many others. Most highly recommended.” (Library Journal)

About the Author

Harry L. Katz is the former head curator of the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress and the author of Baseball Americana and Herblock. He lives in Del Mar, California.

Vincent Virga has authored or coauthored seven major picture books, including, most recently, Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations. He lives in New York City and in County Mayo, Ireland.

Alan Brinkley is professor of history at Columbia University and author of numerous books, including The End of Reform.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (May 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393072207
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393072204
  • Product Dimensions: 12.3 x 1.1 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,132,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Roberto Perez-Franco on June 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
[Review published in MIT's The Tech] - 'Civil War Sketchbook brings us a splendid collection of original sketches from the front lines of the battlefield'

Two days after the charter incorporating MIT was signed in April 1861, Confederate forces attacked a military installation in South Carolina. It was the first in a series of battles that would last four bloody years and decide the fate of a nation. Shiloh, Antietam, Vicksburg, Bull Run and Gettysburg are now the stuff of history, names that to this day evoke deep wounds -- physical, psychological, moral -- in the very fabric of America, many of which are still open. But there was a time when citizens on all sides of the war followed these names for breaking news, which often took the form of written and graphical reports in printed newspapers.

Today, it is almost impossible to imagine the difficulties that the journalists and graphical reporters back then had to overcome to bring the citizenry fresh news from the frontlines of the Civil War. There was a time when the shock and awe of war was not broadcast in real time to the world, and when being embedded with the troops meant actually standing in the line of fire. Capturing battle in an image required more than the click of a button, and sending that image back to the editors took more than an attachment in an email.

As a tribute to the courageous and talented artists that risked their lives to capture these images in charcoal and watercolor, Harry Katz and Vincent Virga assembled the Civil War Sketch Book: Drawings from the Battlefront.
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A super-fascinating peek into the day-to-day doings of the Civil War. It is arranged in chronological order starting just before the attack on Ft. Sumter, so you get to see roughly what newspaper readers of the day saw also. The authors give lots of background on who the reporters were, their adventures, and the politics behind it all.
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I must admit, I was skeptical about purchasing this book for $3.75 (!!) when the list price was $50... but I was very pleasantly surprised. The quality of the paper and binding is very good, the image reproduction is very high quality and the textual content is outstanding. I bought this mainly for eye-candy, but ended up learning a thing or two while reading it.

My ONLY gripe is not with the book, but with the way it was packaged for shipment. The book was not properly secured, and as a result, it shifted during transport, causing one corner to be very slightly bent. Most people would never even notice such minor damage, but I tend to be meticulous in the care and preservation of my books, so I was a little miffed that it did not arrive in pristine condition. Still, for the price, I would have bought this book even with the miniscule damage to one corner... so I quickly got over it.

At the time of this writing, I see the price has gone up to $5.47, but even at the new price, this book is an amazing bargain for anyone interested in the Civil War, etchings, the history of journalism, war correspondence, American history or fine art.
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By mp on July 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just received this book, so I have yet to read it from cover to cover. From what I have viewed so far, it is a beautiful book! Wonderful large images in color. I will use this book in my classroom, as well as read it myself. No pages stuck together or anything like that, as others have said. My only complaint is the chunk that was taken out of the dust jacket. For only $5, I won't return it.
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This book has a lot going for it. Size: an art book should be of large size like this making it easy to see the reproductions. Don't even think of trying to buy this for a Kindle or Nook. Quality printing, paper, and binding--This is a well made book with good heavy paper and a strong binding. Price--OK the original cover price is kind of high BUT take a quick look at the current Amazon price. It is a bargain I promise. Quality authors--Harry Katz is former head curator at the Library of Congress and Vincent Virga has authored several impressive works himself.

In an era before every pre-teen with a cell phone could snap photos newspapers employed men known as "Special Artists" to help bring the action home to readers. Papers such as Frank Leslie's Illustrated News and Harper's Weekly would employ artists such as Frank Vizitelly, Edwin Forbes, Winslow Homer, Thomas Nast, Arthur Lumley and many others to bring the sights of war to their readers. For those who expected this to be a quick and easy war the scenes produced by the Specials proved beyond a doubt that there was going to be a large amount of blood spilled before all was said and done.

Many times you will find these prints having been removed from the newspapers available for sale in antique shops and flea markets. What separates this book however is that in the majority of instances you are seeing reproduction of the original work and not the newspaper. Included you will find works from the more famous battles such as Antietam and Gettysburg but also lesser known fights such as Fair Oaks.

For those interested in the portrayal of blacks whether enslaved, newly emancipated, or free there are works here to amaze you.
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