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Margaret Bourke White Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 1, 1999
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An inspiring biography of one of the most successful photojournalists of the 20th century, this life of Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971) is exactly the type of book teachers and parents of adolescent girls are looking for. It would be a mistake to treat this as a book for girls only, however, when so many great men--Bourke-White's father, her second husband, several darkroom technicians, and even General Jimmy Doolittle, commander of the 12th Air Force in World War II--figure prominently in it as mentors, teachers, colleagues, and friends. Author Susan Goldman Rubin gracefully deals with sensitive material such as the photographer's shame at discovering that her father was Jewish. And she does a remarkable job of choosing appropriate pictures. As the chief photographer for Life magazine, Bourke-White shot many hugely important but often harsh subjects. Rubin deftly edits these images so that famous photos like the haunting Living Dead of Buchenwald, April, 1945 are here, but not such profoundly disturbing ones as Bourke-White's shot of bony corpses stacked for burning. The author underscores the photographer's extraordinary self-confidence as a young woman of huge ambitions and--beginning with Bourke-White's initial flirtation with the soft-focus style of Edward Steichen--delineates the growing power and clarity of her mature documentary style. Bourke-White's life-long interest in science--she kept jars of multilegged fauna on her office bookshelves at Life--is fascinating, and the stories of her wartime adventures--in marooned life rafts, low-flying reconnaissance planes, and torpedoed ships--are frighteningly vivid.
The photographs themselves are ultimately given pride of place, in large duotone reproductions that do them ample justice. This book would be right for anyone over 10, and older readers might go on to Sean Callahan's Margaret Bourke-White: Photographer, which is more of a traditional monograph and includes those images that tell truths so painful that Bourke-White herself had great difficulty sorting their negatives. --Peggy Moorman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Rubin (Frank Lloyd Wright) centers her articulate, accessible portrait of this renowned photojournalist on 56 of Bourke-White's astounding duotone photographs. The cover image, one of the few here not shot by Bourke-White, shows her perched atop a steel gargoyle protruding from the 61st story of the brand-new Chrysler Building, photographing the New York City skyline; it speaks volumes about her grit and determination to go to any length to get the perfect shot. In a narrative carefully targeted to her audience, Rubin concisely charts the evolution of the intrepid photographer's work through the architectural, industrial, advertising and reportorial phases of her career. The author paints a portrait of a strong woman full of fascinating contradictions: Bourke-White benefited from the strength of her mother but also inherited from her a transient anti-Semitism; much later, after her father's death, she learned that he was Jewish, but hid the fact from her friends and even omitted it from her autobiography. A generous amount of quotes and an extensive bibliography attests to Rubin's assiduous research. The photographer's artistry encapsulates many of the most momentous events of the century. Bourke-White chronicled the beginning of the American industrial revolution, traveled overseas during WWII on assignment from both Life magazine and the U.S. Army Air Force, and covered the Korean War; her portraits of Churchill, Stalin and Patton, which graced the cover of Life, put faces to a distant war. She makes the horror of Germany's Buchenwald concentration camp, India's 1947 Great Migration and South African apartheid shockingly real. Rubin's understated, seemingly effortless narrative will cause readers to sit up and notice that many of the images they take for granted today had their roots in the work of this daring pioneer of the 20th century. Ages 10-13. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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As a child's book I rate it 4 to 5 stars. Great photo selection and actually quite a lot of interesting information on Ms. Bourke-White's life. As an adult book maybe one star (and that one for the good selection of photos).