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Police Pictures Hardcover – November 1, 1997

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


This modest catalogue, which accompanies an exhibition organized by Sandra S. Phillips, packs a wallop bigger than its size.... Why show mug shots in a museum, or in a book intended for an art audience? The answer may lie in the need to explain contemporary photographers' fascination with the subjects of surveillance, categorization and control. -- The New York Times Book Review, Andy Grundberg

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 131 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; First Edition ~1st Printing edition (November 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811819841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811819848
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.6 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,899,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on August 30, 1998
Format: Hardcover
From Andersonville of the American Civil War to Tuol Sleng of Pol Pot, police have been photographing suspects, convicts, crime scenes, and prisons to collect evidence, record history, and improve techniques to fight crimes and squelch political opposition. This book tries to cover it all: from Che Guevara's fingerprints to James Earl Ray's wanted posters, from the unclaimed bodies of the Communards to the sad souls of Pol Pot's Year Zero campaign, and from murder scenes and execution of murderers.
For good and for evil, photography has recorded who we were and who we are. Photography, as a tool, has been used to support Social Darwinism and eugenics. There are photos of "typical criminal" types as well as a set used to prove that the different races of man are in fact different species. Photography has also been used to solve crimes and put dangerous criminals in jail. All these uses and more are covered in the fine book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading a glowing review of this book in Salon Online, I rushed to Amazon to order it. My initial disappointment was the printed hardcover. I attempt to keep my first editions in immpeccable shape, and the lack of a dust jacket puts me off. There is already some wear to the front and back cover, simply from spending a few days on my coffee table. As to the content of the book itself, I found the over-intellectualized text and rather cold presentation off-putting as well. Too be fair, the book is an exhibition catalog, so perhaps the collection of photographs therein manages to find some life in a gallery setting.
A far superior volume, full of life and contradiction is "Death Scenes: A Homicide Detectives Scrapbook" from Feral House. The text in this gritty and strangely beautiful book of photographs is by Katherine Dunn, author of the brilliant novel "Geek Love". The pictures in "Death Scenes" are not at all for the squeamis! h, but have a truth to them that "Police Pictures" lacks. It's true that there are a few plates in "Police Pictures" that are quite wonderful, most of them by WeeGee, the famed photo-journalist. One would be far better served by buying a volume of his work, and letting this one pass.
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