Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Great (but overpriced) introduction
on September 30, 2015
This is by far the best introductory text on visual culture I have personally come across. I strongly disagree with some previous reviewers that say the writing is "pompous" or "needlessly complex"; I am by no means an expert on the subject and I found the writing to be extremely comprehensive and even generous when it comes to explanations. The authors seem to make a great effort to be understood and a lot of really complex concepts are presented in a surprisingly and refreshing clear manner. I also disagree with a previous review that claimed that technical terms are frequently unexplained (I, in fact, think quite the opposite). Maybe the complaints about it being "unnecessarily long" could be somewhat justified if you consider that illustrating the concepts through concrete examples is "unnecessary". I think that the examples (although I admit I sometimes skimmed through them) present the rich context of visual culture and even make the text quite pleasant and colorful. That, in my opinion, is really something to be thankful for when it comes to "academic" texts.
That said, I have some complaints about the quality-price ratio of the actual materiality of the book itself. I initially borrowed the first edition from my university library (where they gave it a hardcover treatment for durability) and read it almost completely through. As I already said, I thought it was great (and wanted to read the new sections added on the second edition) so I decided to buy it regardless of the surprisingly high $80 price tag. I was quite disappointed when it arrived. The paper is not too great, the typography is not the best for reading and the cover is made from a flimsy and thin "plastified" paper (I also think the design of the cover itself is awful -5 minute random cut and paste-, but you can see that from the product photo and I guess its irrelevant). Besides this, I find the format too big (it is exactly A4!). Thus, the book ends up being one of those "squiggly" books that feel like a wet fish when you have it in your hands. I admit this is not so serious, but for $80 bucks I was expecting something better made...
In conclusion: content-wise the book is top notch; materially-wise it leaves a lot to be desired. It is extremely useful and it is no doubt a work of great scholarship. However, its not one of those books you enjoy having in your hands or in your bookshelf (and it will undoubtedly hurt your wallet).