Mathew Brady Portraits of a Nation


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Bloomsbury USA


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1620402033

9781620402030

288 Pages

$28.00

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In the 1840s and 1850s, "Brady of Broadway" was one of the most successful and acclaimed Manhattan portrait galleries. Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Dolley Madison, Henry James as a boy with his father, Horace Greeley, Edgar Allan Poe, the Prince of Wales, and Jenny Lind were among the dignitaries photographed in Mathew Brady's studio. But it was during the Civil War that he became the founding father of what is now called photojournalism and his photography became an enduring part of American history.

The Civil War was the first war in history to leave a detailed photographic record, and Mathew Brady was the war's chief visual historian. Previously, the general public had never seen in such detail the bloody particulars of war--the strewn bodies of the dead, the bloated carcasses of horses, the splintered remains of trees and fortifications, the chaos and suffering on the battlefield. Brady knew better than anyone of his era the dual power of the camera to record and to excite, to stop a moment in time and to draw the viewer vividly into that moment.

Few books about Brady have gone beyond being collections of the photographs attributed to him, accompanied by a biographical sketch. MATHEW BRADY will be the biography of an American legend—a businessman, an accomplished and innovative technician, a suave promoter, a celebrated portrait artist, and, perhaps most important, a historian who chronicled America during its finest and gravest moments of the 19th century.

REVIEWS

Praise for Mathew Brady

"This book elegantly shows that Brady did not just make photographs; he made photography—as cause, as business, as archive, and as part of the nineteenth-century American mind."—Gary Wills, author of Lincoln At Gettysburg

"Few major figures of nineteenth-century America shed so much light on his age but allowed so little focus on himself as photographer extraordinaire Mathew Brady. Now Robert Wilson has provided a sumptuous, full-scale biography of the legendary Brady, casting an insightful eye on one of the Civil War era's greatest artists, entrepreneurs, and chroniclers. Wilson has provided words fully worthy of the pictures."—Harold Holzer, Roger Hertog Fellow at the New York Historical Society

"Robert Wilson's beautifully crafted biography gives Mathew Brady his long-awaited due. Wilson enables the reader to see past the extraordinary legacy of Brady's Civil War photographs to the great man himself—his passion, his struggles, and ultimately tragic end."—Amanda Foreman, author of A World On Fire

"Mathew Brady was both nineteenth-century America's premiere celebrity portraitist and its great impresario of Civil War photography. Robert Wilson has taken all there is to know about this enigmatic genius and shaped a compelling double narrative that illuminates the early years of photography in America and a crucial period in the formation of the country's national identity."—Andy Grundberg, professor and dean at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington D.C.

"Robert Wilson gives us a vivid portrait not just of a man, but of an era, with all its bright highlights and dark shadows. Reading this book is like stepping back in time to tour Brady's famous gallery of soldiers, statesmen, royalty, and rogues—and learn the remarkable stories behind the photographs."—Adam Goodheart, author of 1861: The Civil War Awakening

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

Robert Wilson is the author of The Explorer King, a biography of Clarence King, the Indiana Jones of the 19th century. He is editor of The American Scholar, a former editor of Preservation, the founding literary editor of Civilization (all three of which won National Magazine Awards during his tenure), a former book editor and columnist for USA Today, and a former editor at The Washington Post Book World. His essays, reviews, and fiction have appeared in numerous publications, including The American Scholar, American Short Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly,The New Republic, Smithsonian, The Washington

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


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  • Robert Wilson is the author of The Explorer King, a biography of Clarence King, the Indiana Jones of the 19th century. He is editor of The American Scholar, a former editor of Preservation, the founding literary editor of Civilization (all three of which won National Magazine Awards during his tenure), a former book editor and columnist for USA Today, and a former editor at The Washington Post Book World. His essays, reviews, and fiction have appeared in numerous publications, including The American Scholar, American Short Fiction, The Atlantic Monthly,The New Republic, Smithsonian, The Washington Post Magazine, and The Wilson Quarterly and on the op-ed, opinion, and book-review pages of The Boston Globe, The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post. He is the editor of A Certain Somewhere: Writers on the Places They Remember, a collection of essays from Preservation magazine published by Random House in 2002.
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