The Blue and Gray in Black and White
A History of Civil War Photography
by Bob Zeller
October 2005, 248pp, 8 1/2x11
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-98243-0
$134, £100, 116€, A182

Zeller covers all the great Civil War photographers and features remarkable revelations about their work, with more than 150 illustrations, including previously unpublished images and all known Civil War battle action photos.

The first complete narrative history of Civil War photography, this work brings together the remarkable experiences of M.B. Brady, Alexander Gardner, George S. Cook, and other photographers, many of whom had careers stretching back more than two decades to the dawn of American photography in 1839. Step by step throughout the war, American photographers, North and South, advanced their craft to new heights, acting independently, but seemingly as if part of one great team, moved to act by a spirit in their feet. With their wet plate cameras, they produced many firsts, including the first combat action photographs, the first photo essays of news events as they happened, and the first photos deemed so controversial that they were censored by the federal government. Zeller also examines the impact of photography on average Americans.

The American Civil War was extensively photographed, not only to preserve history, but because the leading American photographers realized that they could make a profit by mass marketing the images. Complete with more than 150 illustrations, including previously unpublished Civil War images, as well as all known Civil War battle action photos, this work fills a huge gap in the history of America’s greatest conflict. It tells the stories of the men who created the images that students of history know so well, men whose personal legacies became confused by myths and misinformation, were shrouded in obscurity, or have simply not been documented—until now.


"Zeller, founder-president of The Center for Civil War Photography, authored The Civil War in Depth (1997, 2000), a two-volume collection of stereograms and narratives on Civil War photographic history. His current book provides a more comprehensive discussion of the conflict's photography and the work of major photographers (Matthew Brady, Alexander Gardner, George Cook, etc.), whose careers began with the advent of US photography. Using wet plate cameras, these pioneers produced many firsts, including the earliest combat action photographs, the initial photo essays of news events as they happened (created by embedded photographers), and controversial images that were censored by the federal government. Zeller's scholarly work (474 endnotes accompany 161 images) covers the entire war and considers photographers from both the Union and Confederacy; actions including Fort Sumter, Bull Run (rather than Manassas), Antietam, Petersburg, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Atlanta; and Andersonville prison. There are 145 images from the war and 16 others illustrating broadsides, ledgers, and postwar photographers and collections. Zeller also examines the impact of photography on average citizens. The images are rendered with amazing clarity, and the captions and narratives are persuasive and informative. Recommended. All levels."—Choice, September 1, 2006

"Because of its convergence with advances in photographic technology, the Civil War was the first major conflict to be extensively documented by American photographers. In this volume, Zeller tells the stories of the men who used wet plate cameras to produce these startling and controversial images. He also examines the impact of photography on average Americans of the time. The text is accompanied by more than 150 b&w photos."—Art Book News Annual, January 1, 2007

"[A]n excellent introduction to the subject of Civil War photography."—Winston-Salem Journal, 00/00/00

"Zeller, founder of the Center for Civil War photographs, presents a revealing and frequently engrossing survey that tracks the development of the medium in chronological order parallel to the unfolding of the war. Of course, this work features a fine collection of photographs, including many that have rarely been seen. But the strength of this book is the well-written text conveying the excitement and exhilaration photographers felt as they shared the grind of military camps with soldiers and witnessed the horrors of battle."—Booklist, January 1, 2006

"Finally a definitive study of Civil War photography and photographers. Expertly conceived, written, and illustrated."—Stephen W. Sears, Author of Gettysburg
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