KILLING GROUND: Photographs of the Civil War and the Changing American Landscape

John Huddleston, Author
John Huddleston, Author . Johns Hopkins $35 (200p) ISBN 978-0-8018-6773-6
Reviewed on: 06/02/2003
Release date: 01/01/2003
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Of all the books this season that can be related to the 140th anniversary of Gettysburg this July, this may be the most immediate and provocative. It pairs 86 b&w photos of Gettysburg and many other Civil War sites, some taken just after fighting ended, with 77 color photos of the same sites taken (often on the same day of the year and at the same time of day) over the last few years, by photographer Huddleston. After growing up on the U.S. Army base at Fort Bragg, N.C., Huddleston went on to Yale, got an M.F.A. at San Francisco State, and now shows internationally and teaches at Middlebury College in Vermont. Most often his photos here show how agrarian battlefields have been silently incorporated into creeping suburbs: the battlefield near Ruff's Mill in Smyrna, Ga., is now overlooked by a generic strip mall featuring a dry cleaner, while the position of the Union Right, First Line, near Fort Sanders in Knoxville, Tenn., is now a parking lot crisscrossed with chain-link and concrete parking barriers. The battlefield at Wilson's Farm in Pleasant Hill, La., now holds hulking, rusting storage tanks. Without a trace of didacticism, Huddleston's photos, especially presented in juxtaposition with the past's open spaces, brilliantly testify to the ways in which history is literally forgotten, ignored or paved over. They are also beautiful. (June)

FYI:A complementary text on U.S. development and its relation to the Civil War is Penn State scholar Jim Weeks's Gettysburg: Memory, Market, and an American Shrine (Princeton, $29.95 288p ISBN 0-691-10271-6; June)

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