Shots of War: 150 Years of Dramatic Photography from the Battlefield

Paul Brewer, Carlton, $39.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-84732-365-1
Brewer (The Civil War State-by-State) assembles some fascinating curiosities, such as Sir Hiram Maxim dressed in high hat and formal coat, posed with his machine gun around spent cartridges. But any conflict less significant than World Wars I and II are most often relegated to a single page, and the images selected are frequently less-than-telling, such as the Prussian army with their tents during the Schleswig-Holstein War of 1864. Perhaps predictably, the book's Vietnam section includes the three most iconic photos of the era—and perhaps of all time: the terrified Kim Phuuc running naked down a road; General Van Loan executing a North Vietnamese man; and Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling at the body of a dead Kent State student. Unfortunately Brewer, a researcher who specializes in military photography, offers little context and his captions are often dull. Identifying Van Loan's victim, a man who led a Viet Cong death squad targeting South Vietnamese National Police officers and their families, would have been edifying. While the military buff will find plenty of evocative images, the stories behind them will require frequent visits to the reference shelf. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 02/14/2011
Release date: 10/01/2010
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