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BOOK REVIEWS187 eral's attendance at Lincoln's last cabinet meeting. But overshadowing such matters is the author's accomplishment in cleansing Civil War photographs of a century of encrusted error and making them truly valuable to students of history. One of the more startling examples of this concerns that familiar photograph of Union troops in trench, officers standing above, and traditionally identified as a Brady picture ofthesiege of Petersburg. Thanks to Frassanito, readers who have doubtless seen this often-reproduced photograph learn that it was taken by another man near Fredericksburg in May 1863. The publishers refer to this book as completing a trilogy. Nevertheless beneficiaries of Frassanito's work should hope that he will continue his valuable investigations into the photography of the Civil War. Frank L. Byrne Kent State University The End of an Era: Volume Six of the Image of War, 1861-1865. Edited by William C. Davis. Senior Consulting Editor, Bell I. Wiley. (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, 1984. Pp. 496. $39.95.) The End of an Era is the sixth and final volume of William C. Davis's photographic history of the Civil War. It contains an index to all six volumes and is, for that and many other reasons, a highly desirable addition to any Civil War library. The chief attractions, as in the previous volumes, are the 650 (or so) old photographs, nicely reproduced and captioned. Throughout the series, the text has been well above average for picture books. While the textual matter is definitely worthwhile in this volume as well, it rates below the text in the previous volumes—with two exceptions. Russell F. Weighley's thoughtful essay on "The Modern Army" offers useful and stimulating considerations of what made the Civil War modern, transcending the old-fashioned and rather simple-minded emphasis on types of military hardware first employed in the conflict. It is packed with statistics and pungent comparisons with modern mobilization rates, Napoleon 's logistics, and failures of British supply systems in the Crimea. And Emory Thomas gives a memorable, concise history of Civil War Richmond. Unhappily, the rest of the essays tend more to the perfunctory, and, most unhappily of all, Davis's concluding essay emphasizes impressionistic color and sensational appeal at the expense of telling detail. He dwells at length on the course of John Wilkes Booth's bullet through Abraham Lincoln's head, describing the functions paralyzed at each point in the brain. Yet he says only that "hundreds of thousands lay buried" on the battlefields or campaign trails, that "even more" died from accidents or disease, and that "tens of thousands" died in prisons. More precise figures—or, better yet, percentages—would have been far more effec- 188CIVIL WAR HISTORY tive and useful. As the chief editor, he should not have been the one to allow the information in his essay to overlap a bit with that in the preceding essay. The captions are so written (again in keeping with previous practice in the series) as to form a sort of narrative on their own, with the material in one caption sometimes completing the thought or sentence in the preceding caption. This practice puts a premium on readability but occasionally sacrifices close comment on the details of an individual photograph . The startling picture of the jury that would have tried Jefferson Davis for treason, for example, fails to mention that over half the men were black (a fact noted and celebrated in contemporary captions of the photograph) . I have reviewed all the volumes of this series and have saved my more negative comments for this final review. By now, buyers are surely committed to the whole series, and nothing said in a review will (if it ever would) prevent purchase. These books merit broad distribution. Davis has achieved much in producing the books, and the complaints here should be weighed against the praise in the other five reviews. From the extremely rare picture of a political campaign bandwagon in Reconstruction Louisiana to the haunting photographs of leatheraproned workmen with wrenches and mauls outside Washington's government repair shops, The End of an Era presents the reader with interesting and unusual photographs. All six...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 187-188
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-04
Open Access
No
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