A few weeks back I received an email from a publisher that asked me if I would review a book they were putting out that had photos of Madison in it. I said sure, but that I would be honest and not give the book a rave review just because it was free. So the book did indeed arrive.
The publisher has a whole slew of “Historic Photos” books that they market. If you live in a relatively large city you can probably find it in the series.
Being a history junkie, I love these types of coffee table books.
First, some minor nits. This book was a little short on text for my personal taste, but not everyone cares that much about the story behind the story. The book is of good quality, although I would have liked for them to use a little better paper for the photos. I felt as though I had to look a little too hard at the photos to get the details, and think that a better quality paper might have helped that. I would have liked a little more detail on the photo itself (who took it, what type of camera, etc.) but this book I think is more for a general overview of the topic, not a deep dive into photographic history.
Now the plusses – the content of the photos was very interesting indeed. It really is neat to see a place where you may have been the day before, and what it looked like one hundred years ago.
I am tempted to go to some of these places and take an identical photo and side by side them, sort of like handshaking with someone from one hundred years past.
Having already been pretty well read about Madison I didn’t learn too much, but I certainly did like looking at a few photos I had never seen before. It is hard to imagine that where streets used to be, it was dirt – and that horses and carts were used on it.
All in all, I would give this book a 7 out of 10. I would recommend it to anyone interested in Madison, or your town if you can find it. A good Christmas present indeed, and a nice, easy read. I finished it in about three hours – but I like to look at old photos slowly and try to coax out the details.
One of the very best books on photography I have ever found is Double Take. This book is GIANT, and has a lot of text. It takes a very deep dive into the history of photography, and techniques used in the early 20th century. The author gets 70 photos taken by a photographer from Madison around the time of the ’20s through the ’50s, and retakes them all these years later from the same exact spot with the same exact framing. This book is simply incredible, and takes a very long time to look at. Some places are exactly the same, some places are gone, some places have an existing older building with new businesses in it. For the money, I would spend the $65 on Double Take before $39 on Historic Photos, but not everyone may get the same enjoyment out of Double Take. It is a very technical book, and there are some that just want to look at pictures and have a small caption explaining what they are, which Historic Photos does wonderfully.
Cross posted at LITGM.