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Passing in Review

We are often so consumed with the results of what a Civil War photographer created that the person behind the camera’s lens is ignored. These individuals who captured the war on glass, metal and paper numbered among a small fraternity, noted veteran photographer Andrew J. Russell.

“Men not afraid of exposure and who could laugh at fatigue and starvation, could face danger in odd shapes, and were at all times ready to march, often between the two armies.” This, he added, was “the willing and indefatigable artist at his post of danger and adventure.”

Historian Ron Field pays tribute to these stalwart image-makers in his latest book, Silent Witness: The Civil War Through Photography and Its Photographers. In this handsome, first-rate volume, Field examines the war through battlefield images and portraits of famous and infamous faces, and likenesses of ordinary folk who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances. The narrative focuses on the photographers—who they were, what they did, and how they did it.

Field, a Senior Editor with Military Images since 2015 and a prolific author of numerous military-themed volumes, enjoys international recognition as an authority on U.S. military history. I have had the honor to work with him for several years, and have made a small contribution to this book. His depth of knowledge and experience, and how generously he shares it amazes me. He brings the same qualities to Silent Witness.

This latest offering by Field would provide an invaluable addition to any library dedicated to the history of photography or Civil War images.

Silent Witness: The Civil War Through Photography and Its PhotographersBy Ron FieldHardcover, 328 pagesOsprey Publishing$35.00

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