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Timothy O'Sullivan: America's Forgotten Photographer

by James David Horan

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Timothy H. O'Sullivan was one of America's great photographers as the more than 400 superb examples of his art reproduced here testify. Yet, for over three-quarters of a century, the brilliant Civil War and frontier photographer has been forgotten by all but a handful of scholars and specialists. Until recently, many of O'Sullivan's finest photographs of the Civil War have been mistakenly attributed to Mathew Brady, his friend and mentor. Novelist and historian James D. Horan here set the record straight, and through more than a decade of painstaking research, reconstructed the obscure but remarkable life of a man of great talent and courage. O'Sullivan's works carried him through the major battles of the Civil War; he and his mule-drawn darkroom were under fire from Second Manassas to Appomattox. Accompanying U.S. geographical expeditions for almost a decade following the war, he lugged his cumbersome 20 x 24 camera across the vast, dangerous, and unexplored American West to make the first photographs of natural wonders like the Great Salt Lake, the Mojave Desert, Shoshone Falls, the Canyon de Chelly, and the Grand Canyon. He was along as official photographer when the Selfridge Expedition cut its way through the dense jungles of the isthmus of Panama to survey a canal route. The momentous events he lived through and the places he visited, enduring great hardships, are immortalized here in the finest examples of his wet-plate art. Timothy O'Sullican: America's Forgotten Photographer is a significant contribution to the pictorial, Civil War and Western Frontier history of America. --jacket.… (more)
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Suggested for the student of photography. While not as well known as Matthew Brady, O'Sullivan was every bit his equal. In addition to a fine biography of this early American photographer, his photographs of the Civil War are a treasure trove for historians. ( )
  PghDragonMan | Jul 23, 2008 |
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Timothy H. O'Sullivan was one of America's great photographers as the more than 400 superb examples of his art reproduced here testify. Yet, for over three-quarters of a century, the brilliant Civil War and frontier photographer has been forgotten by all but a handful of scholars and specialists. Until recently, many of O'Sullivan's finest photographs of the Civil War have been mistakenly attributed to Mathew Brady, his friend and mentor. Novelist and historian James D. Horan here set the record straight, and through more than a decade of painstaking research, reconstructed the obscure but remarkable life of a man of great talent and courage. O'Sullivan's works carried him through the major battles of the Civil War; he and his mule-drawn darkroom were under fire from Second Manassas to Appomattox. Accompanying U.S. geographical expeditions for almost a decade following the war, he lugged his cumbersome 20 x 24 camera across the vast, dangerous, and unexplored American West to make the first photographs of natural wonders like the Great Salt Lake, the Mojave Desert, Shoshone Falls, the Canyon de Chelly, and the Grand Canyon. He was along as official photographer when the Selfridge Expedition cut its way through the dense jungles of the isthmus of Panama to survey a canal route. The momentous events he lived through and the places he visited, enduring great hardships, are immortalized here in the finest examples of his wet-plate art. Timothy O'Sullican: America's Forgotten Photographer is a significant contribution to the pictorial, Civil War and Western Frontier history of America. --jacket.

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