Issue No. 111
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This year marks the 150th anniversary of the end of America’s Civil War. While the stark brutality of the deadliest conflict in U.S. history was captured by photographic luminaries such as Matthew Brady and Alexander Gardner, some of the most telling images were made by a man whose principal instrument was not a camera, but rather, the tools of a doctor: surgeon Reed B. Bontecou. A cross section of his documentation of wounded warriors can be found in Shooting Soldiers: Civil War Medical Photography (Burns Archive Press, 2011), culled from the Burns Archive in New York, the world’s largest private collection of early medical photography and historic photographs.
On the wet grass of the back yard my father and mother have spread quilts. We all lie there, my mother, my father…and I too am lying there. First we were sitting up, then one of us lay down, and then we all lay down, on our stomachs, or on our sides, or on our backs, and they have kept on talking. They are not talking much, and the talk is quiet, of nothing in particular, of nothing at all. The stars are wide and alive, they seem each like a smile of great sweetness, and they seem very near. –James Agee, Knoxville: Summer, 1915