“THE BEST OF THE MILLENNIUM PHOTOBOOKS BY QUITE SOME DISTANCE”
BERNARD, Bruce. Century. (London: Phaidon, 1999). Extremely thick octavo, original laminated paper-covered boards, original cardboard carrying case. $350.
First edition, with well over a thousand photographs—almost 900 in black-and-white and about 200 in color—of “the most comprehensive visual account yet of the past century” (Kirkus).
Aptly subtitled “One Hundred Years of Human Progress, Regression, Suffering and Hope,” this impressive volume chronicles the 20th century in over a thousand pages of photographs. The cast of characters includes such predictable players as monarchs, dictators, presidents and popes; but authors, artists and entertainers also appear, as do ordinary people—from couples enduring the fad of “marathon dancing” to the “Amerasian” children of American soldiers in Vietnam—sometimes enjoying life, at other times suffering heartbreaking anguish. Occasionally, striking juxtapositions speak more loudly than do the individual images could by themselves: for example, a 1952 pairing of a supposed UFO sighting and the all-too-real light and power of the first hydrogen bomb explosion at Einwetok Atoll; in 1969, an emaciated Biafran girl opposite Irving Penn’s portrait, “Nubile Young Beauty of Diamaré, Cameroon”; or, in 1991, an exultant woman crashing the barricade at a parade for returning Gulf War veterans contrasted with a Kurdish woman running in terror from an Iraqi helicopter. “As a former picture editor of the Sunday Times Magazine and other publications, Bernard had a vast experience of looking at photographs, but this by itself was not enough; he also had a love of photography and an innate feel for it… Bernard’s Century is a fine reflection of a period that was as amazing and as interesting as any in history; and it is the best of the millennium photobooks by quite some distance” (Parr & Badger II:229).
Original cardboard carrying case with expert repair. A fine copy.