Preview: Hopkins, “Robert E. Lee in War and Peace”

28 10 2013

Robert_LeeStaying with the picture-book theme started with the Smithsonian Collection book we have Robert E. Lee in War and Peace: The Photographic History of a Confederate and American Icon, by Donald A. Hopkins. In one volume (slim, but oversize and on good quality, glossy paper) Hopkins brings together all of the known photographs of the Marble Man. This book is cool in a Garry Adelman/Bill Frassanito photo geek way. By that I mean the very interesting, how did the images come about, how were they used, re-used, and abused kind of way, as opposed to the “Hey, I found a 100 ton rock that is AMAZINGLY still sitting in the same spot it was in 150 years ago in this Gardner photo” kind of way. You’ll likely learn more about the photographic process than you intended while grazing (yes, grazing) over these photos, and also a good bit about Lee and how he’s remembered. An endorsement from Center for Civil War Photography co-founder Bob Zeller lends instant gravitas.

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8 responses

28 10 2013
Don Hopkins

Thanks very much. Such a positive review by one so well known for Civil War scholarship is very meaningful. The book has already generated a great deal of interest in Lee photos and most importantly, as I had hoped, generated some skepticism and contrasting opinions as all such work should do.

28 10 2013
Bob Huddleston

How does this compare with David J. Eicher, _Robert E. Lee: A Life Portrait_ (Dallas, 1997)?

28 10 2013
Harry Smeltzer

Hi Bob,

I don’t own Eicher’s book, though I’ve seen it around. IIRC it tried to be both a biography of Lee and a collection of images. I’ve read criticisms that some known photos were missing, and some known ones were actually counted twice in Eicher’s book. Hopkins here focuses his attention on the photos and photographers and how the photos were used. Much more similar to what you would see in some of the works of the folks I mentioned – lots of forensics. I haven’t heard yet of the “controversies” to which Mr. Hopkins alluded above. Maybe we’ll get some comments here…

5 11 2013
Chris Evans

Thanks for the info on the differences. I really enjoyed Meredith’s and Eicher’s books. This one looks great too.

Now if one will be done on Grant (Eicher was suppose too).


29 10 2013
Theodore. P. Savas

Hi Bob. Harry provides a pretty good explanation of the differences. Don’s work is more like Roy Merideth’s 60-year old effort, updated and much deeper and more “forensic” as Harry suggests. It is really unlike anything else ever produced. (I know, I am the publisher, but I would not have published it had this not been true.) Take care. tps

28 10 2013
Harry Smeltzer

I was referring to the skepticism you described regarding your book. I didn’t think you were talking about the Eicher book at all. Poor choice of the word “controversy” on mg part, Don.

28 10 2013
Garry Adelman

Looking forward to checking it out, Harry and Don! Harry, thanks for the kind words! Garry

29 10 2013
Don Hopkins

Garry: If my effort even comes close to meeting the standards you have set for each of your numerous works I will be very gratified. Thanks, Don

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