River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West

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Viking, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 305 pages
34 Reviews
The world as we know it today began in California in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. This extraordinary assertion is at the heart of Rebecca Solnit's brilliant new work of cultural history. Weaving together biography, history, and fascinating insights into art, technology, landscape, and philosophy, Solnit has created a boldly original portrait of America on the threshold of modernity.

During a period of feverish creativity that commenced in 1872, Eadweard Muybridge succeeded for the first time in capturing and reanimating high-speed motion on film-the crucial breakthrough that made movies possible. He also continued his series of breathtaking photographs of the monumental landscape of the American West, served as official photographer of the grueling war against the Modoc Indians, and, in a blaze of publicity, stood trial for the murder of his wife's lover. In Solnit's taut, compelling narrative, Muybridge's life becomes a lens for a larger story about the transformation of time and space in the nineteenth century. With dazzling erudition and a rare mastery of the interlocking histories of art, technology, politics, and commerce, Solnit shows how the peculiar freedoms and opportunities of post-Civil War California led directly to the two industries-Hollywood and Silicon Valley-that have most powerfully defined the contemporary world.

River of Shadowsis Solnit's most captivating book yet-wide- ranging in its allusions, daring in its connections, always surprising in its conclusions.

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She is a great writer. - Goodreads
Also cool if you're into the history of photography. - Goodreads
... great storytelling, great history. - Goodreads
The prose was like molasses, infused with lead. - Goodreads

Review: River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West

User Review  - Summer Brennan - Goodreads

Quite a good book. It began to lose me little at the 75% mark, but this was merely a little slow patch in the relationship, and I was glad to have pulled through to the end. The amount of research that went into this must have been truly exhaustive. Read full review

Review: River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West

User Review  - Diana Duncan - Goodreads

I was looking for a history of Muybridge's developments in photography and this did provide details of that. I did not find the parallels with the development of the railroad all that interesting and I found most of the text to be pretty dull. It was hard to finish this. Read full review

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About the author (2003)

Rebecca Solnit, author of six highly praised works of nonfiction, including Secret Exhibition, Savage Dreams, and Hollow City, contributes essays about visual art, public space, landscape, and environmental issues to national magazines and museum exhibition catalogs.

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