River of Shadows: Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West

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Viking, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 305 pages
56 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
I read the introduction and most of the footnotes. - Goodreads
I looked at all the pictures and captions. - Goodreads

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

User Review  - Lori - Goodreads

The fact that it took me probably a year to finish this book is not an indication of my enjoyment level of it. Although at the base this is a biography of Eadweard Muybridge, the man who basically ... Read full review

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

User Review  - jeff - Goodreads

Totally amazing book about a legitimately strange dude that ushered in the modern age. A dense read, yes, but stick with it and it rewards entirely. 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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