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Review of Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism

Eyes of the World: Robert Capa, Gerda Taro, and the Invention of Modern Photojournalism
by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos
High School    Holt    294 pp.
3/17    978-0-8050-9835-8    $22.99
e-book ed.  978-1-2501-0967-5    $10.99

This passionate, sprawling, multilayered biography begins like a Robert Capa photograph: right in the middle of the action. Readers are thrust into the D-Day landing, with all the terror, fatigue, bloodshed, and danger of that harrowing day as Capa photographs the Normandy invasion. The narrative then flashes back to Capa’s childhood and emigration from Hungary to Paris, his budding career as a photographer, and his meeting and falling in love with Gerda Taro. The two reinvent themselves as “photojournalists,” traveling to Spain to document the Spanish Civil War. Fiercely supporting the Loyalists in opposition to Franco, Capa and Taro make no effort to cover the war impartially, a point that Aronson and Budhos stress as they discuss the development of the new field of photojournalism. In two separate “Interludes” the authors also provide a tutorial on “reading” pictures: how a photographer’s positioning, shooting angle, and framing can make a statement and create a distinct point of view. And they go far beyond the telling, showcasing multiple photographs and graphics substantiating these conclusions. The carefully selected and positioned photographs in each chapter create parallel narratives to the biography, adding depth to the fervor of Taro and Capa’s intense relationship, political beliefs, and art. An opening note sends readers to a website where ancillary material, such as a timeline and a discussion of the political parties in Spain, can be found. Extensive back matter covers topics as varied as the controversy over Capa’s Falling Soldier photograph; the parallels to the contemporary war in Syria; biographical notes of well-known individuals, from Langston Hughes to Benito Mussolini, involved in the Spanish Civil War; thorough source notes; an extensive bibliography; and an index.

From the May/June 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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About Betty Carter

Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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