Loren's Reviews > Cemeteries

Cemeteries by Keith Eggener
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Oct 12, 12

bookshelves: cemetery-books
Read from August 19 to September 17, 2012

I'm not sure why this book is so expensive. Yes, it's full of black and white photographs, but really, $75? It's not worth that.

Assembled from the Library of Congress's photo archives, Cemeteries is a "visual sourcebook" of images of American graveyards taken by families, news photographers, stereograms, advertisers, and government agencies. Sections focus on gates, grave markers, mausoleums, and other details of graveyards -- which is what I bought the book for and it's most useful attribute.

Unfortunately, the author assembling the photos got lazy. Rather than show a variety of African Americans working in cemeteries across the country, he includes a series of photos of the same people in the same cemetery. I would've found comparison and contrast more interesting than depth, especially since the depth is at odds from the way the rest of the book is put together. The same cemeteries and photographers do keep coming up over and over more than is truly necessary in other sections, but "Comings and Goings in the Silent City" is the most repetitive. It's disappointing.

If you are a cemetery fanatic, you might need to have this book (if you can get it discounted on Amazon). The historical overview in the first section is particularly useful. The photos throughout lean toward documentary rather than art, but if you bring a fair amount of knowledge to the book, it will reward you, even as it frustrates you. It could have been really spectacular. Instead, it seems rushed.
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