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Camera Aloft
Edward Steichen in the Great War


Part of Cambridge Centennial of Flight

  • Author: Von Hardesty, National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC
  • Date Published: February 2016
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521820554

£ 70.99

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About the Authors
  • Edward Steichen (1879–1973) played a key role in the development of photography in the twentieth century. He is well known for his varied career as an artist, a celebrated photographer and a museum curator. However, Steichen is less known for his pivotal role in shaping America's first experiments in aerial photography as a tool for intelligence gathering in what may be called his 'lost years'. In Camera Aloft, Von Hardesty tells how Steichen volunteered in 1917 to serve in the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF). He rose rapidly in the ranks of the Air Service, emerging as Chief of Air Photography during the dramatic final offensives of the war. His photo sections were responsible for the rapid processing of aerial images gained through the daily and hazardous sorties over the front and in the enemy rear areas. What emerged in the eighteen months of his active service was a new template for modern aerial reconnaissance. The aerial camera, as with new weapons such as the machine gun, the tank and the airplane, profoundly transformed modern warfare.

    • The first scholarly reconstruction of Steichen's service in World War I
    • Utilizes rare and primary materials
    • Will be of interest to scholars of the history of photography, World War I, and the role and influence of aerial reconnaissance
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Dr Von Hardesty has written a thoughtful, elegant, and compelling account of an almost unknown chapter in the life of one of America's most famous twentieth-century artists. His treatment of Edward Steichen's service in World War I is full of surprises that will illuminate the work of art historians, military historians, and cultural historians. This is a pioneering work … It is a wonderfully appealing subject, deftly and smoothly realized by a master craftsman.' Michael Gorn, Research Associate, Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

    'You wouldn't think that there would still be untold stories of the first World War; but in Edward Steichen's pioneering of the dangerous art of wartime aerial photography, Von Hardesty has found one. No one is better suited to tell it than this veteran aviation historian. He superbly evokes the experience of being under fire when flying a fragile craft of wood, cloth and wire, while taking pictures at the same time.' Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914–1918

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521820554
    • dimensions: 236 x 159 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • contains: 36 b/w illus. 20 colour illus. 1 map
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Foreword: taking the camera aloft
    1. War and exile
    2. A new life in the military
    3. Over there
    4. The world of air observation
    5. Taking charge
    6. Over the front
    7. War and photography
    Appendix: life at the cutting edge: the photo sections.

  • Author

    Von Hardesty, National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC
    Von Hardesty, a former curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, has written widely on aerospace history, including a biography of Charles Lindbergh, numerous titles on Russian aeronautics, a history of the space race, and baseline research on aerial reconnaissance in World War I.

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