The New Picture Books


He could have, too, because Devol was the head-butting champion of the lower Mississippi. When a gambling victim gave him trouble, Devol would lower his head and rush at the man, aiming to hit him between the eyes. Doctors told Devol that his skull was an inch thick over the forehead and opponents who hit it barefisted reported that it felt “like a cannon ball.”

Mathew Brady : Historian with a Camera, by James D. Horan (Crown: $7.50), presents a number of interesting Brady pictures that have not been published before, along with many that have had far better reproduction elsewhere and some that are too poor to deserve reproduction anywhere. Messy layout combines with the poor printing to obscure the greatness of Brady’s photographic achievement.

Buffalo Bill and the Wild West , by Henry B. Sell and Victor Weybright (Oxford: $6.95), is a spirited story of the Indian scout who lent himself so well to the arts of promotion that he ended up as the incarnation of the West. The authors, one of whom—Sell—is a kinsman of the game old showman, have written a splendid text which could well stand independently from the nostalgic pictures.

Pictorial History of American Presidents , by John and Alice Durant (Barnes: $10), is a workmanlike assembly of pictures and text which ought to find a good market in an election year.

Tin Lizzie : The Story of the Fabulous Model T Ford , by Philip Van Doren Stern (Simon & Schuster: $3.98), is an affectionate history of the little car that changed the whole pattern of American life.

Civil War in Pictures , by Fletcher Pratt (Holt: $10), is made up of drawings from Harper’s Weekly and other illustrated papers of the period. This is how the northern public actually saw the war, for photographs were not reproduced at the time. Fortunately for the eyes of their readers, the weeklies were able to reproduce the original drawings, instead of printed copies, and to give them greater size as well as better printing than they get today.

The American Wars , by Roy Meredith (World: $10), is a record of battle art from the French and Indian Wars to Korea. Even the Revolution had such distinguished artists in uniform as Colonel John Trumbull [who painted the head of Washington on the cover of this issue] and James and Charles Willson Peale. By World War I the Army had a staff of artists under the Corps of Engineers and by World War II combat artists were sketching under fire in every theater. This record of combat art would be far more impressive if it were reproduced in its original color and more impressive still if it did not have to stand comparison with the work of the war photographers. Perhaps the bright, theatrical brush of the painter suited the formalized actions of another age, but the grim, relentless eye of the black-and-white camera seems to make the truest record of modern war.

Oliver Jensen