There is no way for any collection to do real justice to a photographer of Eisenstaedt's reach, but this book goes far, including not just the celebrity images but many others that give a keen sense of the times in which he lived. There is a streetwalker in knee-high boots on the Rue Saint-Denis; a polished Rolls-Royce in front of the Ritz; an aged accordionist begging for a living outside Carnegie Hall; a Mississippi fiddler.
Like those of his contemporaries Cartier-Bresson, Lartigue, and Kertész, Eisenstaedt's photographs stop you in your tracks, their meanings more complexly layered with every passing decade. Take his shot of 5- and 6-year-olds, wide-eyed and screaming at a puppet show in a Paris park in l963, just as television was beginning its long, depressing siege on childhood's imaginative realm. Or the image of women in their spring chapeaus, taking afternoon tea on the roof of the Excelsior Hotel in Florence in 1934, pretending that their pleasant world would endure. The historical resonance of such images is what makes this a thinking person's book, but of course it is possible to love it just for the celebrities, nearly all of them now gone. --Peggy Moorman
Publisher: Little Brown & Co (T)
Hardcover : 160 pages