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Excellent new book features colorized Civil War photographs

Cincinnati-based author and graphic artist John C. Guntzelman has produced a fascinating and hard-to-put-down new book entitled The Civil War in Color: A Photographic Reenactment of the War Between the States. It is perhaps the most interesting compilation of photographs I have seen in quite some time. Guntzelman spent countless hours poring over the vast collection of Civil War photos in the Library of Congress. He selected a nice cross-section of people, landscapes, naval vessels, towns, and battlefield shots and then using digital overlays, colorized each image.

The results are often stunning. Seeing color brings out so many details long ignored in some very familiar images. One example is the cover scene of George Armstrong Custer and his colleagues posing for a group photograph in Virginia, where the array of items in the foreground now stand out much more than in the original image.

Guntzelman begins with a history of the early attempts to develop color photography, as well as the art of hand colorizing images to enhance them for public sale. This nicely sets the stage for the real gems of the book, his modern colorized interpretations of the old black-and-white pictures. Here are a few examples. My attempts to photograph some of the pages of this book do not do justice to his wonderful talent. You have to see the book first-hand.

The new book contains more than 200 such photographs, from colorized images of leading generals on both sides to views of low ranking privates. Group scenes, individual photographs, people-less landscapes, naval and riverine scenes, it’s all here in John Guntzelman’s phenomenal collection of colorized pictures. The above shots are but a poor reflection of the stunning depth of his imagery.

This book would make a marvelous gift for that Civil War buff on your Christmas or birthday list.

Here is a snippet from the publisher:

“These photos are no longer just dusty old pictures, but rather have become very real moments in time from our collective past, frozen forever in color.”–John C. Guntzelman

The Civil War comes alive as never before in this extraordinary collection of colorized photographs from the era. Not only does it feature portraits of famous leaders and ordinary soldiers but also vignettes of American life during the conflict: scenes from urban and plantation life; destroyed cities; contested battlefields. The 200+ photographs, from the Library of Congress’s archives, include both well-known and rarely seen images.  Also inside–a fine art ready-to-frame photographic print of a stunning colorized Civil War photograph.

The Civil War in Color: A Photographic Reenactment of the War Between the States

  • ISBN-13: 9781402790812
  • Publisher: Sterling
  • Publication date: 11/6/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • MSRP = $35.00 (discounted to $22.93 on
  • Also available for Nook