Cover image for Century
Bernard, Bruce.
Publication Information:
London : Phaidon Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
1120 pages : chiefly illustrations (some color) ; 26 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
D426 .C46 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating
D426 .C46 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Before even opening this award-winning book, you are struck by the sheer physical presence of Century . With 1,120 pages and 1,072 images, this colossal volume offers an informative, intimate and incisive insight into the twentieth century from the very beginning to the very end. Century is an extensive historical trajectory through the twentieth century, told through an eclectic yet exhaustive sequence of monumental photographic images.

More than any other before it, the twentieth century was one of unforeseeable advances, discoveries and victories as well as unanticipated atrocities and suffering. It was also the first century to have been documented entirely through the lens of the camera. The chronological journey of Century - in a visually extraordinary sequence of images - takes us from the end of Queen Victoria's reign, through the antics of Buster Keaton and the odyssey into outer space and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Assimilated from diverse sources across the world, the photographs are instantly arresting and tirelessly thought-provoking. Selected for their capacity to expose distinctly human stories with the dynamism that drives historical change, the tome combines iconic images with photographs previously unseen, from international political events to highly personal and anonymous vignettes.

Each photograph is substantiated by a brief but thorough historical explanation; every single scene is brought to life by evocative literary and political quotations. Century is as much an historical tour de force as it is an enlightening visual celebration of the past from a vast range of angles.

Author Notes

Bruce Bernard (1929-2000) was Picture Editor of The Sunday Times Magazine and in 1980 he produced Photodiscovery - a highly respected account of the revolution in attitudes to photography. Bernard was Visual Arts Editor of the Saturday Independent Magazine for its first four years. He curated the exhibition 'All Human Life' at London's Barbican Centre in 1996, and was the curator of a private collection of photographs. Century is the culmination of his extensive knowledge and the experience he gained during 30 years of looking at pictures.

Terence McNamee, who acted as historical advisor and wrote the historical background for Century , studied politics and international relations at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and at the McGill University, Montreal.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Starting like a salute to art photography (Atget, Lƒrtigue, Kert‚sz) and ending like a gruesome history of photojournalism (with the full-color disasters in the Balkans, Rwanda, and Columbine), this enormous collection of 20th-century pictures has no triumphalist or revisionist point to make. In fact, British picture editor Bernard brings nothing but his rather random eye to this loose, arty representation of our inspiring and brutal century. The book's shallow captions range from the credulous ("Mistrustful Alabama patrolmen watching African-Americans intent on racial integration") to the ridiculous ("US Marines waiting to embark for Korea. The image could move us to wish themÄand their enemiesÄwell." What?). But the book does average an impressive ten photos per annum, many of them spectacular, grisly, or moving. The year 1934 matches the historical pairs of Riefenstahl and Hitler and Bonnie and Clyde. More sensationally, a murdered young Brazilian transvestite appears opposite a bare-breasted Italian porn star for 1987, and Nixon and Eisenhower at the 1952 Republican convention are paired with a picture of a Korean guerrilla's severed head. Why? Because they are allÄlynching victims, shelled children, or movie starsÄmerely contextless images with which Bernard plays visual games. Over the long haul, this handsome, scattered book's equality of violent and arty images reduces both to a numbing sameness. Recommended for larger libraries with the shelf space and the budget.ÄNathan Ward, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.