Images at War: Illustrated Periodicals and Constructed Nations


302 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-3757-7
DDC 070.4'9'09409034




Reviewed by Graeme S. Mount

Graeme S. Mount is a professor of history at Laurentian University. He
is the author of Canada’s Enemies: Spies and Spying in the Peaceable
Kingdom, Chile and the Nazis, and The Diplomacy of War: The Case of


The Franco–Prussian War (1870) was Western Europe’s only war between
the fall of Napoleon in 1815 and the outbreak of World War I almost a
century later. It had global repercussions. Other German states united
around Prussia and completed the unification of Germany. Victorious
Germany annexed the French province of Alsace-Lorraine and set the stage
for World War I, as French citizens considered another conflict only a
matter of time. The French Emperor, Napoleon III, lost his throne and
France became a republic. Faced with a new great power across the North
Sea (Germany), the British government withdrew the last of its army from
Canada and settled outstanding issues with the United States in 1871.
The United Kingdom settled its differences with France in 1904. Italian
forces overran the Papal States, previously protected by France, united
Italy, and in the process launched a battle with the Roman Catholic
Church, which lasted until 1929.

Michиle Martin, a professor in Carleton University’s School of
Journalism and Communications, reviews illustrated press coverage of the
war in Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Even if there
were no text, the pictures would make the book a worthwhile purchase.
Photography was in its infancy, but the magazines that Martin uses sent
artists to the scenes of the action. Particularly poignant are the
pictures of Napoleon III crossing the battlefield of Sedan (littered
with bodies) after his surrender; the Paris butcher ship, which was
selling cats, dogs, and rats; and the dismantling of the bridge across
the Rhine.

The text deals with the way reporters gathered the news and with their
editorial bias, rather than with the war itself. Fortunately, Martin
realized that a 21st-century readership would not remember (or never
learned) the details of the war and would require some historical
background. She also provides a history of the illustrated press in
Europe and in Canada.


Martin, Michèle., “Images at War: Illustrated Periodicals and Constructed Nations,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 17, 2024,