Civil War photographer Mathew Brady largely taught himself the finer points of the two pursuits that have linked his name to history: taking pictures and self-promotion. The son of Irish immigrant farmers had a talent for cajoling presidents, generals and business leaders to sit before his camera.
Other than his birth around 1823 in Warren County, N.Y., little is recorded about Brady’s early life, a challenge for biographer Robert Wilson. Yet readers of ‘Mathew Brady: Portraits of a Nation’ probably benefit from this dearth of personal information.
Wilson moves quickly to what matters most – Brady’s role in how we see America in the mid- to late 19th century.