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“Chaotic Freedom” in Civil War Louisiana: The Origins of an Iconic Image

Bruce Laurie et al.

Chaotic Freedom is the story of two men transformed for the better through the Civil War. It is also the biography of an iconic photograph. The men are printer and newspaper publisher Henry S. Gere and currier and carpenter Marshall S. Stearns, both from western Massachusetts. The photograph they eventually collaborated to produce became the Civil War emblem featured in Harper’s: the carte de visite of Peter, often misidentified as “Gordon,” the slave with scourged back, elbow jutting, and striking profile. Together, these biographies tell us of the possibility of personal redemption, the importance of the ordinary, and the evolution of an image.

— Read an article about the book in the Boston Globe
— Listen to an author interview on WHMP.
— Read an excerpt here.

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