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Nick Pistor discusses new book ‘Shooting Lincoln,' detailing photography during the Civil War

Author Nick Pistor and St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh discuss "Shooting Lincoln" at Left Bank Books on Sept. 27.
File Photo | Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Author Nick Pistor and St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh discuss "Shooting Lincoln" at Left Bank Books on Sept. 27.

The men who took the most memorable photographs during the Civil War are the subject of local author Nick Pistor’s newest book, “Shooting Lincoln: Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, and the Race to Photograph the Story of the Century.”

At a special St. Louis on the Air event last week at Left Bank Books in the Central West End, host Don Marsh talked with Pistor, who is a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Matthew Brady is perhaps the foremost photographer of the 19th century, one of the most famous photographers to ever exist,” Pistor said.

Meeting in 1851 at the Great Exhibition in London, Alexander Gardner became Brady’s understudy. However, sometime between the beginning and end of the Civil War, a rift developed between the two photographers and Gardner split to form his own studio.

“[Gardner] ended up taking some of the more epic shots of the Civil War and ultimately most of the famous shots of the Lincoln assassination,” Pistor said.

“In many ways, I think that Alexander Gardner surpasses Matthew Brady.”

In the book, Pistor argues that Brady and Gardner were media pioneers who had a lasting impact on the industry that can be traced to TMZ, paparazzi and film.

“What really struck me is how close those events mimic what we have today and how both of the two men really blazed the trail of media we have today,” Pistor said.

Pistor is also the author of “The Ax Murders of Saxtown.”


St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.