More 'Postcards from...' the Bodleian

9 April 2009

The Bodleian Library has published two more titles in the Postcards from... series. The books feature images drawn from a stunning collection of political propaganda postcards which was donated to the Bodleian Library last year.  The collection, featuring thousands of cards from around the world, was put together by John Fraser over a period of six decades. The postcards are now part of The John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera.

Each book in the series presents around 50 postcards, with an image from the front of the postcard printed on the right-hand page and the verso of the card on the facing left-hand page of the book, together with a caption explaining the card.

Postcards from Checkpoint Charlie: Images of the Berlin Wall

cover_smallThose who escaped East Berlin […] showed the willingmness of the human spirit to take risks – even mortal ones – in order to be able to live in freedom. The Bodleian’s fine reproduction of these fascinating and moving postcards is a tribute to their courage[…] - Andrew Roberts

The Bodleian Library commemorates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall by publishing the third title in the series Postcards from.... Powerfully depicting one of the most iconic political events of the 20th century, Postcards from Checkpoint Charlie presents a remarkable collection of images to document the Wall’s presence over its 28-year history.

The postcards trace the development of the Wall—from its beginnings as a simple stretch of barbed wire to the daunting final structure made of interconnecting concrete sections and containing over 300 watchtowers.

The images capture scenes of tension and urgency, such as those at Checkpoint Charlie, where we see Allied and Soviet soldiers in a tense standoff. Others document the Wall’s ties with international leaders, including John F. Kennedy in 1963 when he declared his solidarity with all Berliners and Ronald Regan when he implored Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Wall. We see Berliners as they respond to the Wall’s presence, initially with bewilderment and curiosity in the early days, to their acceptance of the reality of the Wall, and finally, the euphoria as the Wall was toppled and thousands of joyful East Germans realized the fulfilment of their personal dreams at the conclusion of the Cold War.

An intimate look at one of the most visible manifestations of the postwar divide, Postcards from Checkpoint Charlie presents a key location in 20th century history through the eyes of those on the scene.

Postcards of Political Icons: Leaders of the Twentieth Century

CoverPI_smallWith this fine collection as our guide, we should not fall for such obvious tricks as political image manipulation ever again. Yet we doubtless will. – Andrew Roberts

Postcards of Political Icons: Leaders of the Twentieth Century
draws together a unique collection of images of the individuals who influenced and shaped the course of the 20th century in the political arena. They include the leaders who presided over the demise of colonialism, who led the communist revolution, who were in the vanguard of the rise of dictatorship and fascism, who fought two world wars and prevented the start of a third war. They include individuals who never held political office or whose moment in the spotlight was brief, but whose influence was nevertheless profound.

Opening in the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II and continuing to the eve of the second Gulf War, Postcards of Political Icons presents the story of the 20th century through the politicians who led revolutions and coups, and who won and lost military wars and political elections, seen in sometimes unusual—and often surprisingly personal—moments. Charles de Gaulle gazes impetuously, hands on hips, as he puffs on a cigarette; Yasser Arafat wrestles with chopsticks; while Benito Mussolini, known for his public performances, strikes a defiant pose.

There are unusual and surprisingly personal images drawn from the eve of the 20th century, conveying the optimism of empires and their then seemingly interminable legacies, as well as the twilight years of the epoch, when the crisis of the Cold War had been overcome and a renewed optimism arose from the new world order which it was perceived lay just around the corner.
This is a fascinating and unique insight into the iconography of political power and the reality of the people behind it. 

The Bodleian Library Publishing programme publishes books about or related to collections of books and manuscripts found in the Bodleian Library and other OULS libraries, with the aim of increasing knowledge of and access to these historic documents. All the Library’s titles can be viewed and ordered at 

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