Wrestling: A Pictorial History by David Hofstede

May 1, 2019

This is a strange book as, it’s unclear what it’s meant to be, and whatever the case it it falls short. It’s nothing but captioned pictures and, despite the name, there’s no attempt at chronology or covering major events.

Instead the pictures are separated into a couple of dozen loose themes, though the categorization is extremely disputable, with lowlights including Danny Hodge placed across the page from Viscera in the “Journeymen” sections.

The images have clearly been sourced and licensed from a variety of photo libraries, with it being clear that inclusion was down to availability more than editorial merit, hence the somewhat unlikely mix of seven wrestlers in the “ladies” section: genuine all-time stars Mildred Burke and Fabulous Moolah are joined by Ivory from the modern era and then lesser-known names Jean Kennedy, Ann Stanley, Ella Phillips and Lola Simpson, all clearly taken from the same collection.

The picture quality is a very mixed bag, again seemingly dependent on the source. This creates the odd situation where some of the oldest pictures are sharp and good quality, while some of the shots of Attitude era performers are blurry, poorly lit pictures of wrestlers at social events or taken from the stands at shows.

For a photo book to be worthwhile, it really needs to be a thing of beauty that provides pleasure rather than information. The lack of editorial control, the softback design, and the way photos are slapped on the page in any old size and proportion means this doesn’t make the grade.

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