Amberley Publishing's "Through Time" does a great job of allowing readers to see very directly how the subject of a particular volume has changed over the years. The usual approach is to set out on a page a historical photograph, which can then be compared with a modern view of the same subject. When combined with a fairly detailed caption giving the background to the subject, the outcome is a very immediate and literally graphic representation of the passage of time. The results are usually fascinating, though there is often also a tinge of regret when we see buildings and views that have been lost, often in the cause of "improvement".
As a subject for this approach, Edinburgh has a lot going for it. It is a city that has retained much of historical interest, though much has also changed. It is also a city in which one or more of a set of fixed landmarks (Edinburgh Castle, Arthur' Seat, Calton Hill and the Scott Monument) can be seen in many views. Taken together these factors mean that many pairs of old and new photographs of the same scene in Edinburgh are likely to show things that have changed, but also enough that is constant to allow a meaningful comparison to be made.
Edinburgh must have been one of the most photographed cities on Earth throughout the photographic era, and "Edinburgh Through Time" by Liz Hanson takes a broadly based approach to tackling the huge number of potential subjects on offer in the city. The result is a book that begins in the city centre with the Castle, Royal Mile and other parts of the Old Town. We then move to Princes Street before skirting the New Town en route to the university quarter and the suburbs, with coverage extending out to include Duddingston, Swanston and Cramond. We then return to the New Town, before concluding in Newhaven and Leith. The result is fascinating, but a little thinly spread, and we wonder whether an opportunity was missed by not focusing on Edinburgh city centre itself. We also found that while the historical photographs and captions are excellent, a number of the modern photos have an unsettling lean to the right, which does get in the way of fully appreciating their content.