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The Likes Of Us [Hardcover]

Stu Cohen
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Oct. 1 2008 1567923402 978-1567923407
Housed at the Library of Congress, the archives of the Farm Security Administration are home to a unique visual record of American life from the late 1920s through the onset of the Second World War.Under the watchful eye of master photo editor Roy Stryker, dozens of photographers - from acknowledged giants like Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, and Dorothea Lange to little known names such as Marion Post Wolcott and Russell Lee - were sent out across the country to document the people, places, and activities of the FSA as it attempted to help poverty stricken farmers during the Depression era.Featuring 175 duotone photographs - all reproduced from the original negatives - "The Likes of Us" not only offers the chance to see a selection of famous and little-known images, but also to go behind the scenes of one of America's most original and creative government-sponsored projects.

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4.0 out of 5 stars The past becomes ever clearer Nov. 16 2008
Format:Hardcover
A worthy addition to the library of FSA photos though I say that with some reservations about the book's presentation. The idea for the publication came to author Stu Cohen years ago when he slowly discovered the FSA treasures in the Library of Congress. After writing his treatise nothing happened (and he died in 1995) until the publisher of this book came across it asked Peter Hales to edit the manuscript for publication.

Cohen's text: Photography and the Farm Security Administration, is rather short but he packs in a huge amount of fascinating analysis: social documentary photography; the photos as socio-historical evidence; as works of art and finally, as propaganda. The essay opens the book then there is an overview of FSA photos (forty-six pages) followed by ten portfolios of photos (108 pages) and lastly thirty pages of Roy Stryker's shooting scripts.

The inclusion of the shooting scripts is, for me, something that lifts the book above others in my collection. The only other publication that has a selection of scripts is a rather obscure 1968 exhibition catalog from the Newport Harbor Art Museum in Balboa, California, published as a book called 'Just before the War', it is a little gem with fifty-six photos and a wealth of information about Stryker and his staff.

The core of 'The likes of us' is the selection of nine field trips by five photographers: Evans; Lee; Lange; Post Wolcott and Shahn. They are presented as portfolios with captions and some relevant text plus there is a rather unusual addition of eight photos by Sheldon Dick of a sit-in strike at Flint, Michigan in1937. I don't think I need to comment on the images in the book, 'FSA photos' to me means quality storytelling, compositions, detail and humanity.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The past becomes ever clearer Nov. 16 2008
By Robin Benson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A worthy addition to the library of FSA photos though I say that with some reservations about the book's presentation. The idea for the publication came to author Stu Cohen years ago when he slowly discovered the FSA treasures in the Library of Congress. After writing his treatise nothing happened (and he died in 1995) until the publisher of this book came across it and asked Peter Hales to edit the manuscript for publication.

Cohen's text: Photography and the Farm Security Administration, is rather short but he packs in a huge amount of fascinating analysis: social documentary photography; the photos as socio-historical evidence; as works of art and finally, as propaganda. The essay opens the book then there is an overview of FSA photos (forty-six pages) followed by ten portfolios of photos (108 pages) and lastly thirty pages of Roy Stryker's shooting scripts.

The inclusion of the shooting scripts is, for me, something that lifts the book above others in my collection. The only other publication that has a selection of scripts is a rather obscure 1968 exhibition catalog from the Newport Harbor Art Museum in Balboa, California, Just Before the War : Urban America from 1935 to 1941 as Seen By Photographers of the Farm Security Administration : From the Collections of The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (worth searching book sites for a good price) it is a little gem with fifty-six photos and a wealth of information about Stryker and his staff.

The core of 'The likes of us' is the selection of nine field trips by five photographers: Evans; Lee; Lange; Post Wolcott and Shahn. They are presented as portfolios with captions and some relevant text plus there is a rather unusual addition of eight photos by Sheldon Dick of a sit-in strike at Flint, Michigan in1937. I don't think I need to comment on the images in the book, `FSA photos' to me means quality storytelling, compositions, detail and humanity.

The 175 photos are printed on good paper with a 175 screen but I was rather disappointed at the very conservative (old fashioned even) design. There really is just too much white space throughout the photo pages, they could have been made larger without compromising the photo book style. The first twenty-seven pages use roman numerals and rather annoyingly at least half the pages, in the rest of the book, have no numbers making the Contents page rather redundant as none of the photographer's opening portfolios has a number. None of the short captions have a period though longer captions do.

Despite the design aspect (so four stars) the book is worth having for the chance to see some well printed less well known FSA photos and to have the opportunity to read the fascinating shooting scripts which will give you a better understanding of this magnificent photo resource.

***SEE SOME INSIDE PAGES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FSA Forever! Jan. 23 2009
By From the Coast of Maine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
At a time when you can no longer get silver gelatin prints of these images from the Library of Congress, (thanks to the Bush Administration's priorities they seem to have "outsourced" this service, dismantling the darkroom, but never found anyone who could profit from this former government service?), this book is very welcome! It also clearly demonstrates why this collection is, indeed, a national treasure that needs to be protected and made available, in its intended form, again. The book is expansive, including many familiar images and many new ones. Stu Cohen's essay is both insightful and informative, shedding light on some of the ways Roy Stryker directed (and sometimes misdirected) his photographers. All in all, a must have addition to any serious FSA book collection.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Likes of Us March 31 2011
By ethan ellis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Bringing it all back home.

A must for those interested in the Farm Security Aministration, rural life in 1930s America or the great protographers of that era. Opens with a wonderful essay putting this greatest of documentary photo efforts in the context of that genre and its influence on future documentaries and recounts the history of its uses from its creation to the present; filled with many less well known jems as well icons

It's also full of surprises. As a seriou photographer, born im 1933 who visited his grandparents' 80 acre dirt farm in western Illinois most summers and having read several bios of Lange and others, I thought I had a general idea of what to expect. Much to my surprise, the first photo in the body of the text was of a family in Bound Brook, N.J., within ten miles of where I was born and also now live. There were two more New Jersey photos in the next few pages.

In readng it, I was torn between savoring a few dozen pages at a time and keeping it in my hands all the way to the end. Fortunately, a busy life forced me to do the former.

Ethan B. Ellis
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! July 8 2013
By 123456 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Great book, great photos! This was a gift for my father, he can not put it down. He loved this book.
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