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.