Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

Three Tenant Families

eBook - 2001
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This portrait of poverty-stricken Southern tenant farmers during the Great Depression has become one of the most influential books of the past century.

In the summer of 1936, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer James Agee and photographer Walker Evans set out on assignment for Fortune magazine to explore the daily lives of white sharecroppers in the South. Their journey would prove an extraordinary collaboration--and a watershed literary event.

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was published to enormous critical acclaim. An unsparing record in words and pictures of this place, the people who shaped the land, and the rhythm of their lives, it would eventually be recognized by the New York Public Library as one of the most influential books of the twentieth century--and serve as an inspiration to artists from composer Aaron Copland to David Simon, creator of The Wire . With an additional sixty-four archival photos in this edition, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men remains as relevant and important as when it was first published over seventy-seven years ago.

"One of the most brutally revealing records of an America that was ignored by society--a class of people whose level of poverty left them as spiritually, mentally, and physically worn as the land on which they toiled. Time has done nothing to decrease this book's power." -- Library Journal
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2001, c1941.
Edition: 1st Mariner Books ed.
ISBN: 9780547526393
0547526393
Branch Call Number: eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xi, 416 p.) :,ill.
Additional Contributors: Evans, Walker 1903-1975.
Axis 360 (Firm)

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joliebergman
Apr 02, 2018

This is a difficult read for multiple reasons, primarily the subject but mostly the writing style itself. It’s like some sort of 400 page artist statement/religious text hybrid. Made it about halfway through and then just started reading a couple of lines from the next 200 pages. I spent significantly more time studying the beautiful photographs. Still, overall it’s fascinating and I am looking forward to reading about how the children of these men turned out: “And Their Children After Them: The Legacy of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: James Agee, Walker Evans, and the Rise and Fall of Cotton in the South”.

l
lukasevansherman
Dec 09, 2013

James Agee didn't see 50, but wrote a few celebrated and influential works on which his reputation rests: "A Death in the Family," the screenplay for "The African Queen" and this non-fiction book. In 1936, he and photographer Walker Evans (his photos preface the book) went to the South to report on tenant families and this was the result. In its fusion of Agee's idiosyncratic and spirited voice and reportage it forecasts the New Journalists, as well as the Beats. You won't learn much about the farmers, who remain ciphers, but you'll learn a lot about Agee. His self-involved, turgid and seemingly unedited prose (drawing from Faulkner and Wolfe) overwhelms the grim subject matter, rather than offering any insights or sympathy. Here's the most obnoxious sentence: "I could not wish any of them that they should have had the 'advantages' I have had: a Harvard education is by no means an unqualified advantage." Yeah, it's really tough going to Harvard and God forbid any of these farmers get a world class education. Jerk.

r
RainCityLibrarian
Dec 06, 2013

My Desert Island Book #2: this one literally blew my mind when I read it, many summers ago. It isn't an easy book to read, but this powerful testament, this monumental witness to suffering and human dignity has an amazing, mesmeric kind of power. Agee was sent down South to write an article, but what happened to him there, the transformation that took place for him that led to an entire book, was remarkable. Like the best journalists, he does all he can to help us to see and understand these people, but ultimately what it became for him was something far deeper - a religious sacrament, a dark night of the soul, and a searching, searing quest for meaning that awaits any reader with ears to hear, with eyes to see.

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