James Agee and Others
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A re-discovered masterpiece of reporting by a literary icon and a celebrated photographer
In 1941, James Agee and Walker Evans published Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a 400-page prose symphony about three tenant farming families in Hale County, Alabama, at the height of the Great Depression. The book shattered journalistic and literary conventions. Critic Lionel Trilling called it the “most realistic and most important moral effort of our American generation.”
The origins of Agee and Evans’s famous collaboration date back to an assignment for Fortune magazine, which sent them to Alabama in the summer of 1936 to report a story that was never published. Some have assumed that Fortune’s editors shelved the story because of the unconventional style that marked Famous Men, and for years the original report was presumed lost.
But fifty years after Agee’s death, a trove of his manuscripts turned out to include a typescript labeled “Cotton Tenants.” Once examined, the pages made it clear that Agee had in fact written a masterly, 30,000-word report for Fortune.
Published here for the first time, and accompanied by thirty of Walker Evans’s historic photos, Cotton Tenants is an eloquent report of three families struggling through desperate times. Indeed, Agee’s dispatch remains relevant as one of the most honest explorations of poverty in America ever attempted and as a foundational document of long-form reporting. As the novelist Adam Haslett writes in an introduction, it is “a poet’s brief for the prosecution of economic and social injustice.”
Publishers Weekly Review
© Publishers Weekly
Important book marred by typos
This important book is marred by typos. I would like to know who is checking on those who are employed to do the job of copying out the text for the iBook format. It is rare that I don't find numerous typos these days when reading a book formatted for iBooks, but this particular book is so poorly copied out I am often wondering to myself if Agee was even that good of a writer. Which isn't the case at all. I am not even going to broach that subject. In fact the only reason I am writing this review is in the hopes the the publisher will pay better attention in the future to the product they are releasing to the public and that maybe they will even go back and fix this one.
- Category: United States
- Published: May 29, 2013
- Publisher: Melville House
- Seller: Random House, LLC
- Print Length: 224 Pages
- Language: English