Reading American Photographs
Winner of the Charles C. Eldredge Prize
In this book, Alan Trachtenberg reinterprets some of America's most significant photographs, presenting them not as static images but rather as rich cultural texts suffused with meaning and historical content. Reading American Photographs is lavishly illustrated with the work of such luminaries as…
Why read it?
1 author picked Reading American Photographs as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
The late Alan Trachtenberg (he died in 2020) did more than any other scholar or critic to further our understanding of photographs as cultural documents. This book – probing, detailed yet precise, and endlessly interesting – is his masterpiece. The chapters devoted to Civil War photographs and to American Photographs (1938), the extraordinary photobook produced by artist Walker Evans, are especially powerful. There is a sense in which the books I commend by other authors here – including my own The Grass Shall Grow (2020) -- would not be possible without Trachtenberg’s example.
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