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Appalachian Legacy Paperback – January 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi (January 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578060494
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578060498
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 10.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,610,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Adams brings a respectful but always honest eye to his photographs of the people and places of Appalachia. At a quick glance, this work might seem essentially a graphic depiction of poverty, neglect, and need. But a careful look, which Adams's book deserves, reveals a world of families and history and a timeless merging of people and place. Appalachia has long been synonymous with the rural struggle that results from too little income and too little education, but here it emerges as a place of frail dignity and enduring natural rhythm. Adams must be praised for his skills in handling photography: his black-and-white images are exquisitely composed, finely detailed, full of deep tone and texture, and memorable to viewers. In addition, his fine essay, which opens the book, explains in a humble way how he achieved his visual mastery of Appalachian subjects. Highly recommended.?David Bryant, New Canaan P.L., CT
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

paper 1-57806-049-4 A further documentary record of the lives of nine families in Appalachia by the creator of Appalachian Portraits (1993). Like that earlier volume, this new collection of photographs by Adams is frank, unsentimental, but often affectionate. And like Walker Evans, who took some notable photographs in the rural South, Adams is a master at using available light to saturate an image--these black-and-white photographs of families gathered on the porches or in the crowded rooms of their hardscrabble, venerable homes show a remarkable crispness of detail. While the effects of longstanding poverty and malnutrition, along with the ravages of disease and alcoholism, are all evident here, so too are a resilience and grace. Adams's lengthy notes on the families he portrays also stress his conviction that for far too long, poor rural southerners have been the victims of one-dimensional depictions. An unusual record, in prose and photographs, of an old and ebbing way of life by a disciplined, gifted photographer. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Hurley on January 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
I grew up in rural Kentucky in an area where conditions were very similar to those in the Appalachian region. My first viewing of this book disturbed and angered me. I asked myself how someone could make a coffee table book out of subject matter which embarassed me because of where I grew up! I knew and grew up with people no different than this and didn't like seeing what I was seeing. It was a bittersweet sensation. It was a paradox for me. On the one hand, I have beautiful memories of growing up in rural Kentucky. On the other hand, I've never been able to figure out how people could live like this. After reading the narrative, searching my soul, and talking with my wife, I realize that these people aren't dissatisfied with life! They live hard lives but still enjoy life just like my family did. We rarely had two dimes to rub together but I was always happy. Life was good. Now this book has a home on my coffee table and I look at it with fond memories and affection for the people who live there.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Williams on May 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book inspired me as a photographer, and human to look beyond the obvious. The people of Appalachia are represented in startling frankness. Through the eyes of Shelby Lee Adams we are allowed a glimpse into the lives of individuals who are so often stereotyped by the media. While the photographs stand on their own quite beautifully, the text serves to tell the story of each of the families or individuals depicted. Shelby Lee Adams writes from the point of view of someone who has shared the lives of the people photographed. The book was thoughfully designed and the photographs are large. This is not just a picture-book by any means, the writing style and content make this book a gem.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Chick Patrizio Trizio@aol.com on April 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Mr.Adams provides a REAL look at the people of Appalachia. His photos capture the sorrow, joy, desperation, but most of all the pride of these mountain folks. His subjects are real and "in your face". Although some of these pictures show some of the worst poverty in the United States, the people display a simple strength and love of their land and heritage. Shelby Lee Adams is a master at combining all of these traits and producing a photograph that makes you come back time after time to look. I have worn the pages out in my copy and still find something new in each photo every time I go back. Thank you Mr. Shelby and keep the excellent work coming.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Taylor on February 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
Anybody really interested in understanding this book should check out a documentary called "True Meaning of Pictures," in which Adams and several Appalachian scholars and art critics debate his pictures in more depth than anybody can do at Amazon.

For my part, I think that for all his great skill as an artist, when you boil it all down, Shelby Lee Adams is a disingenuous and irresponsible photographer who doesn't have the social conscience he says he has. Adams defends his work by saying that these photographs are not meant to be documentary photographs, but "art" and therefore do not have to portray reality. (In fact, the people he portrays are essentially models -- none of these shots were taken spontaneously or "in action." As you can see in the documentary, their postures and expressions were considerably manipulated by Adams.)

Adams has every right to create the kind of art he wishes, but considering the damage that art photographers have done (and still do) to places like Appalachia through their fixation on "artistic" subjects like poverty and industrial dilapidation, you would think that Adams might have had a little more tact and chosen another subject for his art and a less stereotyped setting than Eastern Kentucky.

As an example of the potential impact Adams' photos can have, one of the images in "Appalachian Legacy" depicts a man holding a knife standing next to his mentally-handicapped son. According to the photographer, this is an allegory of God sacrificing his son Jesus. I don't care where you come from or whether you've ever been to Appalachia: the overwhelming majority of people in America viewing this picture for the first time are probably going to think "this is an ignorant hillbilly trying to kill his retarded son.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Shelby Lee Adams is wonderful photographer. I am from Kentucky, and although the photographs are not typical of most people of the area, they definitely document part of the dying culture of Appalachia...people like the ones pictured do exist!
Some feel that Adams' photos are demeaning to the subjects. I don't feel this way at all. Instead, I feel that he is portraying his subjects as something interesting and worth documenting. Anyone offended by the photos has their own bias against the subjects.
The pictures in this book are also among the most interesting photos I have ever seen. Every time you look at one of Shelby Lee Adams' photos, you see something new and interesting about it. I highly recommend this book. This guy is my favorite photographer!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Howard W. Stukes on April 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
...I live in Ashe County, NC hard up by the Tennessee and Virginia line...today at WalMart I didn't see a single person that looked like they were out of Adam's photographs...not one, and we're facing 15% unemployment here in the mountains....Adams strikes me as a guy who studied the 1930s photos of the Farm Security Administration....then picked up a camera and decided to do a modern photo shoot skewed thru the lens of the Great Depression.....the shots are interesting, but I see Adams as a Walker Evans wanna-be.
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