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Assigned to do a story for Fortune magazine about sharecroppers in the Deep South, Agee and Evans spent four weeks living with a poor white tenant family, winning the Burroughs's trust and immersing themselves in a sharecropper's daily existence. Given a first draft of the resulting article, the editors at Fortune quite understandably threw up their hands--as did several other editors who subsequently worked with a later book-length manuscript. The writing was contrary. It refused to accommodate itself to the reader, and at times it positively bristled with hostility. (What other book could take Marx as the epigraph and then announce: "These words are quoted here to mislead those who will be misled by them"?) Response to the book was puzzled or unfriendly, and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men sputtered out of print only a few short years after its publication. It took the 1960s, and a vogue for social justice, to bring Agee's masterwork the audience it deserved.
Yet the book is far more interesting--aesthetically and morally--than the sort of guilty-liberal tract for which it is often mistaken. On an existential level, Agee's text is a deeply felt examination of what it means to suffer, to struggle to live in spite of suffering. On a personal level, it is the painful, beautifully written portrait of one man's obsession. In its collaboration with Evans's photographs, the book is also a groundbreaking experiment in form. In the end, however, it is more than merely the sum of its parts. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is, quite simply, a book unlike any other, simmering with anger and beauty and mystery. --Mary Park --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The photos by Walker Evans in "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" are, in my judgment, American classics. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Rev. Ralph
Social commentary has changed a lot since this was written, but this is still an excellent first-person account of rural life in the South.Published 2 months ago by Edmonds Kathy
This book is important and beautiful, aesthetically and humanly. Agee conveys to his audience what he rightly sees as an economic crime of vast proportions and also anticipates the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jemima McFarland
Seems like posed alterity, and by that I mean poseur poverty. Look at the front cover. Just look at it. Does it not look like a sexy still of actor Edward Norton? Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jacqueline M Mraz
Let Us All Now Praise Famous Men begins with Walker Evan’s scalpel sharp photographs of three Alabama sharecropper families and their rented cabins, and is followed by James Agee’s... Read morePublished 6 months ago by F. McGavran
Both a literary classic and a moving historical piece. At times hard to read, however. It is great and should be required reading for the student of America's Great Depression.Published 6 months ago by Roy
Hard to find - glad we did - know this area of Alabama and love it.Published 6 months ago by M. Radcliff