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Let Truth Be the Prejudice: W. Eugene Smith, His Life and Photographs Hardcover – October 15, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This survey of Smith's work is a particularly fine one, in terms of the reproduction quality, choice, and layout of images. The juxtaposition of picture groups seems to parallel the emotional upheavals and periods of calm in his life: World War II, rural America, Ku Klux Klan, Spain and Africa (Albert Schweitzer), the mammoth Pittsburgh project, gentle views from his Manhattan window, jazz artists, an unpublished Haiti essay, Japan (Minamata). The pictures (accompanied by lengthy quotations from Smith) speak eloquently of his vision, mission, and craftsmanship. Unfortunately, Maddow's essay adds far more than we need to know about Smith's personal relationships, by way of a tiresome pastiche taken from the thousands of documents at the Center for Creative Photography. (Maddow performed this same service in Edward Weston: fifty years ). The accompanying bibliography of photo essays and writings by and about Smith is very useful. Kathleen Collins, Library of Congress
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"In Eugene Smith's work the world found an important aspect of America-- its longstanding moral passion. He hungered after that conclusive, suggestive moment of visual truth; he sought through pictures a précis of one then another aspect of our humanity. And he succeeded in that search-- giving us in sum a broad and deep rendering of this life's thickly textured particulars. We are much indebted to him."--Robert Coles, author of Dorothea Lange: Photographs of a Lifetime

"Gene Smith is reviewed today as a shining knight of light. He explored photography's power to project human drama and emotion. He succeeded in raising our level of conscience and he himself perished too soon, paying the price."--Cornell Capa, Director, International Center of Photography

"Gene Smith was perhaps the photographer who tried most heroically to make the magazine photo story lead the standards of coherence, intensity, and personal accountability that one expects of a work of art."--John Szarkowski, Director, Department of Photography, Museum of Modern Art

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Aperture (October 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0893811793
  • ISBN-13: 978-0893811792
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 10.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #570,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
In the fall of 1985 I drove down from Northern New Jersey to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the retrospective show of W. Eugene Smith's work for which this book was the catalog. I walked through the rooms and people stood in front of his Minamata photographs, weeping. Smith paid for those pictures with his eyesight, probably the better part of his sanity. If he drank before, the stories are that after his return from Japan he plunged into the bottle full-bore. If one can talk of a man's life and work in religious terms, W. Eugene Smith's career was a prolonged and self-willed crucifixion, a sacrifice in the name of a Truth that I'm not sure we're ready for yet.
I haven't photographed seriously in quite a few years, but whenever I made a print, there in the darkroom I could feel Smith's presence saying two things to me: "You're lousy at this" and "Don't ever stop."
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By S. WATSON on June 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In the mid-70's, I attended a slide lecture by Smith at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. I didn't know a thing about him, but the presentation haunts me still. He was helped onto the stage, a very old man, and quietly, he narrated the Minimata work in a slide show. The audience, a bunch of party school undergrads and townspeople, were completely silent the entire time. It was almost as if Smith knew that if the slightest emotion showed in his voice, his audience would be lost in sobs. He didn't editorialize, he just spoke, simply and quietly. At the end of the show, he put up one last slide. It was of a blackboard with the words in chalk, "Thank you, all you lovely people." It brings tears to my eyes almost 20 years later.
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By Stefano Giovannini on May 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The cover is not so enticing, with that red outline.
But the quality of the book is superb. I bought a few W. Eugene Smith's books on the same week, so I have not looked at all in detail. The print quality is very good, the paper shows very nicely the deep blacks and dark tones of Smith's photographs, without making them look dull like on lower quality books.

It is a large book with many photo essays that cover large part of Smith's career.

There is a lot of text as well. A lot of information about Smith's assignments and biography.

Really a great book I am happy to own. A great introduction to this photographer's work.

W. Eugene Smith is an amazing photographer. His photos are not just a mere representation of reality. The toning, the printing technique are as important as the framing, the composition to bring to the viewer the complex realities of life with emotion, passion, compassion.

This book is not a collection of single images, but photo essays where series of photographs can really tell a story and bring a slice of life to the viewer.
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