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Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange Paperback – October 1, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6 Up-As a photographer, Lange specialized in documentary-type portraits, seeking to capture in people's faces the stories of their lives. Through the years of the Great Depression and the Second World War, she recorded the down-and-out, the oppressed, the needy. Her portrait "Migrant Mother" has become a familiar icon of hardship, a symbol of the dislocation and poverty caused by the dust bowl in the 1930s. Her camera recorded the Japanese Americans sent to internment camps in the 1940s, and in later travels she preserved the images of children around the world. As a young girl the author knew Lange and was, through her photographer father, connected with the intimate circle of Lange's family and friends. She uses personal memories; her subject's own written words in diaries, interviews, and letters; and especially a liberal selection of dramatic photographs to show the talent and the complex personality of this extraordinary woman. It was hard for Lange, in the decades in which she lived, to pursue her career while balancing family responsibilities and personal crises. She was independent, even radical, in her political thinking and social philosophy. Her story resonates with issues of gender, social policies, artistic merit, and human interest. This well-constructed, sympathetic biography deserves many readers and is a must for every library.
Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 6^-12. Lange's stirring black-and-white photographs, more than 60 of them, exquisitely reproduced, provide the drama in this biography of the famous camera artist. Here are the famous pictures that brought the nation up close to the man on the bread line during the Depression, a migrant mother unable to feed her children, a sharecropper in the South, a homeless child on the road, a Japanese American family interned during World War II. The beautiful, spacious design of this photo-essay, with thick quality paper, clear type, and brief quotes from Lange at the head of each chapter, invites you to come back and look and look at her work. The pictures show how Lang got close to people and that she caught her subjects in relation to harsh, powerful events and to one another. Partridge draws on letters, journals, and oral history to give a strong sense of Lange's personal struggles as a child, a wife, and a mother; her lasting pain at her father's desertion; her shame over the disability caused by a childhood bout with polio; and her awareness as an adult that that vulnerability helped her in her work. The author also provides an insider's viewpoint: as a child, she knew Lange. Partridge's father became Lange's assistant at the age of 17, and he worked with her for years in the field and in the darkroom. Many of the photos of Lange in the book are by him, including some of Lange with the child Elizabeth. Like Freedman's, Martha Graham , this fine photo-essay will interest adults as much as teens. A Junior Library Guild Selection. Hazel Rochman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 0970 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142300241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142300244
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.4 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,128,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Are you looking for non-fiction which is well-written and interesting, and covers topics over which students are generally tested for state proficiency or competency standards? This book fits all requirements. The author doesn't flinch at presenting the difficult, occasionally less-than-flattering side of the talented photographer, so that the reader comes away with a feeling of having met a "real" person, albeit one with tremendous talent. Yet, Partridge focuses on the life and times of her subject without "sensationalism". The book is well-written. Partridge never talks down to her readers, and her clear language and vocabulary should be well within the capabilities of 7th, 8th or 9th grade students. This book ties art, social studies and language arts together in perfect harmony for a study of the Depression Era of US history. Adults will enjoy this book as well.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By JK on November 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This isn't the most comprehensive book on Dorothea Lange, a woman of some complication. However, it can be a great introduction and a stimulus to looking deeper into her life and work. Ms. Partridge brings a unique perspective to the book that 'outside' biographers can't offer. I've been a fan of hers since I grew up in the sixties; she spawned along with others, a new generation of activist photographers. Many of the photos in this book are standards to be found elsewhere. What I particularly enjoyed were the family photos which can't be found elsewhere. My overriding impression of this subject was a prickly and difficult woman who was driven by her problematic past, combined with genius and empathy that few have possessed. Recommended for anyone new to Lange and her work. Written for the younger reader.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By myshutterisbugged on December 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a photography student, and we had to read and write a book report on a photographer for class. I selected Dorothea because I am became interested in the 1930's through the 1950's in America, particularly photographically.
Let me say that Dorothea lived a lifestyle way ahead of her time. During a period in America when women stayed home with their children and husbands, Dorothea farmed out her children to be on the road and working.
I really enjoyed this book. It had some of her well-known photographs i.e. The Migrant Mother, and others that I enjoyed seeing. I wish there had been more of her photography in the book and perhaps more details of her life.
The story is written by the daughter of her life-long assistant Ron Partridge. Elizabeth Partridge does a good job with the information she has at hand. I particularly enjoyed her own memories of families Thanksgiving day dinners shared at Dorothea's 20' long table.
Great book as a start of a collection of Lange's work. It is also a nice reference for information about the American Dust Bowl, The migrant workers, Japanese Interment Camps during WWII, and The Great Depression, and tenant farmers in the South and Southwest! The story has given me a different perspective on America during this period I apparently didn't know a lot about. The conditions that American's dealt with, and the photographs that show the story, are shocking. I grew up in "white bread" New York, and could not fathom that such heart-ache existed in another part of our country just a couple of decades before my youth.
The story of Lange's life and dedication truly gave me a new respect for her work, and the type of sacrifaces a person has to make to accumulate a body of work such as Lange's.
I would recommend this book.
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By R. Barrell on February 8, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Restless spirit: The life and work of Dorothea LangeDorothea Lange provides us with a great insight into the human condition and the state of humanity. Her photographs are timeless works of excellence. Anyone interested in photography, history or humanity will find her work compelling.
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