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Valley of Shadows and Dreams Hardcover


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Valley of Shadows and Dreams + The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland (A Centennial Book)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Heyday (May 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597141720
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597141727
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 10.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,101,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

''Beautiful, intriguing, worrisome, and heartbreaking.''
--The Daily Beast

''The more than 100 black-and-white images evoke the topical and the transcendent...Accompanied by informative and urgent essays about the political, environmental, and social challenges facing the region, the book makes a stirring call to change the way we consider the disenfranchised by offering a window into their lives.''
--Publishers Weekly

''The book's bleak vista encompasses compassion, loyalty, resilience, resistance and even humor. Page after page of black-and-white imagery places the bookaptly in the lineage of Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Robert Frank.''
--Kenneth Baker, San Francisco Chronicle

''Taken in the Central Valley, these stirring black-and-white images channel WPA-era Dorothea Lange through their attention to labor, poverty, immigration, and agriculture.''
--San Francisco Magazine

''In this book you will find a powerful indictment not only of what has happened lately in America's largest state, but also of what is happening across this country right now. The abuse of illegal immigrants, environmental degradation, the madness of a real estate bubble, and all the other problems of the Central Valley are unfortunately relevant nationwide. Ken and Melanie Light bring great compassion and an eye for beauty to this subject, facing hard truths but refusing to despair.''
--Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation

''Ken and Melanie have used the camera not just with an artistic sense of composition and social perspective, but also as a kind of archaeological tool of calibration that links past and present in the same image.''
--Thomas Steinbeck, from the Foreword

''Ken and Melanie Light's book, a thoughtful and humane work, is a new, sensitive reanalysis of our dependence on the Valley, told through elegant pictures and text. The pictures are personal; they recall the tradition of the documentary photographs of the region s artistic forebears, especially Dorothea Lang's, but they are new, and--if one can even hazard the word in such situations--very beautiful.''
--Sandra S. Phillips, Senior Curator of Photography, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

''With arresting images and probing text, the Lights lay bare America's richest agricultural realm, revealing not only how abundant and impressive it can be, but also how cruel and exploitative. The Great Central Valley hides some of California's dark secrets, just as it remains one of the state s enduring economic engines.''
--Gerald Haslam, author of Haslam's Valley

''Valley of Shadows and Dreams beautifully captures the contradictions at home in the Central Valley--between agricultural wealth and farmworker poverty, between natural beauty and man-made destruction, between the powerful and the powerless. Ken and Melanie Light's work puts a face on the disparities experienced by farmworkers in some of the richest agricultural areas in the world.''
--Caroline Farrell, Executive Director, Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment

''[The Lights' work] serves as a model for how to bring photography and interviews together in a documentary book.''
--Digital Journalist

''Photographer Ken Light and writer Melanie Light rivet readers' attentions. The Lights succeed in respecting their subjects, intruding on their lives just enough to render a haunting profile of hardworking folks living on the margins.'' --Choice, on Ken and Melanie Light's Coal Hollow

''Photographer Ken Light and writer Melanie Light rivet readers' attentions….The Lights succeed in respecting their subjects, intruding on their lives just enough to render a haunting profile of hardworking folks living on the margins.'' --Choice, on Ken and Melanie Light's Coal Hollow

About the Author

Ken Light is a social documentary photographer whose published work includes Coal Hollow, Witness in Our Time, Texas Death Row, Delta Time, To the Promised Land, and With These Hands. He has exhibited internationally, received numerous grants and awards, and is an adjunct professor at and director of the Center for Photography at the University of California, Berkeley.

Melanie Light is a writer whose most recent book is Coal Hollow. She has published two special edition books: Night at the Met, with photographs by Larry Fink, and Mad Day Out, featuring rare photos of the Beatles. She is the cofounding executive director of Fotovision, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the international community of documentary photographers, and she has received grants from the Soros Documentary Fund and the Rosenberg Foundation. She teaches and lectures internationally.


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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bruce C on January 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I saw these photos highlighted in the NY Times and bought the book based on that. It's quite a great series about immigrants in the Central Valley of California. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
There's a fascinating story to tell about California's agricultural cornucopia known as the Central Valley and the workers who toil there. Unfortunately I don't think these photos really deliver the story. The rather short text pieces are far more thought provoking than the images, these essays reveal the huge agri businesses taking advantage of Federal subsidies, employing cheap migrant labor and cajoling politicians to supply ever more water for their land. Water is the key to the success of the Valley and agriculture takes about eighty per cent of California's water usage but it's getting harder and harder to supply the required amounts to the soil.

Some of the photos do capture the feel of the area but in my view far too many are just also-rans. The two photos on pages 126 and 127 sort of sum up the problem. 127 has a beautifully framed shot of a roadside alter with a cross on top, the framing pulls the eye into the contents of the simple structure so you can see the religious pictures, flowers, candles, cans for water and three steps made out of wood for anyone to kneel on. Behind the fields stretch into the distance. I can imagine Dorothea Lange stopping her car to photograph this if it had been there in November 1936 when she visited the San Joaquin Valley taking photos for the FSA. There are a few other photos in the book as good as this but so many are like the photo of a grape picker on the opposite page. He is stretching out to pick them but the leaves of the vine are out of focus, the grapes aren't visible and his head, shoulders and arms are blurred.

Other photos don't seem to be too relevant to the book's theme, like the Halloween shot on page seventy-seven or the close-up of a neon BEER sign on page eighty.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey G Bates on February 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Seems a bit self serving, more about the photographer than the subject. Not up to the standard of his Coal Hollow book.
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