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Vanishing America: The End of Main Street Diners, Drive-Ins, Donut Shops, and Other Everyday Monuments Hardcover – April 29, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"...a liberation from the glaring rat race of American life." ~LA Times

"Eastman's photos of fading American kitsch...are like a post-apocalyptic stage set for lost mid-century dreams." ~Print

"Texture, variety, human scale--these are what we stand to lose when these places disappear. Consider it a call to arms." ~National Geographic Traveler

"The careful excision of human life forces us to focus on what might otherwise seem unremarkable, sweeping aside the dust to expose the archaeological strata of US society that still lie there beneath the modern." ~World of Interiors

“Shot without people, the photos capture the crumbling decay of movie houses, diners, drive-ins, and so on across the United States. …Eastman, who has a terrific eye and knows how to stay out of the way of his subjects, photographed most of these places with an unvarnished objectivity that veers away from nostalgia toward despair.” ~Su Casa Magazine

About the Author

Michael Eastman’s work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the International Center of Photography, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and has published two previous books of photography. He lives in St. Louis.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli (April 29, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847830403
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847830404
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 0.9 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #700,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Chris Shaw on June 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If You're a fan of Michael Eastman's fine art photography, as I am, you must get a copy of his latest book, "Vanishing America." You must get it, but you'll be disappointed in it--disappointed in the layout, particularly, but also in the reproduction.

As to the layout, the photographs are given no respect. They are presented full bleed, that is, without margins. A typical two-page spread has a large picture full-bleed on the left side, and an array of smaller pictures--also full bleed and butting up against each other so it's hard to tell where one ends and the next begins--on the right.

This is not a book of photographs so much as it is a book of Americana, the kind you see on the bargain racks of the large chain bookstores.

As to the reproduction, I remember seeing a large (50x40 inch) print of "Shotgun House, New Orleans" at a show a few years ago. It was $5000 framed and I wanted it, but I had neither the wall space nor the money, so I contented myself with a free, postcard-size promotional reproduction. This reproduced the colors of the larger image very well and it served as a good reminder of why I liked it. This picture is reproduced in the book, slightly cropped, for no good reason, and with a decided magenta cast, compared to my postcard copy. Looking at the picture in the book, it doesn't remind me at all of my feelings for the original print.

I assume books of Americana are more profitable than books of photographs. If so, I can forgive this disappointing book. Fine art photographers need all the support they can get.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on April 29, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The subtitle to this fascinating book is The End of Main Street and Michael Eastman has taken it upon himself to record as much of it as possible before progress or neglect flattens what's left. Flick through the pages and you'll see more than two hundred shots of small town commonplace. The five chapters (Theaters, Churches, Hangouts, Doors, Signs, Stores, Services, Autos, Hotels and Restaurants) pretty much cover what you'll see in any town across the country.

Nearly every photo is an exterior and I thought one of the strengths of Eastman's work is the no-nonsense straight-on compositions. These buildings with their signs, peeling paint or structural modifications are visually intriguing enough not to require odd angles, soft focus or other gimmicks and even though they are photos of record the rich color and choice of subject lifts the contents of the book above similar photography.

The book's production is as impressive as the photos, the square format, matt art paper and 175 screen all come together beautifully. Four stars? Though the book was designed by Pentagram it does have, in my view, a rather annoying fault: there are several pages where photos are butted together which makes for initial visual confusion and I think weakens each relevant photo. A thin black or white line, just to give the minimum separation, would have solved the problem. Fortunately most pages don't have butted photos and on the rest the photos are allowed to sparkle by themselves and they do.

***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gregg Eldred VINE VOICE on November 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
No matter where you live, you probably pass buildings that have seen better days on your daily commute. If not buildings, then maybe signs, whether they are on billboards or sides of buildings. All of these items harken back to an earlier time; a time when the area was more vibrant. Now replaced by suburban shopping malls, a changing population, or economics, these store fronts and signs are falling into our distant memories. With Vanishing America: The End of Main Street, Michael Eastman captures these items before they are demolished.

About the Author

This book is filled with beautiful and sad photographs of pieces of America that disappear every day. While the population continues to move out from city centers, Eastman ventures into those spots to show you what you are missing or fail to see during your morning and afternoon rush hours. Each photo is worthy of your time, examining not only what is in front of you, but surrounding the focal point. While every chapter has its share of exceptional photographs, I thought that the chapter Doors was the best. There is something about these entranceways that speak to me. I don't know if it is the boarded up windows and locked doors, the storefronts covered with newspapers, or abandoned schools, they are haunting pictures. Other photos, full of energy and "life," are without any people. I don't know how Eastman was able to shoot those photos. An example is "Cabin Motels, Ketchum, Idaho." There is a vehicle in front of every room, but not a single person in the shot. I know that this Ketchum, Idaho, but still-where are the people?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I seem to have a fascination with older photos, especially pictures of architecture and buildings that tell endless stories. Our local library just got a copy of Vanishing America: The End of Main Street Diners, Drive-Ins, Donut Shops, and Other Everyday Monuments by Michael Eastman, so I got on the list to check it out. While it's not the old black-and-white photos of 80 years ago, Eastman has captured images of America that we pass by every day without a second thought. In context, the buildings and store fronts may not stand out. But isolated in a picture, they take on a certain quality that we wouldn't otherwise notice until they're gone.

The book is divided up into chapters covering theaters, churches, hangouts, doors, signs, stores, services, automobiles, hotels, and restaurants. After a brief one page somewhat philosophical description of the chapter matter, the rest of the chapter is nothing but full color photos of different places, from east coast to west. For instance, the theater chapter has a beautiful picture of the Fremont theater in San Luis Obispo, as well as a picture of the candy counter inside, evoking memories of when going to a movie was a big deal. Some of the theaters are abandoned, such as the Diamond theater in Tuscaoosa, but others are beautifully appointed interiors like the Paramount theater in Oakland. It's fascinating to see all the different styles, colors, and conditions laid out in successive pages.

What I found interesting in the book (and in photos in general) is that Eastman can take a run-down building that most of us would consider an eye-sore and give it a personality. The Arcade barber shop in Paducah would not win any awards for style, fashion, or even upkeep.
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