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Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits Paperback – October 11, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Linda Gordon, one of our greatest historians, gives us an engrossing portrait of Dorothea Lange. Every page of this magisterial biography sparkles with insight into Lange's life, passions, photographic techniques and achievements-and into the lives of the dispossessed farmers, unemployed laborers, and incarcerated Japanese-Americans who were her greatest subjects. -- George Chauncey, author of Gay New York
An astonishing and deeply moving biography of Dorothea Lange, America's foremost social photographer. No other account can rival this one for its engagement or for its dissection of the passions, injuries, and hopes that impelled Lange to challenge the boundaries of gender, race, and family. Linda Gordon writes about her complex subject with sophistication, frankness, and sensitivity. In the process, Gordon demonstrates yet again that she is among the most gifted and probing historians of our time. -- Gary Gerstle, author of American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century
As Dorothea Lange's biographer, Linda Gordon is fortunate that Lange's private life was as complex-exceptional yet archetypal-as the history she documented in her photographs. The resulting book is superb social history rendered through a remarkable artist and personality. -- Diane McWhorter, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Carry Me Home
A richly human portrait of the eminent photographer whose luminous Depression-era images had the democratizing impact of a Steinbeck novel. "
Gordon's elegant biography is a testament to Lange's gift for challenging her country to open its eyes. "
The material is fascinating, and [the] presentation sterling. "
Top Customer Reviews
By Mark J. Palmer, Associate Director
International Marine Mammal Project
Earth Island Institute
Dorothea Lange's photography during the Depression defined the discipline of Documentary Photography - photography devoted to forth-rightly examining the human condition, often in the interest of righting great wrongs.
In an excellent new biography by historian Linda Gordon, Lange's experience in photographing the poor and the downtrodden was more than a bit ironic. She herself was raised in an upper class family on the East Coast. She announced her intention to take up photography as a career apparently without ever having even handled a camera, much less taken any photographs. Her career started by making portraits of wealthy San Franciscans in a studio far from dusty farms and back roads.
Lange was a hard-working self-starter, and she first attached herself to several expert photographers from whom she learned her trade. Gordon skillfully pairs Lange's career with the historic times in which she worked: Her portrait work of the elite citizens of San Francisco during the 20's is coupled with the bohemian lifestyle she adopted with many artists, including her first husband, Western painter Maynard Dixon. Her pairing with economist and agricultural reformer Paul Taylor, whom she would soon marry, when the Depression in the 30's swept away her and Dixon's art patrons and left thousands unemployed, especially migrant farm workers who were already exploited and in poverty.Read more ›
Gordon describes not just how these iconic photos were made, but the life of Lange as she made them. Lange took on (or wound up with) responsibilities for her own two children as well as offspring from her two husbands' previous marriages. There are allusions to neglect, but the children seem to be around more than one would expect from such a busy life. By contrast, Lange's life on the road driving from place to place, relating to the people and taking the photos is very well defined.
Gordon clearly demonstrates why Lange can be considered a photographer for democracy. She writes not just of Lange's work but her commitment towards the social reforms that she hoped her images might inspire. Her work with the FSA dovetailed with her second husband's work in agricultural economics. They were independent professionals as well a team.
There is a good description of the mission and vulnerability of the FSA, its role in the New Deal, its political pressures, office politics and how and why Lange was too often the odd man out. Both Lange and the FSA had to accept the racism of the times. Photos of people of color would not be highlighted since the public would not be inclined to accept them. The agency always had to consider the power of the growers to totally eliminate it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very engaging content. The author knows little about photography, so don't expect a treatise on Lange's techniques. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Isabel Cutler
Nice piece of historical work. I wished Henry Mayer had lived to finish it. But the facts are here and they are amazing enough to carry you along.Published 4 months ago by Reckless Reader
Excellent academically sound treatment. Well worth the investment in time spent.Published 6 months ago by Patricia White
No issues here! The book came in a timely manner and it was everything I expected.Published 7 months ago by Katrina Loperl
Good read, but I was looking for bulk of book to be on the life of Ms. Lange Most of it was about the national politics and other
trivial things. Read more