From Publishers Weekly
When America's War Relocation Authority hired Dorothea Lange to photograph the internment of Japanese-Americans in 1942, they put a few restrictions on her work. Barbed wire, watchtowers and armed soldiers were off limits, they declared. And no pictures of resistance, either. They wanted the roundup and sequestering of Japanese-Americans documented—but not too well. Working within these limits, Lange, who is best known for her photographs of migrant farmers during the Depression, nonetheless produced images whose content so opposed the federal objective of demonizing Japanese-Americans that the vast majority of the photographs were suppressed throughout WWII (97% of them have never been published at all). Editors Gordon and Okihiro set this first collection of Lange's internment work within technical, cultural and historical contexts. Gordon (The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction
) discusses Lange's professional methods and the formation of her "democratic-populist" beliefs. Okihiro (Whispered Silences: Japanese Americans and World War II
) traces the history of prejudice against Japanese Americans, with emphasis on internees' firsthand accounts. But the bulk of the book is given over to Lange's photographs. Several of these are as powerful as her most stirring work, and the final image—of a grandfather in the desolate Manzanar Center looking down in anguish at the grandson between his knees—is worth the price of the book alone. 104 photos, 2 maps. (Nov.)
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In these days of fear of the terrorist 'other', reading this measured, intelligent introduction to a time that is all-too possible to imagine recurring, and looking at Lange's photos... may be one of the most useful things one can do this Christmas. "
[The] images show Americans of Japanese extraction being relocated to 'assembly centers', labeled and processed like cattle and closeted away in dismal shacks for the duration of the war... No wonder her pictures were never used and disappeared for half a century. "
Through her discerning and sensitive eye, Lange's observations of the situation were too real and too critical for the government, and were consequently confiscated. "
[T]he bulk of the book is given over to Lange's photographs. Several of these are as powerful as her most stirring work, and the final image of a grandfather in the desolate Manzanar Center looking down in anguish at the grandson between his knees is worth the price of the book alone. "