Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee and Walker Evans
First Edition, First Printing, 1941
Custom Binding by Richard Lamb Bindery
This is a first edition, first printing of the landmark documentary collaboration between Walker Evans and James Agee “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: Three Tenant Families”published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston in 1941. The book has an interesting genesis. Fortune magazine commissioned Agee and Evans to write a series of articles in 1936 about how the Depression was affecting people of the working class and farmers in the South. The articles were rejected by Forbes and Agee and Evans attempted to have it published as a book. Harpers rejected the book as well. After 5 years, Houghton Mifflin agreed to publish the book. Andrew Roth writing in “The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century”, “After publication the book received good reviews but sold only about six hundred copies in a year, and was remaindered for nineteen cents. It was only after it was reissued in 1960 – after Agee had won the Pulitzer Prize – that it became a perennial classic. Among early reviewers, Lionel Trilling was almost alone in his recognition of the book’s place in history. In the Kenyon Review, he called it “the most important moral effort of our American generation”.
Containing 31 stunning full page reproductions of photographs by Walker Evans and measuring approximately 8” x 6”, the book has been handsomely rebound by Lamb & Buck (now the Richard Lamb Bindery of Waltham, Mass) in black cloth-covered boards with black leather spine labels and subdued gilt ruling. The book is in FINE condition with very superficial wear and a small gift inscription on the first free endpaper.
Cited in both “The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century” by Andrew Roth and “The Photobook: A History”, by Parr and Badger.
Photographs of the book as well as stock images contained in the book appear in the photo section of the listing.