Picturing a Nation: The Great Depression’s Finest Photographers Introduce America to Itself

­Candlewick. Oct. 2021. 176p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781536215250.
Gr 7 Up–This is a vivid account of the photographers the Farm Security Administration (FSA) tasked with documenting the work of FSA agents as they helped distressed farmers during the Great Depression. But these esteemed photographers, including Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks, soon found themselves telling a story of America. As the FSA’s Roy Stryker wrote at the time: “The task has been to confront the people with each other, the urban with the rural, the inhabitants of one section with those of other sections of the country, in order to promote a wider and more sympathetic understanding of one for the other.” Discarding their photos of government agents at work, they focused on “introducing America to Americans.” National Book Award winner Sandler divides the photos into regions with a short introduction to each region. The photos are captioned with information about the image, composition, and quotes from the photographers. The selection of images reveals the diverse nature of Americans and their lives during the Depression. This powerful collection will challenge many pre-held ideas about life in the early-20th century and leave a lasting impression on readers. Sandler includes profiles of the photographers and source notes.
VERDICT This is a great example of the power of visually documenting history. It will provide important human commentary in history classes and will be enjoyed by both history and photography enthusiasts. Recommended for all libraries.

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