Bourke-White: Say, Is this the U.S.A + Nixon: Forty Acres And Steel Mules (FSA Photographers)
Auction Winner: brassman
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Bid # High Bid Name Time (MT)
1 $465 brassman 18:41:34  Jun 5
Estimated Value: $ 600  –  $750
Auction Ended
Jun 6, 2013 3:00 pm MT

Say, Is this the U.S.A.. Text by Erskine Caldwell. Photographs by Margaret Bourke-White. Deull, Sloan, and Pearce, New York, 1941. 182 pp. First edition. Small folio. Clothbound with photo-illustrated boards. Photo--illustrated dust jacket. Numerous half-tone reproductions.
Near Fine+ in Near Fine-/Very Good+ dust jacket; tiny split to joint (1/4"/.5 cm); light wear at extremities; jacket with wear and chipping to upper edge; closed tears along top and bottom of spine area (1"/2.5 cm)

"This book is the third collaboration between husband and wife team Margaret Bourke-White and Erskine Caldwell whose 1937 book You Have Seen Their Faces was a passionate indictment of the economic and social conditions prevailing in the Southern States. Say, Is This The USA? was published in 1941 and is a partial survey of a country on the brink of war that is narrated through both textual and visual ‘snapshots’ with very little depth, that serves to promote the message that the US has emerged from the hard times of the 30s and is now united in defence of American values and freedoms...Although the book does allude to economic and social problems, the overall tone of both the text and images are upbeat and positive, unlike much of 1930s American documentary photography...The only potential disruption to this overarching theme is when the book looks at racial difference and segregation in the Southern States, but here the images and text are negated by the deluge of patriotism that pervades the book. Instead of a passionate cry for a transformation of the social and economic system that kept so many locked into slavery in all but name, the narrative calls for a greater coming together and mutual understanding on the past of both white and black that they are part of a single American nation. Yet racial difference and stereotypes are reinforced through Bourk-White’s photographs which in contrast to the well-dressed, middle-class white people that make up much of the imagery, the 5 images of depicting black people are of a different order. Two of these images show black education in relatively poor but not destitute surroundings and another is of a young black boy who glared back at the viewer. The last two are of adult black men in jail, one of which shows a smug looking warden turning the key of a cell as a black man grasps the bars. The message is clear; the young black boy who stares at the camera is destined to join them in jail when he grows up. There is an implied acceptance of this state of affairs in the way this is presented....
The final picture is of the Statue of Liberty, shot from below, standing guard against the foreign menace that threatened the core democratic Enlightenment values that America believes itself to uniquely embody. Bourke-White and Caldwell’s patriotic rhetoric captured the zeitgeist of the time, preparing a bruised democracy for inevitable participation in a war that would ultimately lead to American political and cultural dominance that persists to this day."--from the fantastic blog, propaganda photos: books, politics and photography

Herman Clarence Nixon: Forty Acres And A Steel Mule. Photographs by Farm Security Administration Photographers (Evans, Mydans, Lange, Rothstein, others). University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC, 1938. 98 pp. Quarto. First edition. Full linen in photo-illustrated dust jacket. Black-and-white reproductions.
Fine- in Very Good dust jacket; typical tanning to boards; tiny bit of fraying crown and base of spine; price in pencil ffep; jacket complete but with small chips and tears at extremities; slight loss (1/2") crown of spine and 1" rear panel.

An important study of the South during the Depression that is in the tradition of Dorthea Lange and Paul Taylor's An American Exodus, Land of the Free by Archibald Mac Leish (also with a selection of FSA photos), and Margaret Bourke-White's You Have Seen Their Faces.

"Published in 1938 in Chapel Hill by the University of North Carolina Press, Herman Clarence Nixon’s Forty Acres and Steel Mules uses a large number of photographs from the Farm Security Administration. The preface declares Nixon’s attempt at "a fresh and integrated interpretation of the rural south" (v). It gestures at Nixon’s previous writing, including "Whither Southern Economy?" in I’ll Take My Stand by Twelve Southerners (Harper & Brothers, 1930), and "The New South and the Old Crop" in Essays in Honor of William E. Dodd (University of Chicago Press, 1935). Nixon describes it as having both "kinship and discrepancy" with his previous writings. His claim to authority is personal: My ideas or observations must speak for themselves. I offer them for whatever merit they may have, relying on the country woman’s dictum, 'What I am, I am, and nobody can’t make me no ammer.'" (v) --Jeff Ward, This Public Address
 Bourke-White: Say, Is this the U.S.A + Nixon: Forty Acres And Steel Mules (FSA Photographers)
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