Robert Frank's The Americans is vital to the here and now—as vital to the present moment as it was fifty years ago upon first publication. This is all you need to know. The rest, as they say, is commentary. Around the time I turned 40 in 1985, I began to read classics I had not gotten around to, was never assigned, or could not penetrate as a reader with no agenda. Books become classics not because teachers assign them. A book becomes a classic when it speaks to readers or viewers, across time, across politics—when it is the rare enduring expression of a unique consciousness so rooted in its own time and place that time is transcended: a voice from the past that speaks to a reader in the present. The Americans is such a book, no less so than Moby Dick or Madame Bovary. My review suggests one or two of the multiple readings from a personal viewpoint in part one, and addresses some academic/book fetish issues in part two.