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In this paperback reissue, an author/photographer team returns to the land and families captured in James Agee and Walker Evans’s inimitable masterwork Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, extending the project of conscience and chronicling the traumatic decline of King Cotton. In 1936, during a brief window of national attention to the topic, Fortune magazine commissioned from Agee and Evans a story on poverty among tenant farmers in Alabama. Agee was famously ambivalent in his role, calling himself a spy and ultimately delivering a book-length manuscript unpublishable in magazine form. With this continuation of Agee and Evans’s work, Maharidge and Williamson not only uncover some surprising historical secrets relating to the families and to Agee himself, but also effectively lay to rest Agee’s fear that his work, from lack of reverence or resilience, would be but another offense to the humanity of its subjects.
Williamson’s 90-part photo essay includes updates alongside Evans’ classic originals.