Alec Soth - Magnum photographer with a world wide following of his
YouTube reviews of photo books - on how he for years hesitated to even
look at my book, but in 2022 was totally won over by it:
Alec Soth on
YouTube: On Saying Yes (to Jacob Holdt)
An even deeper review of the book
How Jacob Holdt's American Pictures works
The deepest review of both the film, slideshow and book:
A note on content in poor cinema - critical attractions in Jacob Holdt’s American
Pictures by J. Ronald Green
A comparison with
Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by Agee
After Agee in "Aperture" by J. Ronald Green
"Holdt's work is deeply and permanently affecting. There is no doubt
it has sold hundreds of thousands fewer copies in the United States than
it would have sold with a major publisher, but to Holdt it was more important
that the distribution be managed by the underclass that the book was intended
to help. Holdt's answer to the moral contradiction, "poverty sells,"
is "then let the poor sell it, at least."
Review in Aperture
without a doubt, has made one of the greatest impressions on me a book
is possible of making. Many times I was moved to tears. His accusations
of the white middle-class liberals as well as the rich really stung. He
confirms our nagging feelings that something is very wrong in our country,
and tells us there is no excuse for it." says Gita
"I hate this
book, yet I can not stop reading it. I push it away and try to avoid it,
only to pick it up again, read a few pages, and shove it away in disgust.
I had to read every word. I did not want to, but I could not resist. I
would rather hide in my middle class and pretend I do not know that poverty
exists." says Karen
5 reviews from Washington Univ. in
is an extremely difficult book for any American to read as Holdt does
not hesitate to put much of the blame for our society's injustices on
Thus for many would-be philanthropists this book often has the effect
of causing our self-righteous indignation over this outsider's critique
of our society to melt away in the heat of emotion as we struggle to find
a finger-hold by which to grab a brick from the prison of guilt he is
building around us so that we might eventually rationalize our way out.
But every argument,
every brick, is quickly cemented over until we are trapped inside the
prisons alone with ourselves and the pain which comes from knowing and
finally having to face the cruel fact that we are guilty.
The admission of this oppressive guilt burns away the layers of rationalization
which we had previously used as excuses to protect ourselves from the
realization that our very life-styles and unconcerned attitudes not only
allow but are the direct cause of our great injustices towards society's
In this way American
Pictures allows the reader to be 'reborn' as a thinking, feeling human
being allowing him to see the oppressed as equal human beings and thereby
bring about change for everyone's mutual benefit.
Best student review of the book in
between "American Pictures" and "How The Other Half Lives"
is the attitudes of their author/photographers. Holdt respects his subjects
as individuals, while Jacob Riis despises his subjects as groups. This
is significant because Holdt tries to convince viewers by gaining their
admiration, to change the system. Riis tries the opposite technique, he
uses disgust to instigate social reform."
A deep analysis of the photos in the book