Reviews and opinions 
- reviews and letters on the book 


"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 


Migrant workers in Florida
 

"American Pictures, 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 St. Louis 

"American Pictures 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 whites. 
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 discarded people. 

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 the U.S. 
 

Old woman sweeping shack

"The difference 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 
 

The deepest and most scholarly review of the book:
The Fatalistic Hobo


  
  This page in Danish

Copyright 1997 AMERICAN PICTURES; All rights reserved.
 

     
 
   

introduction the show the book
reviews
Booking
the photos
Racism
Sound and video
Jacob Holdt
booking
Sitemap