Robert Frank’s The Americans is one of those seminal photobooks that really needs no introduction, so please enjoy this unboxing…
This copy is the Steidl edition, printed in 2014, so nothing too fancy or particularly old. It’s still a beautiful book, and well worth the ~$30 I paid for it, shipped. It’s a bit smaller than I expected, but, really, it’s just about the perfect size to sit and enjoy.
After an adolescence and young adulthood steeped in the beat poets, I was particularly excited to read Jack Kerouac’s introduction, and it is definitely Kerouac all the way through, though it feels a bit more dated than the photographs, which really live up to all the hype.
Too many people have written about this important touchstone, and so I’m not going to go into any detail. Apologies.
The concept, a Guggenheim-funded road trip around the US by a Swiss photographer in the 1950s, exposing the real America to a world steeped in the dream, is perhaps a bit hackneyed now, but this is the original, and one by which all others are judged. The content, the pictures resulting from that trip and that show us how we were in the 1950s, and just how far we’ve come (or fallen), is top notch and beyond reproach. The design and printing are straightforward and beautiful, as is expected from Steidl.
Overall, I’d give The Americans a solid 4.5 stars. Find a copy: you can still order new copies from Steidl for €35 or from various online retailers.