Cotton Tenants: Three Families

Cotton Tenants Three Families A re discovered masterpiece of reporting by a literary icon and a celebrated photographerIn James Agee and Walker Evans published Let Us Now Praise Famous Men a four hundred page prose symphony

  • Title: Cotton Tenants: Three Families
  • Author: James Agee Walker Evans John Summers Adam Haslett
  • ISBN: 9781612192123
  • Page: 328
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A re discovered masterpiece of reporting by a literary icon and a celebrated photographerIn 1941, James Agee and Walker Evans published Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a four hundred page prose symphony about three tenant farming families in Hale County, Alabama at the height of the Great Depression The book shattered journalistic and literary conventions Critic Lionel TriA re discovered masterpiece of reporting by a literary icon and a celebrated photographerIn 1941, James Agee and Walker Evans published Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a four hundred page prose symphony about three tenant farming families in Hale County, Alabama at the height of the Great Depression The book shattered journalistic and literary conventions Critic Lionel Trilling called it the most realistic and most important moral effort of our American generation The origins of Agee and Evan s famous collaboration date back to an assignment for Fortune magazine, which sent them to Alabama in the summer of 1936 to report a story that was never published Some have assumed that Fortune s editors shelved the story because of the unconventional style that marked Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, and for years the original report was lost.But fifty years after Agee s death, a trove of his manuscripts turned out to include a typescript labeled Cotton Tenants Once examined, the pages made it clear that Agee had in fact written a masterly, 30,000 word report for Fortune.Published here for the first time, and accompanied by thirty of Walker Evans s historic photos, Cotton Tenants is an eloquent report of three families struggling through desperate times Indeed, Agee s dispatch remains relevant as one of the most honest explorations of poverty in America ever attempted and as a foundational document of long form reporting As the novelist Adam Haslett writes in an introduction, it is a poet s brief for the prosecution of economic and social injustice Co Published with The Baffler magazine

    One thought on “Cotton Tenants: Three Families”

    1. "[Ida Ruth Tingle, age four] is possibly the last child they will bring into living, and she is extremely delicate. She dislikes what little food they have but loves chicken and coffee. So, steadily, they have bumped off a long string of chickens to feed her, and she drinks two or three cups of black and parboiled coffee at every meal. Her eyes shine like burning oil and almost continuously she dances with drunkenness."During the summer of 1936, in the midst of the Great Depression, Fortune maga [...]

    2. In the 1930's and 40's one did not have to go to another country to find people living in abject poverty, one only needed to visit the cotton belt of the good ol' USA. The plight of share croppers mostly white, but some black families, a generational poverty with no hope of ever rising above nor getting out of debt. Alabama, during the great depression, James Agee, a journalist, follows the work laden life of three families. Woman, who are worn out and look twenty years older than they should, m [...]

    3. an incredible forbes fortune magazine article, that never got printed. agee and photographer walker evans tour white 1936 cotton south to see how the economy was treating poor ass farmers. turns out they could have visited feudal ukraine or rural mexico and would have been the same picture. fdr finally got help to rural usa, via cooperative electricity, federal ag research and extension, water management, (lbj's 1965 voter rights act), built much needed FEDERAL sourced infrastructure. which we a [...]

    4. Reflecting on the Great Depression Era: A sensitive homage to the SouthAt last we are privileged to see and read the initial brilliant journalistic evaluation of the effects of the great Depression on the `tenant farmers' (also known as sharecroppers) in the South as reported by the legendary James Agee (1905 - 1955) and photographed by Walker Evans (1903 - 1975). This `lost' manuscript was Agee's original contribution to Fortune Magazine who sent him on assignment to report on the conditions of [...]

    5. This short but haunting read was originally an article James Agee had written in 1936 as an assignment for Fortune Magazine.He spent an entire summer in Moundsville, Alabama (20 something miles south of Tuscaloosa) mostly visiting with three sharecropper families.Agee had a lot to crab about in his article -the living conditions of the sharecroppers -or, as they preferred to call themselves "tenant farmers". He raised holy hell with the editors of Fortune claiming that these families and others [...]

    6. (nb: I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss) "Cotton Tenants: Three Families" takes us inside the backbreaking work and soul-breaking poverty of three tenant farmers in 1936 rural Alabama. It is hard to read without a sense of incredulity that people actually lived like this from generation to generation. This is the kind of book that indelibly impresses itself on your soul.In 1936, Fortune magazine sent staff writer James Agee and photographer Walker Eva [...]

    7. Depressingly Poignant This book was reviewed as part of 's Vine program which included a free advance copy of the book.I’d seen the pictures of the somber-looking farming family assembled on a hastily-made porch throughout the years, but never gave them much thought other than assuming the pictures echoed the effects of the Great Depression in rural America. In other words, a snapshot of how bad life was during those years prior to America’s great economic salvation otherwise known as the Se [...]

    8. Cotton Tenants is the story of three families struggling as tenant farmers in 1930's Alabama. It is a story of economic and social injustice but also of generational poverty. Originally the "report" was written for Fortune magazine but never published, the unconventional style of the article sited as the reason, the raw content must have been just as unconventional as the style and a factor as well. It is unconventional and it is uncomfortable to read at times.Agee's style of writing is eloquent [...]

    9. The closest comparative work I can think of is the one-act versus the full version of "View From the Bridge." Or, perhaps, to use a very Agee-esque analogy, this is to "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men" when the "Eroica" piano variations are to the symphony. But still -- what was Luce, or, for that matter, any editor working for Luce, thinking? That Fortune might ever print this?

    10. As a student of photography, essentially, this book is narrative put to the photography of Dorothea Lange, who with the onset of the Great Depression, used her camera lens to great and eminent effect to historically document the unemployed and homeless people of the Depression and the Dust Bowl, or Dirty Thirties, defining eras of early 20th Century America. Lange's skill in capturing this realism led to her employment with the federal Resettlement Administration (RA), later called the Farm Secu [...]

    11. Let Us Now Acknowledge that Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is not James Agee’s most accessible book. If you’ve always felt like you should’ve plowed through it but inevitably lost steam somewhere inside the forest of his verbosity (and propensity for description) then by all means pick this one up now. A fascinating look at the lives of tenant farmers (and three families) in rural Alabama in the 1930s. The themes which Agee explores here—race relations, labor, poverty and health care—hav [...]

    12. This sad little muckraking book gives an up-close-and-personal look at three families living as tenants on cotton farms in Alabama in the 1930s. All three families have substantial struggles; one family is still hoping to pull themselves or their children out of abject poverty but the other two families have given up.Agee describes their food (never enough), their clothes (mostly flour sacks), their working conditions (like all farmers, they work hard), their education, etc. Although the childre [...]

    13. It's James Agee and Walker Evans, for heaven's sake, so it could hardly be less than 5 stars. This is the piece Agee eventually turned into Forbes, after being hired to write about sharecroppers. It was never published, although Agee's masterpiece, LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN, was later published. This long read piece came out a couple of years ago and although it doesn't have the near-manic incendiary fire of FAMOUS MEN, it is a gut-wrenching unforgettable read. Agee's compassion and despair a [...]

    14. I selected this book, not because of the narrative, but rather because of the pictures by Walker Evans. The photography is beautiful and greatly enhances the reading. I also enjoyed the writing by James Agee.It is interesting in its presentation of information about the three families. Agee provided some context for understanding the lives of the families.

    15. Cotton Tenants: Three Families by James Agee is a collection of essays on the life of tenant farmers in Hale County, Alabama. These are the leftovers, found in the author's estate, from his Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941). pussreboots/blog/2017/comm

    16. Excellent book! It's sad to think that I have family who were likely described here. This helps my thesis research, and, more importantly, it gives me a better perspective on how hard their lives were.

    17. En su libro Aisthesis, Ranciere habla de este reportaje bajo uno de los mas bellos y acertados títulos de la critica literaria- el de "El resplandor cruel de lo que es". En este, define, en principio, la particularidad que gravita en el trabajo de Agee. En Cotton Tenants se dan sucesivas rupturas- tanto en el contenido, en el tratamiento de los temas, como en su forma y presentación, afirma. ¿Rupturas con que? No solo con el periodismo tradicional, que pregona la síntesis, la focalizacion en [...]

    18. What a load of crap from a pervert that graduated from Harvard ! A man that drank himself to death at the age of 45. Of course, his wife running off with a communist didn't help his feelings. The manuscript wasted away in Greenwich Village for nearly 20 years, it should have been a lot longer. In order to understand this book I think you have to understand the author. He requested Walker Evans as his photographer. Walker worked for the Resettlement Administration (RA) that later became Farm Secu [...]

    19. Interrumpida por su prematura muerte, la obra de James Agee siempre parece demasiado corta, marcada por sus colaboraciones cinematográficas con John Huston y Charles Laughton y por su sensible mirada sobre el microcosmos familiar. El impulso editorial llevado a cabo a principios de siglo, sin embargo, nos ha permitido escarbar en el trabajo del escritor norteamericano hasta encontrar sus raíces. Escritos sobre cine, novelas y narraciones periodísticas que, ante todo, describen un temperamento [...]

    20. This is the article commissioned by Fortune Magazine (and, ultimately, not published) which birthed the book "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men". We learn about the lives of three tenant farmers of moderate means. As he explains, his intention is to show the median rather than the high or the low. This approach would help to lend more empathy to stories reported in current journalism - steering clear of "poverty porn" and idolization of the well-off simulataneously.This book is particularly relevant [...]

    21. I am grateful to Fortune magazine for opting not to publish "Cotton Tenants." The book that grew from the roots of this largely unremarkable piece of muckraking journalism is a masterpiece. Although it has been many years since I read "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men," I recall that book possessing the striking naked candor of Agee wrestling with his place in the world relative to the families he was reporting on — and indeed to the wider world as the seeds of war were sown in Europe and the Depr [...]

    22. words by a great american novelist, photos by a legend. brilliant. exactly what you wish every piece of longform journalism was like. takes an unequivocal & unflinching moral stand on poverty, which is probably the reason it wasn't published during their lifetimes -- but is also the reason it is so impressive & memorable A civilization which for any reason puts a human life at a disadvantage; or a civilization which can exist only by putting human life at a disadvantage; is worthy neithe [...]

    23. What a snapshot at the bleak life of tenant farmers in the 30s. The photos do a good deal of good in conveying this too, and it is very personal. It will do you a great bit of good to immerse yourself in their lives like this and imagine a life without all of the conveniences we take for granted. Then, remember that it isn't that far off from what some people in the world still live like.I read this in some ways to contribute to finding an understanding of the roots from which American society h [...]

    24. Two-and-a-half-stars. Reading this short book kept bringing to mind the thought that I ought to like it much more than I did. I think my discontent is sourced, not by the subject-matter, but by Agee himself, whose writing style--elliptic, curt, tough-guy, convoluted--was annoying, a distraction. Though this might not have been intended to be published, I wish someone would have removed its numerous typos before publishing it. Agee's report occasionally made me pine for Hortense Powdermaker's Aft [...]

    25. only 3 stars because of the subject, not the writing. this book was so hard to read; the lives of these "average" white sharecroppers were so bleak & hopeless. The photos were beautiful yet stark. these poor people just dragging through life-it really hurt me to read. But i learned much about life in the South during that time period.

    26. Powerful and very disturbing both. James Agee's writing style is arresting; the book is precise with the quotidian facts of the individuals' lives, while also conveying the spiritual, emotional, intellectual qualities of their lives. A fast read, but one don't think I'll ever forget.

    27. Beautifully written. More poetry than investigative journalism. Somewhat undermined by the authors clear disdain for everyone around him.

    28. A time capsule ethnography of three southern cotton farmers. A very interesting time period and place to be covered.

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