Read The Americans by Robert Frank Jack Kerouac Online


Previously published in 1959, Frank's most famous and influential photography book contained a series of deceptively simple photos that he took on a trip through America in 1955 and 1956. These pictures of everyday people still speak to us today, 40 years and several generations later....

Title : The Americans
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9783931141806
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 180 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Americans Reviews

  • Carmen
    2019-04-12 15:05

    This is one of my favorite pics from Robert Frank's collection of photos in his classic "The Americans." It's a beautiful chronicle of America in 1955-1956. It's obvious that Frank liked capturing faces, expressions, moods. The introduction was written by Jack Kerouac, where he romanticizes about the American road, as seen through Frank's lens. There are so many great pics, "Drug store-Detroit" being another of my favorites. The one above is titled, "Barber shop through screen door - McClellanville, South Carolina." I love pictures that have a lot of layers, and here you can see the photographer, what is behind him, and what is in front of him. I really like photos with refraction and reflections of images, without the use of mirrors. Here's another one I like, with the little baby, the towering jukebox, the empty room, and light streaming in from the windows...titled "Café in Beaufort, South Carolina":A really beautiful collection, a book you can peruse for hours...and it makes a wonderful gift, thanks P! :)

  • Gary
    2019-04-14 18:03

    To quote Kerouac from his intro, "To Robert Frank I now give this message: You got eyes."These are wonderful timeless images. A classic work to be savored.

  • Robert
    2019-03-31 16:04

    Excellent photographs by Frank; shitty, pompous, self-indulgent introduction by Kerouac.

  • Carolina de Goes
    2019-04-01 14:08

    Frank was Swiss and got a Guggenheim grant to go ona huge roadtrip and carry this out. The American people were all looking forward to the release of the book, they thought it'd be pretty-pretty and it'd suck up to them, but no! Out it came and people were offended by it. They were offended because the eye of the outsider saw things which the Americans (not the book, the people) did not want shown. Yes, 1950's hypocrisy in its most classic form.Well, the world has become quite different and it seems the Americans (the people) now quite appreciate the book. Not surprising, for the pictures are brilliant, both in terms of technicality, look and concept. Superb.

  • Kimmo Sinivuori
    2019-04-05 11:49

    "...,coast of blue Pacific starry night - nobone half-banana moons sloping in the tangled night sky, the torments of great formations in mist, the huddled invisible insect in the car racing onward, illuminate..." writes Jack Kerouac in the introduction to this classic book of photographs by Robert Frank. This would be a five star book for that Kerouac introduction only but combined with Frank's pictures it is priceless.

  • J.
    2019-04-15 13:53

    If Helen's face launched a thousand ships, and if the Velvet Underground record launched a million garage bands, certainly Robert Frank's dense monograph is the photographic equivalent. Beautifully elegant images in a harsh, electrifying thematic vein.Read through it, see into it, read it through, and try not to weep.

  • Khaoula
    2019-04-12 12:54

    It left me with a weird image of America and Americans!

  • Tim Scott
    2019-04-01 14:02

    The images in this book either didn't move me or left me so in love with the composition and infected story within its frame. As a whole, each image bleeds spontaneity and common appreciation of the details of living.

  • Al
    2019-04-04 19:03

    A stunning book that changed my views about what Photography can be. Leave it to a European to come to America in the 1950s and in 83 pictures perfectly expose our hypocrisy while respecting and celebrating us as individuals.Also, for a book without words, it has a killer introduction by Jack Kerouac. Robert Frank also filmed the documentary C*cksucker Blues, traveling with the Rolling Stones on their 1972 tour for "Exile on Main St." -- for which he also did the cover. Equal parts debauchery and loneliness, Mick Jagger reportedly said "It's a f*cking good film, Robert, but if it shows in America we'll never be allowed in the country again." A subsequent legal battled ensued over it's release, and it can now be shown in very limited release: 5 times per year, and only with Frank present. Get thee to eBay...

  • Thomas Thorstensson
    2019-04-19 16:55

    Robert Frank's first mission is to tell the story of the americans, and he does so by taking his photography into just about every environment and social group he can find. He is everywhere, and like Bresson, his focus is not always on the technically perfect shot, but on the story, the feeling, the emotion. The americans come together, come apart, as we turn these pages. The introduction by Jack Kerouac echoes this photographic style, as he 'em dashes' out his many thoughts and impressions of America—and ends with saying "That little ole lonely elevator girl looking up sighing in an elevator full of blurred demons, what's her name & address?"

  • Cori
    2019-03-27 19:43

    What intrigued me: I read an article in Time (I think? I was at a doctor's office and my Google-fu fails me) about elderly artists who are still active in the art community. Robert Frank was on the list. They referenced The Americans in the article and I wanted to take a look.What I liked: There were some truly striking pictures, but this is by far my favorite:What I didn't like: I didn't connect with all of the photographs, but that is of little consequence. Favorite quote: “What a poem this is...”

  • lavinia
    2019-04-09 13:06

    Beautiful images of the 50s in America and Jack Kerouac was the best person to write the introduction for this book. Many times I had On the road in mind while looking at these photographs. Very interesting perspectives of breaking the rules and focusing more on emotion, as opposed to Henri Cartier-Bresson's preferences for geometry. There's a lot to learn here.I only wish I had this book in a larger format to see the photographs bigger. I had to settle with whatever edition I found.

  • Trey Piepmeier
    2019-03-26 17:02

    There must be some historical context here that I'm missing, but I don't think very much of these photos. Some of them are quite interesting, but perhaps because Robert Frank established this style of "street(?)" photography means that it seems ordinary, but actually was groundbreaking. I have no idea if that's the case. And the drivel introduction by Kerouac didn't help my understanding one bit. Actually, I couldn't get through the introduction. It was way too hip for me.Maybe I'll look back on this and be embarrassed by this review, but so it goes.

  • Maura
    2019-04-23 15:45

    An all-time favorite book featuring the face of America from small towns to cities. Day and night. Years ago SFMOMA featured a Robert Frank exhibition with many of these photos, plus his the letters he wrote to friends and to get grants. Best of all was matching the photographer's notes on why certain images were selected (or not) as part of the story of America he wanted to tell with the image itself.

  • Joe
    2019-03-29 12:06

    Kerouac wrote a wandering introduction (for better or worse), but really nailed Frank's work here in this single statement: "[Frank] sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film." I especially loved on the jukeboxes that found their way into Frank's framing of his travels across the country.

  • Mike™
    2019-04-05 13:04

    Un libro per street photographers.A me è piaciuto,tuttavia non sempre la bellezza dello scatto è a portata di tutti e prima di apprezzarlo bisogna studiare un minimo il genere.Un viaggio attraverso gli USA con un'occhio diverso,molto " on the road " (con tanto di introduzione di Kerouac).

  • Katie
    2019-04-01 12:48

    Studied this in college - one of the classics of photographic literature.

  • Ursula
    2019-04-04 15:56


  • Joe Totterdell
    2019-04-13 15:42

    “One day, quite some time ago, I happened on a photograph of Napoleon’s youngest brother, Jerome, taken in 1852. And I realized then, with an amazement I have not been able to lessen since: ‘I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor.’ Sometimes I would mention this amazement, but since no one seemed to share it, nor even to understand it (life consists of these little touches of solitude), I forgot about it.”—Roland Barthes, from Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography“Anybody doesnt like these pitchers dont like potry, see? Anybody dont like potry go home see Television shots of big hatted cowboys being tolerated by kind horses.Robert Frank, Swiss, unobtrusive, nice, with that little camera that he raises and snaps with one hand he sucked a sad poem right out of America onto film, taking rank among the tragic poets of the world.To Robert Frank I now give this message: You got eyes.And I say: That little ole lonely elevator girl looking up sighing in an elevator full of blurred demons, what’s her name & address?”—Jack Kerouac, from his introduction to Robert Frank’s The AmericansWhen the term “period piece” is mentioned, certain works come to mind: John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, and even Kerouac’s own masterwork On the Road. Robert Frank’s The Americans, while very unlike the aforementioned works, is a period piece in its own right. During the time of Eisenhower, an industrial time when the nascent highway system was expanding and the car was becoming affordable for the common person, people in America were gradually gaining a greater amount of mobility, and Frank travelled around the mainland United States in an old used car on a Guggenheim Fellowship snapping photographs of the country. Frank’s photographs tell the tale of a time in the United States now long gone, and this tale includes people from all walks of life; behind every scene is a story, behind every face is a mystery, and behind every photograph is a unique glimpse of history.I found all of the photographs in this book to be very captivating in their own idiosyncratic ways, but to attempt to describe Frank’s photographs would do them (and Frank) a disservice; instead, I’d prefer to point the readers of this review to the photographs in particular that caught my eye, in the order of their appearance in The Americans, with my favorite photographs being in bold text.My absolute favorite photograph in the entire book, you ask? I’ll have to get back to you on that one.“Political rally – Chicago”“Funeral – St. Helena, South Carolina” [#1]“Rodeo – Detroit”“Navy Recruiting Station, Post Office – Butte, Montana”“Movie premiere – Hollywood”“Motorama – Los Angeles”“New York City”“Charleston, South Carolina”“Ranch market — Hollywood”“Butte, Montana”“Yom Kippur — East River, New York City”“Trolley — New Orleans”“Rooming house — Bunker Hill, Los Angeles”“Cafe — Beaufort, South Carolina”“U.S. 30 between Ogallala and North Platte, Nebraska”“U.S. 91, leaving Blackfoot, Idaho”“Covered car — Long Beach, California”“Car accident — U.S. 66, between Winslow and Flagstaff, Arizona”“U.S. 285, New Mexico”“Barber shop through screen door — McClellanville, South Carolina”“Backyard — Venice West, California”“Newburgh, New York”“Luncheonette — Butte, Montana”“Bar — New York City”“Elevator — Miami Beach” (this is the photograph to which Kerouac was referring in the excerpt of his introduction to The Americans included above)“Restaurant — U.S. 1 leaving Columbia, South Carolina”“Mississippi River, Baton Rouge, Louisiana”“St. Francis, gas station, and City Hall — Los Angeles”“Crosses at scene of highway accident — U.S. 91, Idaho”“Assembly line — Detroit”“Salt Lake City, Utah”“Beaufort, South Carolina”“Chinese cemetery — San Francisco”“Political rally — Chicago” [#2]“Television studio — Burbank, California”“Los Angeles”“Bank — Houston, Texas”“Department store — Lincoln, Nebraska”“Cafeteria — San Francisco”“San Francisco”“Public park — Cleveland, Ohio”“Belle Isle — Detroit” [#2]“Chicago”“Public park — Ann Arbor, Michigan”“City Hall — Reno, Nevada”“Indianapolis”“U.S. 90, en route to Del Rio, Texas”

  • Bill
    2019-04-23 12:56

    I'm often at a bit of a loss with this kind of book. It's an acknowledged masterpiece but photography is not something I'm at all knowledgeable about or am particularly interested in.So as I went through this book I was thinking from time to time, "Okay, that's a cool photo" but generally, I found the technical quality of the photos lacking (and yes, I understand that Frank simply is using a particular style), and perhaps it's just the passage of the years, but I wasn't particularly impressed (good or bad) with the view of America being portrayed here.So it didn't do anything for me, but I'm not sure that really means much.Having said that, I'll go through it again someday soon to see what I missed the first time around.

  • Jan
    2019-04-11 19:50

    A black & white photography book featuring people and places from almost every state (Salt Lake City was a shot of the front steps of the McCune Mansion.) Completed in 1956, it was interesting to think "this is what it was like when I was four-years old." Not posed in any way, it captures people mostly unaware and totally natural, shot from non-traditional (at the time) angles and perspective.

  • JeneralDisarray
    2019-04-17 15:00

    These images are surely the progenitors of modern photographic social commentary, and they are poignant and affecting, but I wasn’t wowed. I probably should try to appreciate them for their historical context, but that’s a drab, dull way to interact with art.Also, I did not appreciate Kerouac’s repetitive, pretentious foreward. Yes, yes - you make up words that sound like feelings. Aren’t you amazing?!

  • Scott Drake
    2019-04-10 12:00

    It's difficult to imagine the fascination with these images without considering context and era. We're seen many, many iterations of themes such as this, it's nice to acknowledge the first. Some excellent imagery and printing and so many beg for detailed study. The upshot is to master light. Which is all any of us strive to do as best we can.

  • Victor Negut
    2019-04-14 18:52

    In my opinion, this is the most important photographic work of all time.

  • Thomas Pluck
    2019-04-02 12:44

    well-deserved classic

  • Clancy
    2019-03-25 16:58

    Robert Frank is a fucking master. This is life, this is real, this is humanity with pimples, warts, and a ribbon.

  • T P Kennedy
    2019-04-13 15:51

    Some fabulous images though an odd format. It's too small a book to really appreciate them. The introduction is a typically self indulgent piece by Kerouac that adds little the to the volume.

  • Pilar
    2019-04-11 20:03

    What I love about this book is how it manages to tell a story without any words.Without knowing anything about photography (as it's my case), without much effort, just looking at the pictures, you can "read" that story. But I think each person will read a different story and probably that was Frank's intention. Even the same person could read a different story depending on when we see these photographs or how long, and how many times, we look at them. It really is the poem Jack Kerouac says in his introduction. A poem tells a story using images made of words, Frank just uses pictures instead of words.It's easy to see why this book made an impact when it was published and it stills does. It forced America to look at itself and realize an outsider didn't see their country as all glamour, Hollywood and The American Dream. There was racial, class and age segregation. Everyone following the direction of the same arrow as one of the pictures shows. Individualism hidden behind the symbols of a country.And you can not just see it, you can feel it in the pictures, in the faces of the people.It's a great way to get to know America 50s, and not just the questionable aspect of the society, bu also the way people lived, dressed, listened to music, watched movies, the cars they drove...I didn't find all the pictures to be exceptional or I just didn't "get" all of them. Maybe they weren't supposed to be exceptional, just part of the story. For me the first half of the book is better than the last part. That's the only reason I didn't give it 5 stars.

  • dv
    2019-04-13 13:54

    "THE" fundamental book for the evolution of American photography in the second part of the XX century.

  • Helen
    2019-04-13 20:06

    The New York Times recently published a story about Robert Frank and his photography, which inspired me to get this book from the library. Frank, who is Swiss, traveled across the United States in 1955-56, taking black and white photos that tell a story of American life. It is not an especially pretty story. Hardly anybody is smiling and there are many images conveying loneliness. Some are pure 1950s, like the single image from St Petersburg showing well dressed older people passing time on the iconic green benches. There are old Shamrock gas pumps standing a silent vigil in New Mexico and pictures of old diners, jukeboxes and cars. A few might have been taken today, like the tattooed homeless guy sleeping in an Ohio park.They are interesting photos, but unless you are a student of photography, I can't imagine spending much more than an hour looking at them. That makes it difficult to critique a book of photos as a book. The version I read contains an introduction by Jack Kerouac.